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Farm Animal Practice
Assessing and minimising the distress caused by painful husbandry procedures in ruminants
  1. David Mellor

    David Mellor graduated from New England University, Australia, in 1966 and gained a PhD from Edinburgh University in 1969. He is currently AGMARDT Professor of Animal Welfare Science, Professor of Applied Physiology and Bioethics, and director of the Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre at Massey University, New Zealand.

  2. Kevin Stafford

    Kevin Stafford graduated from University College Dublin in 1976. He gained an MSc at the Centre for Tropical Veterinary Medicine, Edinburgh, before returning to Dublin to complete a PhD. He is currently Associate Professor of Applied Ethology and Animal Welfare at Massey University.


IT is imperative that the pain and distress caused by essential husbandry procedures, such as tail docking and dehorning, are minimised. It is therefore necessary to monitor current findings about the physiological basis of the distress caused by painful husbandry practices, so that efforts can be made to minimise that distress. Since two or more methods (eg, cautery or cryocautery) can usually be used to achieve one husbandry purpose (eg, branding), this raises the question of which method causes the least pain-induced distress. As knowledge grows, judgements about the acceptability of different husbandry procedures may require revision.

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