Pain is a sensory and emotional experience that significantly affects animal welfare and has negative impacts on the economics of farming. Pain is often associated with common production diseases such as lameness and mastitis, as well as introduced to the animal through routine husbandry practices such as castration and tail docking. Farm animals are prey species which tend not to overtly express pain or weakness, making recognizing and evaluating pain incredibly difficult. Current methods of pain assessment do not provide information on what the animal is experiencing at that moment in time, only that its experience is having a long term negative impact on its behavior and biological functioning. Measures that provide reliable information about the animals’ affective state in that moment are urgently required; facial expression as a pain assessment tool has this ability. Automation of the detection and analysis of facial expression is currently in development, providing further incentive to use these methods in animal welfare assessment.
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