Ethogram with the description of the pain behaviors in sheep

Normal behavior


Act of eating feed


Act of ruminating


Act of drinking water


 Act of urinating


Act of defecating


 Act of sleeping


Normal interaction

Active, attentive to the environment, interacts with and/or follows other animals

Reduced interaction

Apathetic: may remain close to other animals but interacts little

Absent interaction

 Very apathetic: is isolated or does not follow other animals, is not interested in the environment


Normal locomotion

Moves about freely, without altered locomotion; when stopped, the pelvic limbs are parallel to the thoracic limbs

Reduced/altered locomotion

Moves about with restriction and/or short steps and/or pauses and/or lameness with limb support; when stopped

Absent/abnormal locomotion

 Reluctant to get up or gets up with difficulty; does not move or demonstrates unstable or rigid walking and/or limps with little or no limb support; may walk backward or walk in a circle or lean against a surface or fall

Head  position

Head above the withers

Head is positioned above the withers

Head at the height of the withers

Head is positioned at the same level of the withers

Head below the withers

Head is positioned below the withers (except when eating)


Standing still in normal posture

Quadrupedal position when not moving

Standing in altered posture

Quadrupedal position with arched back and pelvic limbs rigid and/or caudally extended (pelvic limbs may be more open and further back than normal)

Other behaviors

Kick and stamp the limbs on the ground

Kicks the limbs while standing

Lying down with extension of the head and neck and/or limb(s)

Stretches the head and neck and thoracic or pelvic limbs when in recumbence

Lying down

Lying in ventral or lateral recumbence

Lying down with head turned back

Lying down with the head turning back

Lying with head supported on or close to the ground

Lying down with head close or supported on the ground

Quick and repeated tail movements

Energetic tail wagging (except when breastfeeding)

Keep the tail straight
(when not urinating or defecating)

Tail stretched (when not urinating or defecating)

Arch the back

Back arching

Body tremors

Back and abdomen (mostly) trembling

Body rotation

Rotates body partially or totally, without getting up

Attention to the affected area

Does not look

Turns the head and looks

Licks or tries to lick or avoids contact of the area with surfaces or other animals