The treatment of pain in farm animals is inadequate due to the unfounded belief that these animals feel less pain than other species, such as horses, dogs, and cats. The fact is that farm animals do not demonstrate pain as clearly as other animals, because they are prey in nature, and demonstrating pain would easily put them at risk and expose them to natural predators. In addition to animal welfare, pain evaluation to support pain treatment improves productivity and is an ally of the producer.
The Unesp-Botucatu Composite Scale for Pain Assessment in Cattle (UCAPS – Unesp-Botucatu cattle pain scale) can be used in the field without the need for interaction and contact with the animal. It also has a score corresponding to the cut-off point to recommend the use of analgesics.
Access the topics below to learn about and use the scale.
Unesp-Botucatu Composite Scale for pain assessment in cattle (UCAPS – Unesp-Botucatu Cattle Pain Scale)
The UCAPS presents five characteristics:
2) Interaction with the environment
4) Food intake
5) Presence of different behaviors (miscellaneous behaviors)
Each characteristic is scored from 0 (normal or no pain) to 2 (greatest possible pain).
Unesp-Botucatu Composite Scale to assess pain in cattle (UCAPS – Unesp-Botucatu Cattle Pain Scale)
Walking with no obviously abnormal gait
Walking with restriction, may be with hunched back and/or short steps
Reluctant to stand up, standing up with difficulty or not walking
2. Interactive behavior
Active; attention to tactile and/or visual and/or audible environmental stimuli; when near other animals, can interact with and/or accompany the group
Apathetic: may remain close to other animals, but interacts little when stimulated
Apathetic: may be isolated or may not accompany the other animals; does not react to tactile, visual and/or audible environmental stimuli
Restless, moves more than normal or lies down and stands up with frequency
Moves less frequently in the pasture or only when stimulated
Normorexia and/or rumination
5. Miscellaneous behaviors
(A) Wagging the tail abruptly and repeatedly
(B) Licking the affected area
(C) Moves and arches the back when in standing posture
(D) Kicking/ foot stamping
(E) Hind limbs extended caudally when in standing posture
(F) Head below the line of spinal column
(G) Lying down in ventral recumbency with full or partial extension of one or both hind limbs
(H) Lying down with the head on/ close to the ground
(I) Extends the neck and body forward when lying in ventral recumbency
All of the above described behaviors are absent
Presence of 1 of the behaviors described above
Presence of 2 or more of the behaviors described above
After watching the videos corresponding to all sub-items of each item on the scale, watch the test videos, and analyze and score the behaviors. Then check the responses for each video. You are able to use the scale when your scores are up to 20% higher or lower than the template scores in at least three tests.
Decision to perform analgesia*
Analgesic intervention score
* Regardless of the score, it is up to the veterinarian to decide whether or not to use analgesics, according to clinical evaluation.
After reading and training the previous items, click below to assess pain in your animal.