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Dr Dale Sandercock

Senior Researcher
Animal Behaviour and Welfare
Animal & Veterinary Sciences

Research interests 

Senior research scientist with over 15 years field and laboratory based post-doctoral research experience undertaking and leading veterinary research studies on the neurobiology of stress and pain in farm species (primarily pigs and poultry). Main areas of research expertise are in understanding 1) the long-term effects of prenatal stress and early life tissue trauma on nociceptive (pain) processing; 2) the molecular basis of spontaneously induced (idiopathic) myopathy (muscle damage) in domesticated species; 3) the role of genetic selection on genotype disease resistance/susceptibility.

One of my most recent research project FareWellDock is a large EU collaboration that aims to characterize the risks associated with tail docking and tail biting in pigs and develop strategies that decrease tail biting risk through environment enrichment and better early warning tools to help farmers stop tail docking. The aim of the work carried out at SRUC is to characterize traumatic neuroma development in tail docked pigs and assess consequences of tail docking on long-term pain sensitivity.

Another recently funded collaborative research project by the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) aims to identify molecular markers in blood and joint tissues in pigs affected by degenerative joint disease.

Selected research projects

  • FareWellDock- Ending tail docking and tail biting in the EU: Hazard characterization and exposure assessment of a major pig welfare problem
    ANIWHA-Era Net funding (2013-2016) – WP1. Collaboration with Prof. Sandra Edwards (Newcastle University), Dr. Mette Herskin (Aarhus University), Dr. Armelle Prunier (INRA) and Prof. Martin Schmelz (Heidelberg University).
  • Validation of lameness and pain biomarkers in pigs
    UFAW funding (2015). Collaboration with Dr. Jonathan Guy, (Newcastle University), Dr. Fiona Watt (Oxford University) and Dr. Sara Kelly (University of Nottingham).
  • Porcine hyperalgesia after NGF-administration
    IASP funding (2010-2012). Collaboration with Dr. Mette Herskin (Aarhus University) and Prof. Martin Schmelz (Heidelberg University).


In the past, I was a lecturer in Animal Physiology at Liverpool John Moores University. I was responsible for the development and delivery of undergraduate courses on animal physiology and behaviour, animal ethics and welfare, environmental physiology and comparative neurobiology. I have been guest lecturer on the University of Edinburgh’s Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare MSc course and acted as a coordinator of student-directed learning assessments (SDLA) on the Vet Pharmacology course at the University of Glasgow.

I have also supervised well over 20 undergraduate and postgraduate (MSc) students and act as an external Masters and PhD student examiner.

PhD students

  • Anna Sinclair
    ‘Investigating behavioural and neural/cellular consequences of tooth resection in commercial piglets: implications for welfare’ with Dr. Paula Brunton (University of Edinburgh), Dr. Armelle Prunier & Dr. Céline Tallet (INRA), Dr. Kenny Rutherford (SRUC).
  • Jen-Yun Chou
    ‘Strategies to reduce the risk of tail biting in pigs managed on slatted floors’ with Dr. Rick D’Eath (SRUC), Prof. Natalie Waran (University of Edinburgh) and Dr. Keelin O’Driscoll (Teagasc).

Selected publications

  • Di Giminiani P, Sandercock DA, Malcolm EM, Leach MC, Herskin MS, Edwards SA (2016) Application of a handheld Pressure Application Measurement device for the characterisation of mechanical nociceptive thresholds in intact pig tails.  Physiology & Behavior, 165, 119-126.
  • Sandercock DA, Smith SH, Di Giminiani P, Edwards SA (2016) Histopathological characterisation of tail injury and traumatic neuroma development after tail docking in piglets. Journal of Comparative Pathology, 155, 40-49.
  • Sandercock DA , Auckburally A, Flaherty D, Sandilands V and McKeegan DEF (2014) Avian reflex, and electroencephalogram responses in different states of consciousness. Physiology and Behavior, 133; 252-259.
  • Sandercock DA, Gibson IF, Rutherford KMD, Donald RD, Lawrence AB, Brash HM, Scott EM, Nolan AM (2011) The impact of prenatal stress on basal nociception and evoked responses to tail-docking and inflammatory challenge in juvenile pigs. Physiology & Behavior 2011 104; 728-737.
  • Sandercock DA, Gibson IF, Brash HM, Rutherford KM, Scott EM, Nolan AM. Development of a mechanical stimulator and force measurement system for the assessment of nociceptive thresholds in pigs. Journal of Neuroscience Methods 2009; 182(1):64-70.

    See all of Dr Dale Sandercock's publications.

    Dr Dale Sandercock

    Post-Doc Research Scientist

    Address: Animal & Veterinary Sciences, SRUC, Roslin Institute Building, Easter Bush, Midlothian EH25 9RG

    Telephone: 0131 650 6585

    Fax: 0131 535 3121