sheep features marked to show areas to examine

The facial grimace is useful as a way to tell if a sheep is in pain, and how much pain.

When a sheep is in pain, the muscles in the face tighten, tensing against the pain. This causes the face to change and causes the facial grimace.

There are three parts that make up the facial grimace:

  • the ears
  • the eyes
  • the nose

When you approach a normal, pain-free sheep you will see a face like this.

sheep non grimace side by side
  • Her ears are pointing forwards so you can see the the inside of her ears.
  • Her eyes are open and alert and clearly looking at you
  • Her nose is a round U shape

 Here is a sheep in pain:

sheep grimace side by side
  • Her ears are pointing downwards so you can't see the the inside of her ears.
  • Her eyes are half shut and not alert
  • Her nose is a sharper V shape

The more pronounced these features the more pain the sheep is in. In the following images the sheep on the left is in moderate pain and the sheep on the right more severe pain.

pain degrees side by side