Dr Dale Sandercock

Scotland's Rural College

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.

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.


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 an occasional guest lecturer on the University of Edinburgh’s Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare MSc course and acted as a co-ordinator 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 I act as an external Masters and PhD student examiner. In addition to my research and teaching, I am an editor for Avian Biology Research and referee for a number of international scientific journals.

Selected Publications

  • Sandercock DA , McKeegan DEF, Auckburally A, Flaherty D and Sandilands V. (2014) Reflex, behaviour and electroencephalogram responses in different clinical states of consciousness in chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) and turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) (Brain Research - in press)
  • McKeegan DEF, Sandercock DA , MA Gerritzen (2013) Physiological responses to low atmospheric pressure stunning (LAPS) and their implications for welfare. Poultry Science. 92:858-868
  • Sandercock DA, Monteiro A, Scott EM, Nolan AM. (2012). The effect of tail-docking neonatal piglets on ATF-3 and NR2B immunoreactivity in coccygeal DRG and spinal dorsal horn neurons: Preliminary data. Scandinavian Journal of Pain, 3; 184-185
  • Cockram MS, Murphy E, Ringrose S, Wemelsfelder F, Miedema HM and Sandercock DA (2012) Behavioural and physiological methods following treadmill exercise as potential indicators to evaluate fatigue in sheep. Animal. 6: 1491-1502
  • 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
  • Rutherford KMD, Robson SK, Donald RD, Jarvis S, Sandercock DA, Scott EM, Nolan AM, Lawrence AB. Pre-natal stress amplifies the immediate behavioural responses to acute pain in piglets. Biology Letters 2009; 5(4):452-454
  • Sandercock DA, Nute GR, Hocking PM. Quantifying the effects of genetic selection and genetic variation for body size, carcass composition, and meat quality in the domestic fowl (Gallus domesticus). Poultry Science 2009; 88(5):923-931
  • Sandercock DA, Barker ZE, Mitchell MA, Hocking PM. Changes in muscle cell cation regulation and meat quality traits are associated with genetic selection for high body weight and meat yield in broiler chickens. Genetics, Selection and Evolution 2009; 41(1):1-8
  • Sandercock DA, Hunter RR, Mitchell MA, Hocking PM. Thermoregulatory capacity and muscle membrane integrity are compromised in broilers compared with layers at the same age or body weight. British Poultry Science 2006; 47(3):322-329
  • MacRae VE, Mahon M, Gilpin S, Sandercock DA, Mitchell MA. Skeletal muscle fibre growth and growth associated myopathy in the domestic chicken (Gallus domesticus). British Poultry Science 2006; 47(3):264-272
  • Sandercock DA. Putative nociceptor responses to mechanical and chemical stimulation in skeletal muscles of the chicken leg. Brain Research Reviews. 2004; 46 (2):155-162
  • Sandercock DA, Mitchell MA. The role of sodium ions in the pathogenesis of skeletal muscle damage in broiler chickens. Poultry Science 2004; 83(4):701-706
  • Sandercock DA, Mitchell MA. Myopathy in broiler chickens: a role for Ca2+-activated phospholipase A2. Poultry Science 2003; 82(8):1307-1312
  • Sandercock DA, Hunter RR, Nute GR, Mitchell MA, Hocking PM. Acute heat stress-induced alterations in blood acid-base status and skeletal muscle membrane integrity in broiler chickens at two ages: implications for meat quality. Poultry Science 2001; 80(4):418-425
  • Mitchell MA, Sandercock DA, Hunter RR, Carlisle AJ. Skeletal muscle damage following halothane anaesthesia in the domestic fowl: plasma biochemical responses. Research in Veterinary Science 1999; 67(1):59-64
  • Hocking PM, Mitchell MA, Bernard R, Sandercock DA. Interaction of age, strain, sex and food restriction on plasma creatine kinase activity in turkeys. British Poultry Science 1998; 39(3):360-364
  • Mitchell MA, Sandercock DA. Creatine kinase isoenzyme profiles in the plasma of the domestic fowl (Gallus domesticus): effects of acute heat stress. Research in Veterinary Science 1995; 59(1):30-34