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Maja Söderlind

Maja Söderlind
My name is Maja Söderlind and I am a PhD-student and a lecturer at the department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry. My PhD-project focuses on facial expressions and behaviors associated to pain in dairy cattle.


I graduated as a veterianian at Copenhagen University in 2013, with focus on equine medicine. My master thesis is entitled "Risk factors for and bacterial causes behind accumulation of intrauterine fluid post breeding and distribution of intrauterine S. zooepidemicus strains in Thoroughbred mares". The years after graduating I worked in mixed practise with large animals as well at small animal clinics with companion animals. I started working as a lecturer at SLU in 2017 and in 2023 I started my PhD with the preliminary title "Objective assessment of behaviours and facial expressions associated with pain in dairy cattle".


During my time at SLU I have mainly teached anatomy and histology for students at the veterinary, agronomy and veterinary nurse programs. Between 2019 and 2023 I have been the course leader for the course "Structure and functions of the body systems", VM0111. During my PhD I will continue teaching anatomy 20% of my time.


From a welfare perspective it is essential to detect and limit pain. Apart from welfare issues, pain in dairy cattle is also causes economical losses due to decreased milk production, reduced fertility and early culling. Most animal workers can agree on when a cow is experiencing severe pain. However, there is a less mutual understanding when it comes to more subtle symptoms which may be due to a lack of a proper pain assessment. Prey animals, such as cattle, tend to hide signs of weakness, which may contribute to a delayed detection of animals in pain. The pain expression is dependent on several factors, such as animal species, type of disease, whether the pain is acute or chronical and individual aspects. To reach a reliable method for detecting and evaluating pain in cattle more knowledge about how cattle express pain during different circumstances are needed. Physiological parameters, such as heart rate, blood cortisol levels and respiratory rate, has readily been used for evaluation of pain. However, since these parameters can be affected by both stress and certain diseases,they are unreliable as a sole indicator for pain in animals.

The aim of this project is to validate whether pain related behaviours, including facial expressions, can be used to detect and monitor different painful conditions in cattle. Further, the aim is to develop a systematic method for identification and registration of different facial activities in cattle.

I also take part in different research projects involving biomechanics and objective gait analysis in cattle. 

Main supervisor: Marie Rhodin

Assistant supervisors: Elin Hernlund (SLU), Jean-Francois Valarcher (SLU), Katrina Ask (SLU)

Selected publications

Leclercq A, Byström A, Söderlind M, Persson E, Rhodin M, Engell MT and Hernlund E (2022) Evaluation of feedback methods for improved detection of hindlimb lameness in horses among riding instructors and trainers. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, Volume 9,

Christoffersen M, Söderlind M, Rydemann Rudefalk S, Gervi Pedersen H, Allen J, Krekeler N (2015) Risk factors associated with uterine fluid after breeding caused by Streptococcus zooepidemicus, Theriogenology, Volume 84, Issue 8, Pages 1283-1290, ISSN 0093-691X,


Doctoral Student, Lecturer at the Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry (AFB); Division of Anatomy and Physiology
Telephone: +4618672131
Postal address:
Institutionen för anatomi, fysiologi och biokemi
Box 7023
Visiting address: VHC Huvudentré, Ulls väg 26, hus 5, plan 4, Uppsala