» Animal Behavior and Welfare Group Newsletter!

2003 Annual Retreat

The ABWG had its annual retreat at the English Inn in Eaton Rapids on March
13, 2003. The day consisted of team-building exercises, discussion of
individual projects, great food and a wine tasting event.

Getting To Know You…

The group spent the early part of the day getting to know each other not
only in a work or academic context, but on a more personal level. The group
shared pictures and other personal artifacts as a way to learn more about
what has inspired each member to become who they are. Fun was had by all.
The group also split into pairs for some intensive education about what
other members of the group were working on. Each person presented their
partner’s work to the group as best they could without interruption from the
member being presented (Oh, I was a bit nervous during my presentation and
forgot to mention: Patricia is training hard to join the circus…. Ok, just
kidding. I just really wanted to say that on Thursday and forgot.


We got it, people!! Although there was some speculation to the contrary,
the group did an intensive study of its level of integration and unanimously
decided that we’re OK. For proof on paper, contact Dr. Kirsty Laughlin.

Who’s Doing What in the Lab?

Each member of the ABWG gave a presentation of their current work in the Lab
so that we can all be informed of each others’ projects. With the addition
of several new group members and everyone’s very busy schedule, it was great
to catch up on what we’re all doing.

Patricia Almeida, DVM
Patricia is visiting from Sao Paulo State, Brazil. She is currently working
on three projects, one of which is the USDA project, “The Role of
Hippocampal Glucocorticoids on Behavioral Responses to Stress in Pigs.” The
two main goals of this project are (1) To assess the ontogeny of GR and MR
receptors and 11_-HSD in pig hippocampus up to four weeks of age and (2) To
determine the effects of oral Mifepristone at weaning on some cognitive
indicators in pigs. A highlight of the project was the successful
development of a flavored paste for oral administration of the Mifepristone
drug. Patricia is also working on a study with Dr. Zanella and Dr. Wilson
(CVM), attempting to assess measures of pain in horses with post-surgical
joint pain, and Wilson (CVM), attempting to assess measures of pain in
horses with post-surgical joint pain, and to assess any analgesic effect of
IA xylazine. Patricia is also working on her Masters research in
implementing biomechanical analyses to understand lameness and other gait
problems in horses. Busy, busy!!

Dan Dembiec

Dan is working to obtain his Masters degree in the Department of Zoology.
Within the ABWG, Dan has been conducting research to test the effectiveness
of using fecal cortisol, in addition to behavioral indicators, to measure
stress in tigers (Dembiec & Zanella). His current work focuses on the
effects of crating and transportation on the behavior and physiology of
tigers, using the noninvasive measures mentioned. Dan’s work is
strengthening the bridge between the ABWG and the Department of Zoology.

Camie Heleski

Camie is a Ph.D. student in the ABWG, studying people’s attitudes toward the
welfare of agricultural animals, and developing strategies for using animal
welfare judging as a teaching tool. Camie’s pilot survey of animal science
faculty at MSU showed that 3% don’t feel that sheep, beef and dairy cattle
receive an appropriate level of animal welfare in predominant production
methods; 25% responded similarly regarding layer and meat birds and swine.
A refined survey will be conducted throughout United States animal science
departments. Camie has also been the primary organizer for the Animal
Welfare Judging Competition. Her long-term goal is to enhance
equine-welfare, and to this effect she was involved in the EQWIS case study
of Brazilian Draught Horses (2003). Another busy woman!

Jarno Jansen

Jarno is also working on the USDA project studying the balance between
glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid receptors in pig hippocampus. Jarno is
performing in situ hybridization on hippocampal tissue to determine this
balance, which may indicate if early weaning alters stress sensitivity on
the hippocampal level, or if other brain adaptations cause differences in
stress response. Jarno is also working closely with the data of former ABWG
member Yan Yuan, regarding the relationship between aggressiveness and
weaning age in pigs.

Laughlin, Ph.D.

Kirsty has been studying the effects of weaning age on the cognition and
learning of pigs using a modified water maze design. Data analysis showed
that isolation stress prior to testing caused significant impairment in
performance, as well as a significant interaction between weaning age and
isolation treatment. This data suggests a possible cognitive disruption
affected by increased exposure to stress hormones at a critical age (which
can occur during weaning). Kirsty is also beginning work on the new Animal
Welfare Interactive Digital Library (AWIDL), which will contain various
formats of media and data regarding animal welfare, to be accessible by
people on many academic levels.

Cheryl Leece

We’ve missed Cheryl while she’s been out, but she’s back now and as busy as
ever. Cheryl will be working on many projects in the near future, including
a lifelong study of Jamaican teenagers and effects of early environment and
stress. Cheryl will also be continuing work on the POUCH project and
beginning work on the Pet a Pet and dendritic reorganization projects.

Denyse Leite

Denyse is a newcomer from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in
Porto Alegre, Brazil. She is completing her Ph.D. there and will spend time
in the ABWG studying the impact of weaning age on the social behavior and
recognition of pigs. This work will complement the studies being done by
Adriana Silveira de Souza, Jarno Jansen, Patricia Almeida and Dr. Kirsty

Hillary Noyes

Hillary is working full-time in the lab in between graduating from MSU with
a B.S. in Zoology, and going to veterinary school, most likely also at MSU.
She has been working with advanced media technology programs to create
interactive animal welfare assessment programs in a web-based format, as
well as promotional material for the Animal Welfare Judging Competition.
She will also be helping Dr. Kirsty Laughlin and Amy Shelle collect data
bytes for the Animal Welfare Interactive Digital Library. Hillary will also
be involved in a therapeutic riding study at Chum center, assessing the
effects of disabled riders on therapy horses.

Rosangela Poletto

Rosangela has just joined us from Brazil, as well. She will be working
alongside Dr. Janice Siegford on mRNA extraction from hippocampal tissue of
pigs weaned at various ages and subjected to isolation stress. This work
will hopefully elucidate some more key proteins in the stress axis of young
pigs and complement the USDA project data.

Janice Siegford, Ph.D.

Janice is the most recent arrival to the ABWG, coming to us from the Pacific
Coast. She is an experienced companion animal behaviorist, and is just
inches away from official certification by the Animal Behavior Society.
Janice will be working with Rosangela on the microarray work. She will also
be examining options for noninvasive, functional methods for viewing the
brain. Target training piglets, anyone? I know I’m in!

Amy Shelle

Amy has been with the ABWG for all time…well, since 1996. She has
participated in an enormous variety of projects, but is now focusing her
attention on gathering and organizing high-quality media images for the
AWIDL. Amy is also working hard being in charge of the behavioral
observations on the Chum therapeutic riding project.

Adriana Silveira de Souza

Adriana has been studying social recognition in pigs since she arrived here
from Brazil in 2000. Her work focuses on how early weaning may disrupt
social recognition and heighten aggressiveness. To this effect, she is
currently working with Patricia Almeida, DVM and Jarno Jansen on the USDA
hippocampus study.

Spotlight on…
Adroaldo J. Zanella, DVM, Ph.D.

Dr. Zanella is the Principal Investigator of the ABWG. His main interests
are finding integrative ways to assess the consequences of increased
stress-axis activity on brain organization at different stages of early
development. Recently, studies have focused on the role of the hippocampus
in regulating stress hormones, and how this stress affects cognition and
learning. Dr. Zanella’s long term goal is to identify and minimize the
sources and consequences of stress during prenatal and neonatal periods for
both mother and offspring in different species (including humans).
Important aspects of current grant projects include developing parallel
human and animal models for stress in pregnancy.
Dr. Zanella is also interested in exploring correlates of emotional
regulation using noninvasive brain imaging and gene expression.
Another important project has been the spread of information regarding
animal welfare through the Animal Welfare Judging concept and Animal Welfare
Interactive Digital Library.

ANS 305

The Animal Science 305 students have been learning the importance of good
experimental design, in a project led by instructor Dr. Kirsty Laughlin.
The students have been traveling to the MSU Horse Research and Teaching
Center to view the effects of familiar and unfamiliar recorded horse
vocalizations on the horse group on pasture. The students are learning
methods of behavioral observation and the difference between good and poor
experimental design.

Dr. Laughlin feels this is a worthwhile project because, “the students get
practical experience in conducting behavioral experiments.”

This Month’s Events

March 20
1-3 PM, B205 Life Sciences
HABI meeting
Dorothy Brooks will lead a discussion on veterinary - client communications.

March 21
To add your event or seminar here, email Hillary Noyes at noyeshil@msu.edu

» Staff & Students
Adroaldo Zanella
Associate professor. DVM, Ph.D. Animal Welfare, University of Cambridge. Area of expertise: non-invasive markers of stress in animals and humans and ...
» Welfare Judging Competition
We have developed a model to increase education of animal welfare issues based on a traditional curriculum feature within animal science departments: judging teams ...
» Research Areas
Assessment of animal welfare...
Developing protocols to assess the processes by which humans develop their attitudes toward animal welfare issues; developing a novel concept to be used ...