» Past seminars at the Animal Welfare Group:

Animal Welfare: Applying Science to Practice

Professor Alistair Lawrence
The Scottish Agricultural College
June 20th , 12:00-1:00
Room 1240 Anthony Hall

The Scottish Agricultural College is committed to being a focus for knowledge transfer to the land-based industries.   We see 2 main 'drivers' for our research on animal welfare: (1) the widespread, if diffuse, public concern over farm animal welfare; (b) the commercial pressures which threaten the economic viability of UK and EU livestock industries.  From these drivers we have distilled 2 science objectives: (a) reducing or eliminating animal welfare problems by improving the adaptation of animals to sustainable production environments; (b) the development of scientifically valid and practical animal welfare assessment tools.  In my presentation I will describe current SAC research in these 2 areas:

(a) Improving adaptation:  In the past, the focus of much welfare research was on improving adaptation through alteration to the production environment.  In recent years this view has changed considerably and there is now active discussion of the potential of selective breeding to address welfare problems by improving adaptation.  I will discuss examples from our own research which illustrate the potential, and some of the difficulties including ethical issues which arise when we consider using genetics to address welfare problems.

(b) Animal welfare assessment:  We see a continuing need for development of welfare assessment tools, especially to meet the demands for scientifically valid methods of assessing animal welfare under field conditions. We have been validating a novel approach to welfare assessment, that involves using observers to provide qualitative descriptors of animal behaviour (e.g. anxious; confident).  Our results suggest that qualitative assessment has both sufficient scientific validity and practical utility for use in bridging the 'gap' between scientific and farm animal welfare assessments.

Lastly I will briefly describe our research on dairy cow welfare in which we are integrating both studies of adaptation and welfare assessment in relation to a range of dairy production environments.

Professor Alistair Lawrence

Alistair Lawrence holds the Chair of Animal Behaviour and Welfare at SAC.  He is responsible for the Department for Animal Behaviour and Welfare.  He sits on the Farm Animal Welfare Council which advises the UK government on all matters relating to farm animal welfare.  In the past he was the son of a pig farmer, who studied Zoology (St Andrews University) and gained a PhD on sheep behaviour (Edinburgh University) under the supervision of Professor David Wood-Gush.

Adele Douglass
(AHA) (View Bio) (Web Link) (view pdf file) (the Free Farmed Labeling and Certification Program)

Title: Free Farmed Certification and Labelling Program
The Free Farmed Certification and Labeling Program is about the only 3rd
party certification program about farm animal welfare in the USA. How it
started, what it does, what are the standards about and its success. There are no producers in Michigan on the program as yet and perhaps this introduction will encourage Michigan producers to become part of the program.

Dr. Temple Grandin (View her Bio here) (View her Michigan Cattlemans's report) (Web Link) (Download pdf flyer)

Title: Understanding Livestock Behavior & Methods to Reduce Stress
Has appeared on television shows such as 20/20, 48 Hours, CNN Larry King Live, and has been featured in People Magazine, the New York Times, Forbes, and U.S. News and World Report!

Dr. Michael Appleby, vice president of farm animals and sustainable agriculture for the Humane Society of the United States and Camie Heleski, Coach of the Michigan State Unversity Animal Welfare Judging Team.

Dr. Michael Appleby - Dr. Michael Appleby discussed some externalities associated with animal production systems and how they may affect food prices. He explored the similarities between environmental and animal welfare issues and proposed a working model to assess the acceptability of current practices in animal agriculture.

Dr. Appleby, vice president of farm animals and sustainable agriculture for the Humane Society of the United States, presented a trophy, commissioned by HSUS to Lynne Millman to Michigan State University Animal Welfare Judging Team. The team took first place in the inaugural Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging Competition held on the MSU campus March 1st/2002.

In addition to the traveling trophy the Humane Society of the United States donated to Michigan State University Animal Behavior and Welfare Group funds to further develop the Animal Welfare Judging concept.

Dr. Suzanne Millman – Humane Society of United States
Contemporary issues and animal agriculture: Are animal scientists and veterinarians addressing societal concerns? Dr. Millman received her Ph.D. in applied ethology from the University of Guelph, working with Dr. Ian Duncan in the Department of Animal and Poultry Science.

Her research investigated extreme aggressiveness in broiler breeder males. She is currently the Director of Scientific Programs with the Farm Animal and Sustainable Agriculture section of the HSUS, the nation’s largest animal protection organization.

Her responsibilities include raising awareness within the U.S. academic community about farm animal welfare issues, stimulating thoughtful discussion about ethical, environmental, and health issues associated with animal agriculture, and encouraging development of humane sustainable husbandry systems for farm animals.

Professor Ian Duncan - University of Guelph, Canada
The role of animal scientists in enhancing the field of animal welfare science. Professor Duncan has a dual appointment at Guelph in Animal and Poultry sciences and Biomedical Sciences and is the Chair for Animal Welfare there. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh in 1970, while studying domestic fowl and goal inaccessibility as it relates to frustration.

He has published over 150 scientific papers and his research program focuses on developing methods for assessing animal welfare through the utilization of preference tests and motivation tests. He has been a frequent keynote address speaker at international meetings.

Dr. James Serpell - University of Pennsylvania
Human-animal interactions. Dr. Serpell holds the position of Associate Professor of Humane Ethics & Animal Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Liverpool in 1979. His research has focused on human-animal interactions, more specifically the benefits of pet ownership on some aspects of human well-being.

Dr. Janice Swanson - Kansas State University
Animal welfare in the USA. Dr. Swanson is an associate professor at Kansas State University. She has been an active officer for the International Society of Applied Ethology and is one of only a handful of preeminent applied animal behavior and welfare researchers in the United States.

She recently served on the scientific board arranged by McDonald’s to establish welfare guidelines for the layer hen aspect of their industry.

Professor Donald Broom - University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Transportation issues Professor Broom is a professor in Animal Welfare within the Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge.

He has co-authored the book Stress and Animal Welfare, which is utilized in many undergraduate animal behavior classes. He has authored another six books and over 250 scientific articles. He is a member of the E.U. Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare.

Dr. Georgia Mason - BBSRC David Phillips Research Fellow, University of Oxford
Measuring motivation to assess and improve animal welfare Dr. Mason is author of one of the most cited applied ethology articles available, Sterotypies: a critical review.

Her research interests have focused on studying stereotypies, measuring animal motivation, and looking at how evolved predispositions have affected animals’ responses to captivity.

She completed her Ph.D. from Cambridge University in 1992 and has already garnered an impressive resume of published papers and book chapters, funded projects, and is highly sought after as an invited speaker.

Dr. David Fraser - University of British Columbia, Canada
Moral and ethical constraints associated with the changing nature of the interaction between humans and animals. Professor Fraser is a professor with Agricultural Sciences at the University of British Columbia. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Glasgow in 1973.

His research in applied animal behavior has covered a wide range of practical problems from moose-vehicle accidents to the management of laboratory rodents. He has written many articles and book chapters on relating ethics and animal welfare.

Joyce Kent M.Sc. (Edinburgh)
“Validation of methods for the assessment of an acute pain in lambs”
Dr. Kent graduated with her M.S. from Nottingham University, studying "The Effects of Road Transportation on Calves" with Dr. Roger Ewbank. This was followed by 13 years at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket, UK developing biochemical diagnostic techniques for use in horses, in particular immunological techniques for measuring serum concentrations of acute phase proteins and immunoglobulins.Dr. Kent is now a senior scientist working, for the last 12 years, on "The Recognition and Assessment of Pain in Farmed Livestock" with Professor Vince Molony at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Edinburgh. She was awarded a Winston Churchill Traveling Scholarship to study for 3 months welfare issues related to livestock mutilations in USA and New Zealand and is currently spending 6 weeks at Purdue University with Dr. D. Lay and colleagues.

Dr. Mendl
"Competitive foraging and visual perspective taking in thedomestic pig."
Recent research has focused on how livestock productivity and welfare can be affected by the animals’ cognitive abilities, with specific emphasis on pig cognition. In modern production systems, we constantly and inadvertently present our livestock with many learning and memory challenges. Knowledge of how much farm animals understand about their surroundings, how they use information about their physical environment and about the behavior and intentions of group mates can help us assess how they may be negatively or positively affected, both directly and indirectly, by common husbandry practices. His current work investigates whether pigs are able to adjust their foraging behavior depending on the presence or absence of a subordinate, exploitable co-forager that knows the location of food. Do they understand what others can and cannot see, and can they use this knowledge to their advantage?

February 27: Dr. Katherine Houpt

Title: Assessment of Equine Welfare:from the horse's mouth and hoof

She is a Professor of Physiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

Abstract: In order to determine the optimal environment for horses two choice preference tests, operant conditioning using a progressive ratio of reinforcement, quantitative analysis of long term video-recording and physiological measurements were used. Bedding, temperature. light, social conditions, exercise and diet were investigated. Horse prefer a bright, warm environment with other horses in direct or,at least,visual contact.They prefer a soft place to lie.They would rather not be forced to exercise at gaits faster than a walk and will work to obtain long stem hay when fed a pelleted diet.

Michigan State University Animal Behavior and Welfare Group
We organized the Regional Meeting of the International Society for Applied Ethology in 1998
June 26-27, 1998 at the Kellogg Center


Do you have feedback or questions about any of these seminars? Type your comment or question into the text box below and we will correspond with you shortly.

question / comment
your email
(after sumbitting, you will be returned to home)


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 ...

We have developed a model to increase education of animal welfare issues based on a traditional curriculum feature within animal science departments: judging teams ...
Equine Welfare Intervention
Strategy. is a ten-day intervention strategy designed to investigate the welfare of working horses, to develop realistic solutions to critical welfare issues facing these ...