Professor David Main specialises in animal welfare assessment and improvement. Alongside colleagues in the School of Veterinary Sciences, his research into scoring systems, such as dairy cattle lameness, has been widely adopted in UK and internationally to identify problem animals, assess the severity of the problem and monitor the effectiveness of husbandry strategies.
In 2008, DairyCo, a not-for-profit organisation working on behalf of Britain’s dairy farmers, launched a new lameness management tool called the DairyCo Mobility Score, which was developed with the University of Bristol. Major retailers, such as Tesco, McDonald’s, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda and Waitrose are now using the scoring system resulting in direct welfare benefits for dairy cows and improved profitability for businesses at every stage in the supply line.
Professor Main is also project co-ordinator of a large charity-funded project called AssureWel. In collaboration with RSPCA and Soil Association, welfare assessment scoring systems have been embedded into certification schemes such as Red Tractor Assurance, RSPCA Assured and Soil Association Organic Schemes. This schemes are used by UK retailers to provide assurances to consumers on animal welfare standards.
The University of Bristol is also leading an EU H2020 project, called Hennovation, that is investigating the value of participatory approaches to innovation on the laying hen sector. In collaboration with local veterinary surgeons and farm advisors up to 20 networks have been established to support innovative husbandry strategies coming from producers and industry.