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Unit information: Animal Welfare and Disease in 2015/16

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Unit name Animal Welfare and Disease
Unit code VETS33001
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Nicol
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Veterinary School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

Unit Aims

· To develop students’ understanding of the principle approaches to assessing animal welfare, based on animal preferences, emotions and welfare indicators.

· To present key findings in fundamental stress physiology, pain perception and immune function necessary to understand links between mental and physical health.

· To encourage students to apply the knowledge gained so far to real life situations concerning animal use in domestic and wild populations

Unit Description

This unit develops and extends your existing knowledge of the principles of animal behaviour, stress physiology and immunology introduced in Level C and Level I units to show how these can be used for the scientific assessment of suffering, welfare and well-being. It explores the complex inter-relationships between subjective experience of fear, anxiety, stress or pain and the functioning of the immune system and susceptibility to disease. It also explores the converse relationships between disease and well-being.

You will be taught how indicators of welfare are developed from a solid scientific basis, and how they can be employed in experimental and real-life (welfare auditing) contexts. It also explores the links between indicators of welfare and animals’ own choices, decisions and motivational priorities.

The unit seeks to show how animal welfare and disease are issues not just for domestic animals but also within a conservation or wildlife context.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • Develop a detailed knowledge of the inter-relationships between pain, stress, immune function and disease susceptibility in animals.
  • Critically evaluate the use of pain, stress and immune variables as welfare ‘indicators’.
  • Understand how research into animal preferences, choices and emotions can

inform welfare assessments.

  • Understand the likely impact of animal disease on welfare state.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how humans influence health and disease in wildlife populations.
  • Apply underlying principles and concepts and use a range of established techniques to assess animal welfare in new contexts, and to begin to propose solutions to welfare problems.

Teaching Information

Lectures, practicals, seminars, visits, interactive sessions with guest lecturers

Assessment Information

Exam 80%, Coursework 20%.

Coursework assignment involves a welfare audit practical and the preparation of a document on novel measures that could be used in future welfare audits

Reading and References

  • Farm Animal Welfare Council Reports
  • European Union Scientific Committee Reports
  • Animal Welfare (2nd Edition) 2011 Eds Appleby, M.C., Mench, J.A., Olsson, I.A.S. and Hughes, B.O. CABI International
  • Smith J & Boyd K 1991 Lives in the Balance OUP Oxford
  • Moberg, and Mench, J. (2000) The Biology of Stress, CABI
  • Flecknell, P. and Waterman-Pearson, A.E. (Eds) Pain management in Animals.
  • CJ Woolf & MS Chong (1993). Pre-emptive analgesia – treating post-operative pain by preventing the establishment of central sensitisation. Anesthesia and Analgesia 77, 362-379.
  • Day, M. and Schultz, (2010). Veterinary immunology. Manson Publishing
  • Textbook of Veterinary Physiology. Cunningham.
  • Koolhaas, J. M. et al. 1999. Coping styles in animals: Current status in behavior and stress-physiology. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 23: 925-935.
  • Blanchard, R. J., C. R. McKittrick, and D. C. Blanchard. 2001. Animal models of social stress: Effects on behavior and brain neurochemical systems. Physiology & Behavior 73: 261-271.
  • Tamashiro, K. L. K., M. M. N. Nguyen, and R. R. Sakai. 2005. Social stress: From rodents to primates. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology 26: 27-40.
  • Johnson, R. W. (2002) The concept of sickness behavior: a brief chronological account of four key discoveries. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology 87 (3-4): 443-450
  • Goymann, W. & Wingfield, J. C. (2004) Allostatic load, social status and stress hormones: the costs of social status matter. Animal Behaviour 67 591-602
  • Simmonds, M. P and Brakes, P. (2011) Whales and Dolphins: cognition, culture, conservation and human perceptions, Earthscan.