Animal Welfare Risk Factors and Solutions

We identify risk factors for poor welfare in real-life contexts, particularly livestock production, and develop practical solutions for existing and emerging welfare problems.

Our research is a central component of the work of the Animal Welfare and Behaviour group. It involves using measures of animal behaviour, health and welfare to identify and prioritise animal welfare problems, and then working towards strategies for their amelioration and the promotion of good welfare. To this end, we are increasingly interested in the development of automated in situ welfare and health monitoring. Examples of the many areas in which we have worked include: skeletal resistance in laying hens, leg disorders in broilers, welfare at stunning and slaughter, tail biting in pigs, lameness in cattle, injurious pecking in laying hens, fin erosion in farmed trout, housing improvements for caged rats, mice and rabbits, and kennelled dogs, welfare during transport and handling, welfare of working equids and racing greyhounds, welfare of re-homed dogs and cats, nest use in caged laying hens, welfare of sheep on farm and in markets, rehabilitation of captive primates for reintroduction into the wild, and welfare and health assessment of neotropical mammals.

Our work thus involves collaboration with BVS researchers in Infection, Inflammation and Immunotherapy, Global Food Security, Data Analytics, and Platform Technologies. We also have collaborations with researchers within and outside the wider University as detailed below.

Ongoing work and collaborators include

  • Reducing fin damage in farmed fish hatcheries (Collaborators: Jimmy Turnbull and Maureen Ellis (Stirling University), Jeff Lines (Silsoe Livestock Systems) and Tim Ellis (CEFAS, Weymouth))
  • Humane and Halal compliant pre-slaughter stunning of cattle (Collaborators: Jeff Lines (Silsoe Livestock Systems), Steve Wotton (Steve Wotton Ltd.), EuroMeat Group (Belgium), AHDB – Beef and Lamb)
  • Oral immunotherapy as a treatment to desensitize horses with insect bite hypersensitivity to Culicoides spp (Sweet Itch)
  • Improving the reliability of commercial captive bolt devices (In collaboration with Steve Wotton (Steve Wotton Ltd.) and Bock Industries, USA


Dr Suzanne Held
Senior Lecturer in Animal Science

Dr Sarah Lambton
Lecturer in Livestock Welfare and Innovation

Professor Michael Mendl 
Professor of Animal Behaviour and Welfare

Dr Nicola Rooney 
Senior Lecturer in Wildlife and Conservation

Professor John Tarlton 
Professor of Regenerative Medicine 

  • Sustainable dairy production and cattle welfare in ODA countries (in collaboration with KVASU, India, University of Nairobi, Kenya, University of Ghana and the University of Western Australia).
  • Data-driven housing design to reduce keel bone fractures in laying hens (Collaborators: Vencomatic, NL)
  • Grazing behaviour and greenhouse gas emissions associated with beef cattle (Collaborators: Dr Laura Cardenas, Dr Jordana Rivero-Viera, Rothamsted Research)
  • Survey of the health and welfare of sheep on UK farms
  • Experimental improvements in pullet rearing (Collaborator: Prof Christine Nicol (PI), Royal Veterinary College)
  • Modified rearing environments to reduce keel bone fractures in commercial laying hen systems in the USA (Collaborators: Maja Makagon and Richard Blatchford, UC Davis)
  • Welfare of racing greyhounds:  statistically modelling the population, reducing periodontal disease; optimising transportation (Collaborator: Prof Bill Browne (Graduate School of Education))
  • Welfare and health assessment of managed neotropical mammals in Brazil (Collaborators: Profs Selene Nogueira, Sergio Nogueira and George Albuquerque (Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz, Ilheus, Brazil), Prof Adroaldo Zanella (University of Sao Paolo, Brazil), Prof Mark Eisler (Bristol Veterinary School), Dr Carole Fureix (Plymouth University), Helena Telkanranta (University of Helsinki, Finland))
  • Rehabilitation of capuchin monkeys for reintroduction into the wild in northern Brazil (Collaborator: Prof Renata Ferreira, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, Brazil)
  • Welfare of racing greyhounds:  statistically modelling the population, reducing periodontal disease; optimising transportation.
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