Main Website Back Online!

We are really pleased to announce that our main website is up and running again!

It has had a few upgrades to security (including Wordfence and Akismet), an updated Privacy Policy (which clearly you should all read), some new articles and all the old content available to you again – enjoy! 

All future updates will be posted on the relevant pages on the main website, so do take some time to explore the sections we have on there. This blog site will no longer be maintained.


Scientific Officer Position at PDSA – Telford


PDSA are seeking a Scientific Officer to join their Veterinary and Policy Campaigns team based at their Head Office in Telford.

This full time temporary role is responsible for supporting the Evidence and Policy Manager in the delivery and management of PDSA approved data and policy, impact measurements and research studies.

The candidate will need a degree in animal welfare, veterinary or a related subject and experience of undertaking thorough literature reviews and possess an aptitude for working with figures and large data sets. Attention to detail and a logical, organised work ethic along with the ability to work collaboratively across disparate teams will be key within this role.

Salary: Up to £29,442 per annum dependent on experience

Closing date: 25/04/2019

Further information can be found here.

PhD Studentship at University of Nottingham


An interdisciplinary approach to understand sheep farmers decision making for management of sheep scab.


The PhD is supervised by Dr Jasmeet Kaler and Dr Fiona Lovatt and is part of highly collaborative multi-partner project (Moredun, Bristol, Glasgow and Nottingham) which brings together the UK’s leading experts on sheep scab from across industry and academia. This multidisciplinary project aims to address the challenge of sheep scab management via further understanding epidemiology of scab, optimisation of tools for diagnosis and understanding farmer behaviour and attitudes towards scab management.

This PhD is interdisciplinary in nature and as such would suit UK or EU applicants from a wide range of backgrounds, including (but not limited to) candidates with 2.1 undergraduate degrees in Veterinary Science or Animal Science or Social Sciences or Psychology. This is a 3 year studentship with a stipend of £14,777.

Applications should be submitted by 30th April 2019.


Further information available here.


New Research Article

Does tail handling induce depression in laboratory mice?




Photo credit Julia Kuppermann

Mice are the most widely used species for scientific research. In order to improve their welfare in the laboratory, we need to better understand how routine practices and procedures affect them in order to make refinements to their housing and husbandry. Recent work led by Dr Jasmine Clarkson and Prof Candy Rowe at Newcastle University found that the current practice of picking mice up using their tails is associated with a depressive-like state, which is not evident in mice handled using a tunnel (Clarkson et al., 2018).
The team demonstrated that mice handled using their tails were less sensitive to rewarding sucrose solutions and were anhedonic compared to mice handled using a tunnel. Anhedonia is a core symptom of clinical depression in humans and can be described as the reduction or inability to experience pleasure from rewarding stimuli. Traditionally, anhedonia has been measured in laboratory rodents by looking at how much sucrose they consume. In this study, how they drank was also considered, as their licking patterns can also reveal how much they ‘like’ something. Tail handled mice drank less sucrose and did so in shorter licking bouts compared to tunnel handled mice, indicative that they found the sucrose less rewarding. This has obvious implications for improving their welfare: building on previous studies by Professor Jane Hurst and colleagues at the University of Liverpool (Hurst and West, 2010; Gouveia et al., 2013, 2017). However, it also has implications for scientific research. Mice are commonly used for a wide range of experiments where reward is often used to train the animals to perform in a given task. Therefore, making refinements to the way that mice are handled, by using a tunnel, has the potential to improve performance, shorten training times and reduce sample sizes in scientific experiments. Taken together, the work provides more support for the adoption of non-aversive handling methods such as tunnel handling for laboratory mice, in order to improve both animal welfare but also the quality of scientific data.
The work was funded by the BBSRC (BB/J014516/1) and is published in Scientific Reports (

Clarkson, J. M. et al. (2018) ‘Handling method alters the hedonic value of reward in laboratory mice’, Scientific Reports, 8(1), p. 2448. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-20716-3.
Gouveia, K. et al. (2013) ‘Reducing Mouse Anxiety during Handling: Effect of Experience with Handling Tunnels’, PLoS ONE. Edited by E. M. Mintz. Public Library of Science, 8(6), p. e66401. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066401.
Gouveia, K. et al. (2017) ‘Optimising reliability of mouse performance in behavioural testing: the major role of non-aversive handling’, Scientific Reports. Nature Publishing Group, 7, p. 44999. doi: 10.1038/srep44999.
Hurst, J. L. and West, R. S. (2010) ‘Taming anxiety in laboratory mice’, Nature, 7(10), pp. 825–826. doi: 10.1038/NMETH.1500.


New Research Article

Leibnitz-Insitut für Nutztierbiologie Dummerstorf (FBN)
Foto: Thomas Häntzschel / nordlicht

Farm Animal Cognition – Linking Behavior, Welfare and Ethics

Are farm animals smart? And if yes, why should we care? In recent decades, research on the cognitive capacities of non-human animals has gained increasing attention. However, compared to the amount of research that has been conducted on some model species, studies on the cognitive capacities of farm animals are heavily underrepresented. Given the number of livestock animals worldwide, this lack of research is surprising because knowledge of the mental capacities of farm animals is highly relevant as it can affect their welfare. We need to understand how farm animals perceive their physical and social environment to appropriately assess their ability to cope with husbandry systems and to provide them with opportunities to fulfil their cognitive needs (e.g. via enrichment).

This review by AWRN-member Christian Nawroth and colleagues aims to outline the current state of farm animal cognition research, considering aspects such as categorisation, numerical ability, object permanence, tool use, individual discrimination and recognition, communication with humans and social learning.


Nawroth C, Langbein J, Coulon M, Gabor V, Oesterwind S, Benz-Schwarzburg J and von Borell E (2019) Farm Animal Cognition—Linking Behavior, Welfare and Ethics. Front. Vet. Sci. 6:24.


Workshop on “Welfare Indicators for Novel Species in Aquaculture”

Swansea University – Singleton Campus
Tuesday 14th May 2019 9am to 4pm

Meeting high welfare standards during aquaculture diversification is essential for the sustainable growth of the industry, but the culture of novel species poses particular challenges as there is typically limited information to guide best practices. Much has been learned about the welfare requirements of species like salmon, trout or tilapia, but whether this body of knowledge can also be applied to lesser-known species, novel to aquaculture is unclear.
Drawing on contributions from researchers, industry and regulators, this one-day symposium will explore the commonalities and differences in the welfare requirements of different farmed species, and will ask whether some basic welfare metrics exist. It will be followed by a workshop on the welfare requirements of lumpfish, one of the fastest growing farmed fish in Europe.

Places are limited – free early booking is advisable

Further details and the link to register are available here.




Morning symposium – Faraday Building Lecture Room

09:00-09:20 Registration & Welcome.

09:20-09:50 | The effects of stress on the welfare of farmed fish. Uses and misuses of cortisol measurements. Professor Michalis Pavlidis (University of Crete, Greece)

09:50-10:20 | The use of fish behaviour in aquaculture and its use as an operational welfare indicator. Dr. Sonia Rey-Planellas (Stirling University, UK)

10:20-10:50 | Fish welfare criteria in worldwide aquaculture: the CAREFISH project. Maria Filipa Castanheira (University of Algarve, Portugal)

10:50 – 11:10 Coffee Break

11:10-11:30 | Development of operational welfare indicators for lumpfish. Carolina Gutierrez-Rabadan (CSAR, Swansea University, UK)

11:30-11:50 | RSPCA (TBC)

11:50-12:10 | Industry/Retail (TBC)

12:00 – 13:00 Lunch Break

Afternoon Workshop – Welfare of Lumpfish (room to be confirmed)

13:00 -13:10 | Introduction to break out sessions

13:15 – 15:00 | Breakout sessions on three key challenges:

  1. a) Which welfare indicators are most meaningful for lumpfish?
  2. b) What can the industry do to improve the welfare of lumpfish?
  3. c) What does the public/consumers require?

15:00 – 15:30 | Feedback from each group presented by theme leaders

15:30 – 16:00 | General Discussion & Recommendations

16:00 Close



Carlos Garcia de Leaniz, Sara Barrento, Carolina Gutierrez-Rabadan

Swansea University, Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research

Research Assistant / Associate University of Glasgow


Research Assistant / Associate in Rodent Welfare During Euthanasia


Reference Number      024306

Location                        Gilmorehill Campus / Main Building

Department                  BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED

Job Type                        Full Time

Salary Range                 £28,660 – £32,236/£35,210 – £39,610

Closing Date                  11th March 2019

Job Purpose

The post-holder will contribute to a BBSRC funded project on “Decompression killing in laboratory rodents: an humane alternative to carbon dioxide?” working with Dorothy McKeegan and collaborators in the Universities of Edinburgh and Newcastle. Specifically, the job requires expert knowledge in physiological and/or neurophysiological research techniques in rodents or other species.

The post-holder will also be expected to contribute to the formulation and submission of research publications and research proposals as well as help manage and direct this complex and challenging project, as opportunities allow.

Further information can be found on the University of Glasgow webpage using the Job reference 024306.

PhD on Cat Welfare at Queen’s University Belfast




The School of Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast invites applications for a fully funded PhD entitled ‘Understanding the evolutionary mechanisms underlying infant features in cats and their implications for animal welfare’.

Project information

Infant features are physical traits that are characteristic of human infants and include facial features such as a large forehead, large and low-lying eyes, and a small nose and mouth. Animals possessing high levels of infant features are perceived as ‘cute’ and elicit care-giving responses in humans. The overall aim of this project is to assess the impact of possessing high versus low levels of infant features on cat welfare.  The relationship between infant features in cats and cat temperament, health and the strength of the pet-owner bond will be explored. In addition, the role that infant features play the adoptability of shelter cats will be evaluated.

Applicants must have at least a 2.1 degree (or equivalent) in Psychology or a related subject such as Zoology or Animal Science. A Masters level qualification in an area such as Evolutionary Psychology or Animal Behaviour and Welfare is desirable.

This 3 year PhD is funded by the Northern Ireland Department for the Economy (DfE). See for funding details and eligibility criteria.

The deadline for applications for this opportunity is Monday 25th March 2019, see How to Apply:

For informal enquiries, contact Dr Grace Carroll at

PhD on Behavioural, physiological and production effects of dairy cow-calf rearing systems

Harper Adams have a PhD position available on behavioural, physiological and production effects of dairy cow-calf rearing systems.

Background to the project:

Naturally, following parturition the calf would remain with the cow, nursing for many months and forming strong bonds with its mother and other cows and calves within the herd. In contrast, the dairy-bred calf may be removed from its dam within a few hours of birth and placed in individual or group housing and fed colostrum and milk artificially until weaning, whilst the cow re-enters the milking herd. Public concern about separating the cow and calk soon after birth is increasing. Therefore, more research is required to investigate possible cow-calf rearing systems which are attractive for farmers, the public and animals. The research will focus on the effects of rearing the cow and calf together to meet the needs of both the cow and the calf and provide an opportunity for them to experience a much closer and more natural relationship.

Aims and objectives:

The aim of this project is to explore cow-calf rearing systems to improve welfare on diary farms. The objectives are to determine whether there are any behavioural, physiological or production differences between different rearing systems and to investigate optimal strategies of separating the calf and the cow.

Closing date for applications is 7th March 2019.

Further information is available here.

Scientific researcher position – ethology, social behaviour of pigs and welfare

A permanent position is available at the PEGASE (Physiology, Environment and Genetics for the Animal and Livestock Systems) research unit in the vicinity of Rennes, for an ethologist working on pig social behaviour .

The successful candidate will study inter-individual relationships in young reared pigs and will determine the underlying cognitive and emotional bases. They will explore the inter-individual variability and will search for the existence of typical profiles in the pig’s capacity to establish links with their fellows. The causes of this inter-individual variability must be studied, in particular the influence of early experiences, epigenetics and genetics. In the long term they will explore the possibility of improving the adaption of the animals to their rearing conditions using the mechanisms of emotional and behavioural contagion in the herd, imitation or social learning. In the course of their work they will identify the key factors that promote animal welfare.

Further information is available here.