Program 1 - Animal Welfare Methodology & Assessment

The community generally accepts the role of the scientific method to solve problems. However, there is considerable uncertainty within science on the concept of animal welfare. Scientists differ in their views on how animal welfare should be measured or judged, with three prominent concepts of animal welfare in the literature: the welfare of animals is judged on the basis of (1) how well the animal is performing from a biological functioning perspective; (2) affective states, such as suffering, pain and other feelings or emotions; and (3) the expression of normal or ‘natural’ behaviours.
In this program, we undertake projects to further our understanding of the relationships between these concepts and methodologies.

Bobby calf welfare

Investigators: A. Fisher, E. Jongman, P Mansell

Student: N. Roadknight

Funding: Strategic Partnership for Animal Welfare RD&A / Parmalat / Meat and Livestock Australia.

Commencement date: 2017

Completion date: 2020

The goal of this PhD project is to measure the health and welfare status of bobby calves within the supply chain, and to identify variations in calf hydration, glucose levels, and colostral immunity in relation to breed, bodyweight, time off feed and transport distance.

The project will then include research on-farm (and onwards in the supply chain) to validate the optimal calf preparation strategies indicated by the initial research to provide objective data on industry performance, as well as forming the basis of updated advice to farmers on areas of calf preparation on which to focus for ensuring optimal calf welfare.


Developing ways to measure and increase sow contentment

Investigators: R. Doyle, K. Plush, R. Morrison, C. Ralph, G. Cronin, C. Lee, S. Hazel

Funding: CRC for High Integrity Australian Pork

Commencement date: 2015

Completion date: 2018

This project assessed the contentment of sows during lactation by using scientific indicators of positive welfare and then developing practical measures for use on farm. This study also assessed the effect enrichment has on the welfare of lactating sows, with the hypothesis being that enrichment will increase the level of contentment a sow experiences during lactation.


Evaluation of the welfare risks and impacts of roping

Investigators: E. Jongman, L. Hemsworth

Funding: Parks Victoria

Commencement date: 2017

Completion date: 2018

This project will develop, implement and report on the outcomes of a framework and protocol for assessing the animal welfare issues, risks and impacts of roping as a management technique for feral horses in the Eastern Alps.


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