The main research themes of the Animal Behaviour and Welfare team are understanding behavioural development in animals and the development of scientifically valid, practical and reliable methods of welfare assessment.
The team has close links with academic and industrial collaborators and can access a range of farm systems operated by SRUC which are equipped for behavioural and welfare studies, including a purpose built pig unit.
Current areas of interest include:
Improving adaptation of animals to the production environment through improved understanding of behavioural development.
Maternal behaviour and neonatal mortality in sheep and pigs.
Development of temperament using pigs as a model species.
Genetics of aggression in animals (focusing on pigs and beef cattle).
Adaptation of dairy cows to diverse production environments.
Development of science based and practical approaches to welfare assessment.
Scientific validation of developing methodology.
Evaluation of qualitative assessment as a practical tool for on-farm welfare surveillance and as a participatory approach to on-farm welfare management.
Evaluating relationships between different scientific measures of welfare (qualitative and quantitative).
Welfare of dairy cows in organic and non-organic production systems.