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Dr Emma Baxter

Senior Researcher
Animal Behaviour and Welfare
Animal and Veterinary Science

Research interests 

I specialise in pigs, but have a more general background in all aspects of animal welfare and behaviour. My research interests include:

  • Neonatal survival.
  • Developing alternative farrowing and lactation systems for sows and litters.
  • Implementing uptake of high welfare systems and practices.
  • Mitigating the health and welfare impacts of selection for production traits such as hyper-prolificacy.
  • Using technology to allow early detection of animal health and welfare problems.
  • Optimising performance of high welfare systems using genetic selection strategies.
  • Understanding the short- and long-term health and welfare benefits of positive early-life experiences and understanding negative affective states in sows (e.g. hunger and exhaustion) and their impact on mother and offspring (pre- and post-natal).

Engagement with key stakeholders in industry in order to translate science into practice and support welfare changes at the farm level is an important aspect of my work. As well as traditional consultations with those in the supply chain I have developed a web-based platform ( to support uptake of high welfare farrowing and lactation systems. I am a member of SRUC’s pig strategy group and externally I sit on the RSPCA’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Board for pig standards.

Selected research projects

    Sainsbury’s R&D grant: Selecting the right sow for free-farrowing systems.
  • PigSAFE
    Defra “Re-designing the farrowing environment from first principles to optimise animal welfare and economic performance (Phase I&II)”.
  • Thriving is more than surviving
    Development of strategies to optimise behavioural and physical development (REG).
  • Early detection of tail biting in pigs using 3D video to measure tail posture
    AgriTech Catalyst grant.
  • RESAS 2016-2021 RD 2.2.8 'Improved husbandry and reduction of painful procedures'


I lecture to postgraduate students on the Early Life module on the MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare specifically housing and husbandry of pregnant and lactating livestock. I give similar lectures for the on-line MSc in International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law and EU-funded “Better Training for Safer Food”-Training courses on Animal welfare in pig production. I also co-organise the dissertation part of the MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare.

PhD students

  • Oceane Schmitt
    The PhD is a Walsh Fellowship funded by the Irish Research Council. It involves collaboration between Teagasc, SRUC and the University of Edinburgh. The PhD is entitled “Increasing sow output through implementation of pre-weaning interventions (nurse sows, rescue decks and energy supplementation) to keep weak piglets alive”.

Selected publications

  • Baxter, E.M., Mulligan, J., Hall, S.A., Donbavand, J.E., Palme, R., Aldujaili, E., Zanella, A.J. & Dwyer, C.M. 2016. Positive and negative gestational handling influences placental traits and mother-offspring behavior in dairy goats. Physiology & Behavior. 157, 129-138.
  • Baxter EM, Adeleye OO, Jack M, Farish, M, Ison SH and Edwards SA. 2015. Achieving optimum farrowing performance in a loose-housed system for sows: the effects of space and temperature. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 169, 9-16.
  • Baxter, E.M., K. M. D. Rutherford, R. B. D'Eath, G. Arnott, S. P. Turner, P. Sandoe, V. A. Moustsen, F. Thorup, S. A. Edwards, A. B. Lawrence. The welfare implications of large litter size in the domestic pig II: management factors. 2013. Animal Welfare Vol: 22 Pages: 219-238
  • Baxter, E.M., Lawrence,A.B. & Edwards,S.A. 2012. Alternative farrowing accommodation: welfare and economic aspects of existing farrowing and lactation systems for pigs. Animal, 6, 96-117.
  • Baxter EM, Jarvis S, D'Eath RB, Ross DW, Robson SK, Farish M, Nevison IM, Lawrence AB and Edwards SA. 2008. Investigating the behavioural and physiological indicators of neonatal survival in pigs. Theriogenology, 69, 773-783.

See all of Dr Emma Baxters's publications.

Dr Emma Baxter


Address: Animal & Veterinary Sciences, SRUC, Roslin Institute Building, Easter Bush, Midlothian EH25 9RG

Telephone: 0131 651 9354

Fax: 0131 535 3121