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Kirstin McIlvaney

Experimental Manager
Animal Behaviour and Welfare
Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Research interests 

I have a particular interest in non invasive means of data collection such as the use of ultrasound in foetal development and sensors to monitor welfare. I am especially interested the role new technologies can bring to research.

I have also developed an interest in all things relating to maternal behaviour and neonatal development. I am focussed on improving the efficiency of data collection as well as promoting high standards of data management.

I routinely help develop and advance novel and practical methods of data collection. I aim to keep up to date with current technology and cultivate its use to fit research needs, refining data recording efficiency and accuracy.

I am currently involved in providing technical assistance and experimental management on a variety projects including the development of welfare indicators, pig aggression, investigating positive welfare, welfare studies of harm and the role of maternal care on positive welfare.

Selected research projects

  • Sensor based Animal Welfare Assessment (WP 6.3, Scabby Sheep)
    Looking at sheep infected with sheep scab mite and how we can assess their welfare using sensors.
  • Stroppy Cow  (Scottish Government)
    Quantifying the relationships between temperament and maternal care in beef cattle.
  • U FP7: AWIN Project (several European collaborators)
    Developing welfare assessment protocols for sheep and goats.
  • Mother-offspring interactions
    Scottish Government WP2.4 Sheep Nutrition: Assessing the effects of early life nutrition on subsequent health, behaviour and welfare of sheep and mice.
  • EWEs project (Defra)
    Impact of labour on welfare in extensive sheep flocks.


I assist teaching students from the MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare at the University of Edinburgh on the use of The Observer software and help them develop their MSc dissertation projects.

Selected publications

  • Ashworth, C. J., Dwyer, C. M., McIlvaney, K., Werkman M. and Rooke, J. A. (2011)  Breed differences in fetal and placental development and feto-maternal amino acid status following nutrient restriction during early and mid pregnancy in Scottish Blackface and Suffolk sheep. Reproduction, Fertility and Development, Vol. 23 No. 8 Pages 1024 – 1033.
  • Matheson, S.M., Rooke, J.A., McIlvaney, K.M., Ison, S., Jack, M., Bunger, L., Ashworth, C.J. & Dwyer, C.M. (2011) Development and validation of ‘on-farm’ behavioural scoring systems to assess birth assistance and lamb vigour. Animal 5: 776-783
  • Dwyer, C. M., Moinard, C., McIlvaney, K. M., Morgan, C. A., and Bunger, L. (2011) The effect of gestational undernutrition on maternal weight change and fetal weight in lines of mice selected for different growth characteristics. British Journal of Nutrition (2011), 105, 539–548
  • Rooke, J. A, Houdijk, J. G. M., McIlvaney, K., Ashworth, C. J., and Dwyer, C. M. (2010) Differential effects of maternal undernutrition between days 1 and 90 of pregnancy on ewe and lamb performance and lamb parasitism in hill or lowland breeds. Journal of Animal Science 88:3833-3842
  • Morgan, C. A., McIlvaney, K. M., Dwyer, C. M., Lawrence, A. B. (2009) Assessing the welfare challenges to out-wintered pregnant suckler cows ANIMAL VL 3 IS 8 BP 1167 EP 1174

See all of Kirstin McIlvaney's publications.

Kirstin McIlvaney

Address: Animal Behaviour and Welfare
Animal & Veterinary Sciences Group
Roslin Institute Building
Easter Bush
EH25 9RG

Telephone: 0131 6506249