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Dr Kenny Rutherford

Reader in Animal Welfare Science
Animal Behaviour & Welfare
Animal & Veterinary Sciences

Research interests 

My main areas of research interest are in the assessment of animal pain, and the animal welfare implications of prenatal stress in farmed animals.

My current research focuses on behavioural development and the relevance of very early life (prenatal) experiences for later welfare in pigs, cattle and sheep. A recent Defra funded study (AW0509) also conducted a risk assessment for prenatal hazards in these species, and in poultry and farmed fish. Before that I worked on a BBSRC funded study investigating the effect of prenatal stress and tail-docking on pig welfare. I have also worked previously on on-farm welfare assessment as part of a Defra-funded study (AW1020) comparing welfare measures on organic and non-organic dairy farms.

Selected research projects

  • Livestock production, health, welfare and disease control: Improved husbandry & reduction of painful procedures (RESAS)
    Research work examining the impact of maternal body condition in beef cows on progeny health, welfare and productivity.
  • Do gastric ulcers harm the welfare of finishing pigs? (Danish Pig Research Centre)
    Research work investigating whether gastric ulcers are painful for pigs.
  • Effects of early environment on behaviour, reproduction, welfare and product quality of livestock (RESAS)
    Research work examining the effects of prenatal stress in livestock, particularly sheep (in collaboration with Prof Cathy Dwyer at SRUC and Prof Cheryl Ashworth at Roslin Institute).
  • Early environment effects on animal welfare, health and productivity (Defra)
    Production of a risk assessment of the effects of prenatal stress in farmed animals, including sheep, pigs, cattle, poultry and fish (in collaboration with Prof Jimmy Turnbull at University of Stirling).


I teach on the ‘Biology of Suffering’ module within the University of Edinburgh MSc in Applied Animal Welfare and Animal Behaviour.

PhD students

  • Leonor Valente
    ‘Impact of prenatal and postnatal stress on offspring behaviour and epigenetic regulation of stress axis function in sheep’ (with Prof Cathy Dwyer SRUC, and Dr Carl Stevenson, Prof Kevin Sinclair University of Nottingham).
  • Mayumi Fujiwara
    ‘Impacts of stress and nutrition during the dry period on dairy calf health, welfare and production’ (with Dr Marie Haskell SRUC, and Dr Alastair MacRae, R(D)SVS).
  • Carol Thompson (completed)
    ‘Identifying barriers to pain mitigation in farm animals’ (with Dr Jo Connington SRUC, and Dr Joanne Williams, University of Edinburgh).
  • Sarah Ison (completed)
    ‘Addressing pain at parturition in pigs’ (with Prof Alistair Lawrence, Dr Susan Jarvis SRUC,  and Prof Cheryl Ashworth, Roslin Institute).
  • Kasia Maslowska (completed)
    ‘Effect of immunocastration on lamb behaviour, meat quality and welfare’ (with Prof Cathy Dwyer SRUC, and Prof Eddie Clutton, R(D)SVS).

Selected publications

  • Rutherford, K. M. D., Piastowska, A., Donald, R. D., Robson, S. K., Ison, S. H., Brunton, P. J., Russell, J. A. & Lawrence, A. B. 2014. Prenatal stress produces anxiety prone female offspring and impaired maternal behaviour in the domestic pig. Physiology & Behavior 129, 255-264
  • Rutherford, K. M. D., Baxter, E. M., D’Eath R. B., Turner, S. P., Arnott, G., Roehe, R., Ask, B.,  Sandøe, P., Moustsen, V. A., Thorup, F. Edwards, S. A., Berg, P. & Lawrence, A. B. 2013. The welfare implications of large litter size in the domestic pig I: Biological factors. Animal Welfare 22, 199-218
  • Rutherford K. M. D., Donald, R. D., Arnott, G., Rooke, J. A., Dixon, L., Mettam, J., Turnbull, J. & Lawrence, A. B. 2012. Farm animal welfare: assessing risks attributable to the prenatal environment. Animal Welfare 21, 419-429
  • Rutherford, K. M. D., Donald, R. D., Lawrence, A. B. & Wemelsfelder, F. 2012. Qualitative Behavioural Assessment of Emotionality in Pigs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 139, 218-224
  • Rutherford, K. M. D., Robson, S. K., Donald, R. D., Jarvis, S., Sandercock, D. A., Nolan, A. M. & Lawrence, A. B. 2009. Pre-natal stress amplifies the immediate behavioural responses to acute pain in piglets. Biology Letters 5, 452-454

See all of Dr Kenny Rutherford's publications.

Dr Kenneth Rutherford


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

Telephone: 0131 651 9345

Fax: 0131 535 3121