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Dr Marie Haskell

Senior Researcher and Reader
Animal Behaviour and Welfare
Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Research interests

My main area of research is in the behaviour and welfare of dairy cattle. I am also interested in personality in animals and have worked with dairy and beef cattle, sheep and dogs.

Using animal behaviour to assess welfare is a major research area. We are interested in how to assess fear and aggression in groups of dairy cattle. This work is being extended to exploring new methods of detecting welfare issues, such as via the use of thermal imaging to detect health issues, and via imaging techniques to assess animal emotional state.

Animal welfare is also affected by environment. I am interested in how management systems for cattle, such as continuous housing, or organic management affects welfare and health.

I am also interested in personality, particularly where it interacts with health and welfare. For instance, we are interested in whether personality affects health and how management and experience of animals affects their personality.

Emotion and cognition are other research areas. Understanding how animals recognise and respond to emotions in conspecifics is being addressed in a current PhD project by Lucille Bellegarde. A new project will also investigate how emotions are expressed in the facial features of cattle.

Selected research projects

  • Positive welfare indicators in dairy cattle
    Using farmer and other stake-holder participation, we aim to determine what behaviours or other indicators can be used to determine when cows are experiencing positive welfare.
  • Pain-faces in dairy cattle
    The use of ‘grimace scales’ to assess the degree of pain experienced by individuals has been developed in many laboratory animal species. We would like to assess the validity and use of the concept in dairy cattle.
  • The relationship between behaviour and efficiency in beef cattle
    Feeding behaviour has been shown to affect efficiency in beef cattle. However, other aspects of behaviour, such as activity and aggression, will be investigated.


  • MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare. Lead and lecture on the course on Motivation, emotion and cognition. Supervise dissertations.
  • MSc in International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law. Lecture on motivation, cognition and emotion, and welfare aspects of dairy production. Supervise dissertations.
  • Undergraduate lectures for SRUC and University of Edinburgh

PhD students

  • Lucille Bellegarde
    Recognition of emotional states of conspecifics by sheep and goats (In collaboration with INRA/AgroParisTech)
  • Mayumi Fujiwara
    The effect of pre-natal stress on behaviour and welfare in dairy calves
  • Sokratis Ptochos
    The effect of changing environmental conditions on parasitic infection in sheep

Selected publications

  • Haskell, M.J., Simm, G. and Turner, S.P. (2014). Genetic selection for temperament traits in dairy and beef cattle. Frontiers in Genetics: Livestock Genomics: 5: Article 368.
  • March, M.D., Haskell, M.J., Chagunda, M.G.G., Langford, F.M. and Roberts, D.J. (2014). Current trends in British dairy management regimens. Journal of Dairy Science: 97: 7985-7994.
  • Lofgren, S.E., Wiener, P., Blott, S.C., Sanchez-Molano, E., Woolliams, J.A., Clements, D.N. and Haskell, M.J. (2014). Management and Personality in Labrador Retriever dogs. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 156: 44-53
  • MacKay, J.R.D., Turner, S.P., Hyslop, J., Deag, J.M. and Haskell, M.J. (2013). Short term temperament tests in beef cattle relate to long term measures of behavior recorded in the home pen. Journal of Animal Science, 91, 4917-4924.
  • Haskell, M.J., Rennie, L.J., Bowell, V.A., Bell, M.J. and Lawrence, A.B. (2006).  Housing system, milk production and zero-grazing effects on lameness and leg injury in dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 89: 4259-4266.

See all of Dr Marie Haskell's publications.

Dr Marie Haskell

Reader in Dairy Cow Behaviour & Welfare

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

Telephone: 0131 651 9366

Fax: 0131 535 3121