Sarah Ison

PhD Title

Pfizer BBSRC CASE studentship: Addressing Pain at Parturition in Pigs

Defra: Re-designing the farrowing environment from first principles to optimize animal welfare and economic performance

BBSRC: Perinatal programming of stress responses, nociceptive mechanisms and the welfare consequences

PhD Supervisor

Prof Alistair Lawrence


Sarah IsonI graduated in 2004 with a BSc in Biological Sciences, specialising in the final year in Zoology, including courses in Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology and a research project entitled: The use of ultrasonic calls to assess pain in rats (Rattus norvegicus). This interest in animal behaviour lead me to undertake an MSc in the subject, including a research project entitled: A preliminary assessment of environmental enrichment for captive coyote pups (Canis latrans), at a USDA research centre in Utah.

After graduating in 2006 with an MSc, I started as a Research Assistant at SRUC, working on various projects with cattle, sheep and pigs. The main projects I have been involved in are with pigs, including: pig aggression, prenatal stress, transport in hot climates and re-designing farrowing environments to optimise animal welfare. After gaining a range of experience in animal behaviour and welfare research, in 2011, I started a 4 year PhD entitled: "Addressing pain at parturition in the pig".

This research project aims to use experimental studies to characterise pain at parturition in the pig, how pain relates to other farrowing measures and consider pain relief, including an assessment tool that could indicate where pain relief could best be applied. The second part of the project involves a survey study to establish farmers and veterinarians’ attitudes to pain in pigs, the level of analgesic use and possible barriers to their increased use.

My current research interests include using measures to assess pain in pigs and surveying attitudes to pain in pigs by experts who work closely with them.

Selected Publications

  • Ison, S. H., D’Eath, R. B., Robson, S. K., Baxter, E. M., Ormandy, E., Douglas, A. J., Russell, J. A., Lawrence, A. B. & Jarvis, S. (2010). “Subordination style” in pigs? The response of pregnant sows to mixing stress affects their offspring’s behaviour and stress reactivity. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 124(1-2), 16-27
  • D’Eath, R. B., Roehe, R., Turner, S. P., Ison, S. H., Farish, M., Jack, M. C., & Lawrence, A. B. (2009). Genetics of animal temperament: aggressive behaviour at mixing is genetically associated with the response to handling in pigs. Animal, 3(11), 1544
  • Turner, S. P., Roehe, R., D’Eath, R. B., Ison, S. H., Farish, M., Jack, M. C., Lundeheim, N., Rydhmer, L. & Lawrence, A. B.  (2009). Genetic validation of postmixing skin injuries in pigs as an indicator of aggressiveness and the relationship with injuries under more stable social conditions. Journal of animal science, 87(10), 3076-82

Sarah Ison

PhD Student

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

Telephone: 01316519343

Fax: 0131 535 3121