Thousands of animals are housed in captive conditions worldwide, often to
the detriment of their
mental well-being. Scientists at Queen's Animal Behaviour Centre have
spent the last 20 years
developing new ways of improving the psychological welfare of animals
housed in captivity. Their
research has shown that classical music and scents such as lavender in dog
shelters calms the
animals, and that shielding zoo-housed gorillas from visitors with
camouflage netting over the
viewing windows, prevents great apes from becoming agitated. The impact of
extends to guidelines and regulations set by the American Veterinary
Medical Association, the
UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the British and
Irish Association of Zoos
and Aquariums and the Australian Government's National Health and Medical
Commercial impact includes CDs of music composed specifically for dogs,
now widely available to
buy on the open market, and being utilised in 1700+ rescue shelters and by
over 150,000 pet
owners around the globe.
Impact: Policy / animal welfare / economic. European Directives on
Animal Welfare have been changed to improve animal comfort during
transport. Our research has provided a basis for establishing
comfort/discomfort at an objective, physiological level through response
modelling and the quantitative assessment of the effects of thermal
conditions. The definition of optimum transport environments has
underpinned improved transport vehicle design and operation and formed the
basis of the development of regulations for improved animal welfare.
Significance: ~60 billion animals are transported world-wide each
Beneficiaries: EU policy makers (leading to revised Directives),
UK Government departments (especially Defra), and animals during
Attribution: Prof. Mitchell (SRUC).
Reach: All EU Member States, Canada, and the US.
Impact on health and welfare: The health and welfare of laying
hens has been improved by the EU-wide ban on the use of small, barren
battery cages, enabled by UoE research on the relationship between cage
design and welfare.
Impact on public policy and services: The EU banned conventional
battery cages for laying hens through a directive that came into effect on
1st January 2012. New Zealand followed with its own ban in
Impact on production: Farmers have changed from housing laying
hens in battery cages to using more welfare-friendly furnished cages or
Impact on commerce: In the UK, over £400M has been spent to meet
the standards laid down by the EU directive.
Beneficiaries: Laying hens in Europe and New Zealand; farmers who
use furnished cages as an economically efficient alternative to
Significance and Reach: The improved welfare of over 1.3 billion
laying hens in Europe and New Zealand.
Attribution: All research was led by Dr Michael Appleby,
University of Edinburgh (1984-2001), with collaborators at the Roslin
Institute (now UoE), Uppsala and Bristol.
Professor Marian Dawkins' research at the University of Oxford has established rigorous metrics of
welfare for commercially-reared chickens and ducks, that have had a major impact on policy and
practice. Her findings in relation to stocking densities for broiler chickens influenced the 2007 EU
Broiler Directive; this was adopted by the UK in 2010, and has had a major impact on the industry.
For ducks, research examined the provision of water, for which there were contradictory indications
with respect to welfare and bacterial infections, and identified solutions for both. Since 2010 this
has been incorporated into duck welfare programmes in which both Defra and industry participate.
Impact: Policy, Animal Health and Welfare: Improved sow and piglet
welfare and recommendations and codes of practice for farrowing and
lactation systems that better meet sow and piglet needs.
Significance: Farrowing crates restrict sow movements interfering
with natural sow behaviour and increasing psychological distress. Used
predominantly to protect piglets, SRUC research demonstrated that piglet
survival improved in loose-housed environments, undermining crate use.
Beneficiaries: Farmers, sows and piglets, the general public
Attribution: Drs Baxter and Jarvis, Professors Lawrence and Roehe
(SRUC). Research collaboration was with Prof Sandra Edwards, University of
Reach: International legislative bans on farrowing crates;
voluntary industry uptake of non-crate systems; EU
recommendations/legislation on housing at farrowing, guidelines for
keeping pigs (e.g. RSPCA Freedom Food).
The use and treatment of animals in the provision of our food, clothing
and other raw materials, as well as in the areas of medical research,
sport and entertainment, polarises public opinion and provokes extreme
views. Research by Professor Robert Garner on the ethics and politics of
animal protection has provided a springboard for political debate and
decision making both in the UK and internationally. In particular,
Garner's work has impacted upon the debate within the animal protection
movement, and has helped to shape aspects of government policy on animal
welfare issues in general, most notably on the UK Government's approach to
the issue of whaling, and DEFRA's approach to the ethics of using wild
animals in circuses.
Research undertaken at Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) studied
habitat enrichment in captive coyotes (with the National Wildlife Research
Center in Utah), and herd composition of donkeys, horses and mules (with
the Donkey Sanctuary). These studies observed social and environmental
interactions, addressing important welfare indicators in gregarious
species. The work identified welfare issues in both sites and provided the
necessary evidence to allow improvements to be made.
Specifically, this research has:
1) led to changes in the husbandry practice and policy in both partner
institutions that have improved animal welfare;
2) improved how the Donkey Sanctuary trains international partners and
undertakes welfare education.
Hundreds of millions of laying hens in the European Community are now
kept in enriched cages with significantly more space than conventional
battery cages and with specific provision for nesting, scratching and
perching. Research undertaken at Bristol University provided much of the
evidence base for the full implementation of the relevant European
directive in January 2012; the prohibition of the conventional battery
cage and the introduction of a superior, scientifically researched
alternative. This has had a dramatic impact on husbandry standards and
the welfare of laying hens. With Bristol's involvement, similar
progress has also been made in countries beyond Europe.
The mouse is the most important laboratory animal used worldwide in
biomedical research and for regulatory testing of products. Research at
the University of Liverpool by Prof Hurst has led to a change in the
methods universally recommended for routine handling of mice to minimize a
well- recognized problem that handling can create high anxiety, stress and
a risk of animals biting the handler. This has impacts for animal welfare,
for practitioners, and for reliability in a broad range of research and
testing using mice (e.g. in the pharmaceuticals industry) where responses
can be confounded by uncontrolled anxiety responses. Mouse handling
guidelines have been changed and are being implemented in animal research
Veterinarians have long recognised health problems associated with
in-breeding and extreme
conformation in various pedigree dogs. However, the `Pedigree Dogs
Exposed' documentary in
2008, which particularly featured the plight of Cavalier King Charles
Spaniels (CKCS), and
resultant independent inquiry reports, to which RVC contributed, brought
the extent and severity of
the issue into the public eye. RVC's ongoing programme of research linked
to interaction with
stakeholders has contributed to the changes in breed standards instituted
by the Kennel Club (KC);
understanding of underlying principles governing the relationship between
structure and function
and affecting desired traits; developing tools to address
conformation-related health problems; and
driving changes in breeding practice leading to healthier dogs.