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Dr Poppy Statham

Biography

I obtained an undergraduate degree in Ecology from the University of Lancaster in 1998. My favourite courses were those on animal behaviour and so after a short time working in the field of ecology I decided to study for the Masters in Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare at the University of Edinburgh. This directed my interest in animal behaviour towards the field of animal welfare, something I have been working in ever since.

In my first research job I studied the ability of chickens to move between perches over different heights and distances at Heriot-Watt University. I then moved to the University of Bristol to work on a pre-weaning mortality study of pig farms in the UK, which enabled me to visit over 100 pig farms around the country and gain an understanding of the challenges of applying research to the real world. In 2004 I decided to study for a PhD, researching tail-biting behaviour in pigs, supervised by Professor Mike Mendl and Professor Laura Green. I still find the topic fascinating and hope to have the opportunity to research it further at some point.

After finishing my PhD I worked on a BBSRC funded project studying laying hen behaviour with Professor Christine Nicol. In this study we examined the correlation between welfare indicators and performance in preference tests, which included developing some novel techniques for measuring welfare in laying hens. I am currently working on two projects, the first being a DEFRA funded study into the risk factors associated with transport of sheep over short distances with Dr Toby Knowles. This is an exciting collaboration with the VLA and Cranfield University in which we will examine not just the welfare implications but also the environmental and economic impacts of different journey types. The second project that I am currently working on, is a study of the defence cascade as an indicator of pig welfare with Professor Mike Mendl. We are collaborating with the Computing Department in order to try to develop an automated measure of welfare.