The Animal Welfare and Behaviour research theme encompasses fundamental studies of animal behaviour, cognition and emotion, strategic and applied studies of animal welfare issues, and the implementation of research findings and solutions, involving farm, companion, laboratory, zoo and working animals.
The research theme comprises around 70 people based mainly in the Bristol Veterinary School, but also includes collaborators from the University Research Centre for Behavioural Biology, based in the School of Biological Sciences and the Department of Mathematics.
Our studies of animal behaviour, cognition and emotion provide fundamental information about the mental abilities and experiences of animals managed by man, and underpin the development of new welfare assessment methods. We also investigate how environmental and genetic factors contribute to the aetiology of behaviour problems and to variations in how animals cope with welfare challenges, as well as how welfare state influences immune function and susceptibility to stress and disease. Our growing expertise in biostatistics and mathematical modelling provides new approaches to data analysis and opportunities for theoretical modelling approaches to behaviour, evolutionary and welfare-relevant questions.
Our strategic and applied research seeks to understand the causes and consequences of welfare issues in real-life situations, identifying risk factors and employing a variety of welfare indicator methods in the field (on the farm, in the lab, during transport, at the abattoir, in developing countries) to determine the extent and severity of problems. We seek to understand and treat behaviour problems in companion animals and abnormal behaviour in other species. We are also interested in the psychology of people’s attitudes to animal welfare issues and the ethical issues surrounding our interactions with animals.
We seek solutions to welfare problems and we have a significant programme of work aimed at translating and implementing research findings in the real world. Implementation can involve changing housing and husbandry practices, and often entails devising ways of altering human behaviour.
We collaborate with vets, immunologists, microbiologists, behavioural ecologists, mathematicians, computer scientists, neuroendocrinologists, psychopharmacologists, social scientists, philosophers, animal welfare scientists, primatologists and epidemiologists based in Bristol and in other universities around the world.
We receive funding from: