20062021

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Personal profile

Research interests

I'm an animal welfare and behaviour scientist, specialising in pigs with projects covering challenges throughout the pig’s life cycle from optimising piglet survival in high welfare farrowing systems to investigating humane stunning at slaughter.

My research interests include; 

  • neonatal survival;
  • developing alternative farrowing and lactation systems for sows and litters;
  • implementing uptake of high welfare systems and practices;
    mitigating the health and welfare impacts of selection for production traits such as hyper-prolificacy;
  • using technology to allow early detection of animal health and welfare problems;
  • optimising performance of high welfare systems using genetic selection strategies and;
  • understanding the short- and long-term health and welfare benefits of positive early-life experiences and understanding negative affective states in sows (e.g. hunger and exhaustion) and their impact on mother and offspring (pre- and post-natal).

Engagement with different stakeholders in order to translate science into practice and support welfare changes at the farm level is a priority of my work. 

Projects

Current:

  • AHDB Pork - Rapid Impact Assessment on Farrowing Systems (2021 - PI).
  • SFC grant UIF: ‘Nudging for behavioural change: optimising delivery and impact on high welfare practice on farm’ (October 2020-October 2021 PI)
    BBSRC-LINK - Investigating automatic detection of emotion in biometrically identified pig faces using machine learning (Awarded June 2018 Co-PI)
  • Defra MH0154 – Development of an alternative method to high concentration CO2 for the commercial stunning of pigs (January 2018-May 2020 Co-I)
  • Innovate UK grant: TailTech: Developing an early warning system for pig tail biting (April 2018 – March 2021 Co-I).
  • RESAS 2016-2021 RD 2.2.8 'Improved husbandry and reduction of painful procedures'.

Previous

  • AgriTech Catalyst award: Early detection of tail biting in pigs using 3D video to measure tail posture. (October 2016-April 2018 Co-I).
  • NERC SARIC grant: Low-cost fibre optic matting for direct live-mapping of livestock weight to improve feed efficiency (October 2016-April 2018 Co-I)
  • SFT REG funding: Thriving is more than surviving: development of strategies to optimise behavioural and physical development. (April 2016-April 2017 PI).
  • Sainsbury’s R&D grant: Selecting the right sow for free-farrowing systems (FREESOW) (University of Newcastle/SRUC) (April 2013-April 2016 Co-PI).
  • SFC KTE grant: Free farrowing: website development, generating impact, identifying uptake, gathering evidence (August 2014-August 2016 PI).
  • Defra AW0143 “Re-designing the farrowing environment from first principles to optimise animal welfare and economic performance (Phase II)” (April 2012 – April 2015 PI)
  • EU “Animal Welfare Indicators (AWIN) - Development, integration and dissemination of animal-based welfare indicators, including pain, in commercially important husbandry species, with special emphasis on small ruminants, equidae & turkeys (WP3) (April 2011 – April 2015)
  • Danish Pig Research Centre “Working together to advance pig welfare through applied science” (September 2010 – May 2012).
  • Defra AW0143 “Re-designing the farrowing environment from first principles to optimise animal welfare and economic performance” (April 2008 – April 2012)

Supervision

  • PhD student (2019-2024) ‘Practical diets to improve dry sow welfare: improving satiety and reducing gastric ulcers’ with Edinburgh University
  • PhD student (2020-2024) 'Development and validation of animal-based welfare indicators for a Precision-Livestock Farming approach to improving the welfare of small ruminants '
  • PhD student (2014-2018) 'OPTIPIG: Increasing sow output by pre-weaning interventions to help weak pigs survive.'

Other work

  • ISAE Treasurer (2017-)
  • Review Editor for Frontiers in Veterinary Science (2020-)
  • Member of RSPCA’s Pig Technical and Scientific Advisory Group (2015-)
  • Member of EU Sub-Platform for Pig Welfare (ISAE representative) (2018-2020)
  • Creator of www.freefarrowing.org
  • Senior tutor for the EU’s Better Training for Safer Food (Pig Production) (2015-16).  
  • Lecturer, Post-graduate supervisor, PhD examiner
  • Winner of UFAW Young Animal Welfare Scientist of the year 2011.
  • Industry KTE: press articles (+12), producer group presentations (x45), Workshop/conference organisation and proceedings editor 
    Contributor to reports for EFSA, expert panel member on specific topics for the NPB (National Pork Board, USA). RSPCA Australia Approved Farming Scheme Stakeholder (2017-) and Expert adviser for EU-PiG Innovation Group (2017-).

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