• Easter Bush, Roslin Institute Building

    EH25 9RG Midlothian

    United Kingdom

19962021

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Personal profile

Research interests

As a behavioural scientist, I study behaviour as a way of measuring Animal Welfare, and to understand and solve welfare problems which involve behaviour in captive animals, particularly farmed livestock.

My research interests include:

1) Behavioural problems in pig groups: particularly

  • Social aggression (fighting and bullying), where I have long-standing collaboration with SRUC colleague Dr Simon Turner, looking for genetic and management solutions and seeking to understand how pigs assess each other during fights.
  • Tail biting. Identifying practical means to predict, detect and prevent tail biting on farm.

2) The problem of hunger in feed-restricted broiler breeders and dry (lactating) sows. These animals have high growth potential but must be rationed to be healthy adults. Can we find diets which restrict energy to ensure good health without chronic hunger?

3) The use of technology to improve management and welfare by monitoring behaviour on-farm. Developing machine-vision approaches based on video technology to automate behaviour recording. Current work involves collaborating with agri-tech and pig supply chain companies to use 3D cameras to measure tail posture in pigs to develop an early warning system for tail biting (TailTech project)

Projects

Current

  • 2021-2022 RESAS ‘Strategic research programme WP2.2’

Previous (selected)

  • 2018-2021 Innovate UK ‘TailTech: Developing an early warning system for pig’ tail biting” (£220K)
  • 2016-2021 RESAS ‘Strategic research programme RD2.2.8’ (£265K/year)
  • 2017-2021 USDA-AFRI ‘Phenomics and Genomics of Behavioral and Growth Traits in Group Housed Pigs’ ($198K)
  • 2016-2018 Innovate UK ‘3D Tails: Early detection of tail biting in pigs using 3D video to measure tail posture’ (£201K)

Supervision

  • PhD student (2019-2024) ‘Practical diets to improve dry sow welfare: improving satiety and reducing gastric ulcers’ with Edinburgh University
  • PhD student (2015-2022 part time) ‘Understanding satiety in broiler breeders during rearing and application to commercial diets’ with Edinburgh University and Aviagen
  • PhD student (2015-2019) ‘Strategies to reduce the risk of tail biting in pigs managed on slatted floors’ with Teagasc and Edinburgh University

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Oxford

15 Sep 199330 Dec 1996

Award Date: 30 Dec 1996

Master, University of Oxford

1 Sep 199030 Jun 1993

Award Date: 30 Jun 1993

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