Program 2 - Housing and husbandry effects on animal welfare

Confinement of animals, even for short periods that may occur during transport and lairage of farm animals, is a controversial issue. The main welfare concerns raised are inappropriate social contact, the inability to exercise and the restricted choice of stimuli for interaction, such as with conspecifics and other features of the physical environment.
The key focus of this program is to further understand the basic welfare requirements of animals in terms of social, spatial, environmental complexity and climatic requirements. Such knowledge is necessary for designing housing systems, even for short periods as may occur during transport and lairage.
 
Human enrichment program for breeding sows: proof of concept

Lead Investigator:                  P. Hemsworth, Uni Melb

Student:                                  

Funding:                                Pork CRC

Commencement date:           2017

Completion date:                   2018

This experiment is a proof of concept to examine whether or not regular positive human contact is enriching for pigs (i.e., leads to a positive affective state) and facilitates stress resilience. 

Resilient plants for free range

Lead Investigator:                  C. DeKoning, SARDI

Student:                                  

Funding:                                Australian Eggs

Commencement date:           2017

Completion date:                   2020

Identify plants and range management strategies to improve range area. 

The welfare of bobby calves in the meat supply chain 

Lead Investigator:                  A. Fisher, Uni Melb

Student:                                  

Funding:                                Strategic Partnership for Animal Welfare Research, Development and Adoption

Commencement date:           2017

Completion date:                   2020

The goal of this  project is to measure the health and welfare status of bobby calves within the supply chain, and to identify variations in calf hydration, glucose levels, and colostral immunity in relation to breed, bodyweight, time off feed and transport distance. The project will then include research on-farm (and onwards in the supply chain) to validate the optimal calf preparation strategies indicated by the initial research. This will provide objective data on industry performance, as well as forming the basis of updated advice to farmers on areas of calf preparation on which to focus for ensuring optimal calf welfare. Together, these outcomes can contribute to a greater resilience of the industry in response to current concerns around calf welfare. 

Can oxytocin nasal spray improve gilt behaviour during the peri-partum period and increase the weaning weight of piglets?

Lead Investigator:                  C. Ralph, SARDI

Student:                                  

Funding:                                Pork CRC

Commencement date:           2016

Completion date:                   2018

Stress during farrowing causes the production of opioids, which inhibit oxytocin release. This study will assess the effectiveness of nasal administration of oxytocin on improving maternal behaviour. 

Methods of field euthanasia for livestock that preserve brain material

Lead Investigator:                  K. Stanger, Uni Melb

Student:                                  

Funding:                               Strategic Partnership for Animal Welfare Research, Development and Adoption

Commencement date:           2017

Completion date:                   2018

To identify a more suitable agent for the euthanasia of livestock for TSE surveillance in Australia, To compare the efficacy and animal welfare responses of sheep euthanased with either an injectable barbiturate (gold standard) and saturated salt solution (KCl and MgSO4), To generate objective, scientific data to support the use of the most appropriate method of euthanasia that facilitates the collection of intact brain samples for TSE surveillance. 

Human-animal relationships in zoos: Optimising animal and visitor experiences

Lead Investigator:                  P. Hemsworth, Uni Melb

Student:                                  

Funding:                                Australian Research Council

Commencement date:           2014

Completion date:                   2018

Extensive research on human-animal relationships in agricultural and domestic settings shows that human-animal interaction affects animal behaviour and welfare, which in turn affect human attitudes to animals. As conservation and welfare organisations, zoos aim to provide visitors with opportunities to closely interact with animals to improve visitor experience and conservation outcomes, whilst maintaining good animal welfare. Some visitor interactions may be stressful for some animals creating conflict between animal welfare and visitor experience. By determining visitor effects, this project aims to provide zoos with practical animal management and educational strategies to optimise both animal welfare and visitor experience.

 

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