Research and Teaching of Dairy Cattle Well Being: Finding Synergy Between Ethology and Epidemiology

Epidemiology is a tool used to identify and quantify risk factors that contribute to the state of health or disease. In addition, the maintenance of health and recognition of nonhuman animal welfare are both key principles of health management. Animal welfare and ethology provide important contributions to our ability to understand and improve health. As […]

Assessing salivary cortisol in large-scale, epidemiological research

Salivary cortisol measures are increasingly being incorporated into large-scale, population-based, or epidemiological research, in which participants are selected to be representative of particular communities or populations of interest, and sample sizes are in the order of hundreds to tens of thousands of participants. These approaches to studying salivary cortisol provide important advantages but pose a […]

Never mind the length, feel the quality: the impact of long-term epidemiological data sets on theory, application and policy

Infectious diseases have been a prime testing ground for ecological theory. However, the ecological perspective is increasingly recognized as essential in epidemiology. Long-term, spatially resolved reliable data on disease incidence and the ability to test them using mechanistic models have been critical in this cross-fertilization. Here, we review some of the key intellectual developments in […]

Using Data Collected for Production or Economic Purposes to Research Production Animal Welfare: An Epidemiological Approach

Epidemiologists use the analyses of large data sets collected for production or economic purposes to research production nonhuman animal welfare issues in the commercial setting. This approach is particularly useful if the welfare issue is rare or hard to reproduce. However, to ensure the information is accurate, it is essential to carefully validate these data. […]

Programmatic approaches to assessing and improving animal welfare in zoos and aquariums

here continues to be intense public, professional, and scientific focus on the welfare of animals in zoos and aquariums, but implementing welfare assessment tools consistently throughout this community remains challenging. Indirect measures can be used to assess “welfare potential”-the potential that animals will experience good welfare based on the care that they are provided with. […]

Welfare epidemiology as a tool to assess the welfare impact of inherited defects on the pedigree dog population

The effect that breed standards and selective breeding practices have on the welfare of pedigree dogs has recently come under scrutiny from both the general public and scientific community. Recent research has suggested that breeding for particular aesthetic traits, such as tightly curled tails, highly domed skulls and short muzzles predisposes dogs with these traits […]

Factors associated with in-transit losses of fattening pigs

In-transit losses (ITL) in fattening pigs refers to mortality occurring after having left the farm but prior to stunning at the abattoir. The purpose of this observational study was to identify the associations between environmental and truck temperatures, distances travelled, feed withdrawal, farm, transport company and abattoir and in-transit losses of fattening pigs marketed in […]

Validation of an Animal Needs Index for cattle using Test Theory

The validity of an ANI-based welfare index for cattle, the A-Index, was evaluated using Test Theory methods described for quality of life assessments in human medicine. Content validity was considered during the modification of the Index for Finnish beef production. In total, 43 items evaluating locomotion abilities, lying area, social environment, management, feeding, and health […]

Breeding for quality of life

Many breeds of companion animal have inherited disorders that may impair quality of life (QoL) to the extent that it is unkind to keep them alive. If we struggle to discern when this point is reached, why do we breed compromised, short-lived animals in the first place? If we struggle to judge when environmental conditions […]

Tail and ear biting lesions in pigs- an epidemiological study

Tail and ear biting lesions have a negative effect both on the animal welfare status of pigs (Sus scrofus) and the economical revenue of the pig farm. Tail biting behaviour is an unpredictable, abnormal behaviour that is thought to have a multifactorial origin. On-farm factors influencing tail biting have been described, but the real triggers […]