Thursday, 9 November 2017

Jess Davies at ICAWC, Cyprus

Our Vet Nurse Jess Davies  represented JMICAWE at the 19th ICAWC in Nicosia, Cyprus last month.

This year there were 232 delegates, from 105 organisations in 37 countries with speakers talking from many different perspectives in relation to animal welfare issues, from NGOs, charities from both the UK and overseas and also from the academic field.

It proved to be a really positive conference showcasing so many dedicated individuals and groups from all over the world in the pursuit of improving animal welfare in their area.

Poultry Award for JMICAWE colleague

Poultry Award for welfare expert

Welfare expert and JMICAWE colleague Jessica Martin has been named Young Poultry Person of the Year at the Egg and Poultry Industry Conference.
Jessica Martin
Welfare expert Jessica Martin has been named Young Poultry Person of the Year at the Egg and Poultry Industry Conference.
Jessica received the award for her work at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, which is focused on improving bird welfare during poultry production.
Her current research evaluates the welfare impacts of both slaughter and on-farm killing techniques for poultry. She has also carried out studies on bird behaviour and the merits of multi-sensor platforms for remote monitoring of poultry flocks, such as thermal imaging and technologies to monitor vocalisations.
The EPIC Young Poultry Person of the Year Award was set up in memory of renowned egg processor Clive Frampton, former owner of Frampton’s egg processing business, who passed away in 2012. The award is made annually to recognise the efforts of up and coming stars in the poultry industry.  Many congratulations from the team, Jess!
I am truly honoured to receive this award from the UK poultry Industry and so grateful for their on-going support over the years. It demonstrates the strengthening relationship between industry and the scientific community to produce high quality data and results, with high impact.

Friday, 3 November 2017

World Conference on Farm Animal Welfare, HangZhao, China

World Conference on Farm Animal Welfare, Hangzhou, China

JMICAWE Director Cathy Dwyer and SRUC colleagues Emma Baxter and Irene Camerlink were guests at a Conference on farm animal welfare organised as the 5th China Animal Welfare Forum on Quality and Safety of Meat and Poultry Products by the International Cooperation Committee on Animal Welfare (ICCAW) in Hangzhou. The meeting was attended by about 40 overseas guests, and 350 Chinese delegates from industry, academia and NGOs, and was a good signal that China is now starting to consider animal welfare as very important in food animals. 

Cathy gave an interview to the Chinese TV media before the conference began, particularly addressing concerns that animal welfare is synonymous with an increase in costs of production, and also took part in a panel discussion with both Chinese and overseas experts.

On the second day of the conference there were species-focused sessions and Emma gave a talk on neonatal mortality in a session organised by the RSPCA.

It was interesting to see how animal welfare is viewed in China with a lot of interest in standards and legislation and fewer talks on animal behaviour or animal based measures as might be the case in European meetings. This is planned to be an annual event, so we look forward to seeing how the status of animal welfare in China develops over the next few years.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

JMICAWE at Chinese Agricultural University, Beijing

JMICAWE teaching at CAU

Cathy Dwyer and Jess Davies were recently at the Chinese Agricultural University in Beijing to visit the veterinary school teaching hospital for small animals and agriculture school. Jess gave her first overseas lecture to the students and faculty, which prompted a great discussion around euthanasia in different contexts and cultural differences between China and UK. The Chinese faculty were very interested to hear about the ways some veterinary practices are able to have a dedicated room for clients for euthanasia and are thinking about providing something similar themselves.

We also met with faculty members currently doing research in farm animal welfare, and Cathy gave a lecture on animal welfare issues, which also resulted in an interesting discussion around different issues in China and UK. It was fascinating to tour the vet school at CAU and see the differences and similarities in how care is provided to patients in comparison to the UK. In particular the use of Chinese Traditional Medicine in veterinary practice, alongside conventional medicine was really interesting. We were impressed with the interest and enthusiasm for animal welfare and ethical decision-making shown especially by the students and younger faculty members.

 Traditional Chinese medicine 
 Jess with Sun (their translator) at CAU
Jess's first overseas lecture for JMICAWE!

Monday, 16 October 2017

JMICAWE contributes to WSAVA Animal Welfare guidelines

JMICAWE contributes to WSAVA Animal Welfare guidelines

JMICAWE vet Heather Bacon recently travelled to Bangkok to input into the development of the first World Small Animal Veterinary Association Animal Welfare Guidelines. The WSAVA is the global organisation for small animal vets and these guidelines will offer veterinary practitioners around the world guidance on dealing with common animal welfare issues and highlight the role and responsibilities of vets as advocates for good animal welfare.

“Vets have not always fully engaged with their role of protecting and enhancing animal welfare,” said Heather “Even in the UK and other developed countries this is still a challenge, and for low income nations, the challenges are magnified. The WSAVA guidelines will provide support for veterinary practitioners around the world to engage with animal welfare issues.”

The animal welfare guidelines will be launched at the WSAVA annual conference in 2018.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Celebrating Success in Animal Welfare on World Animal Day

Celebrating Success in Animal Welfare

JMICAWE co-sponsored, with SRUC, a day of talks, discussion and demonstrations of animal welfare research to mark World Animal Day on 4th October. The theme for the event was ‘Celebrating Success in Animal Welfare Science’, focusing on the achievements in improving animal welfare that have been realised over the last 50 years or so of active research in the area.

Of course there is still much to be done, but it is worth pausing to reflect on the achievements and improvements in the lives of animals that has occurred through the application of 50 years of animal welfare science,’ said Professor Cathy Dwyer, Director of JMICAWE, on opening the meeting.

Talks covered a range of topics including application of research to reduce confinement in pregnant, farrowing and lactating sows, cage-free systems for laying hens, developments in positive welfare, welfare of working equids, combining animal and human welfare improvements in sub-Saharan African small ruminant production and tickling rats. During lunch time there was an opportunity to learn more about the applications of new technology to assessing animal behaviour and welfare, and to visit the clinical skills labs at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. The day was attended by over 200 students, staff and government, policy and NGO representatives. The feedback has been universally positive, with several actively anticipating the next event, and recordings of the presentations will be available via the JMICAWE website very soon. 

First UK Bear husbandry workshop a success

First UK Bear husbandry workshop a success

The Zoological Society of London recently held the first UK Bear Husbandry workshop focussed on improving understanding of zoo animal welfare and promoting good practice in modern bear husbandry and veterinary care.

JMICAWE vet Heather Bacon opened the workshop with a presentation on behaviour-based husbandry and also discussed geriatric care of bears – an incredibly long-lived species. Additional presentations were delivered by EAZA and Shape of Enrichment, all focussed on progressing understanding of zoo animal welfare and practical enrichment.

Heather said “Bears will survive even in very poor environments and in the 1980s UK zoos recognised that managing bears in these older exhibits was no longer acceptable, however with recent investments in enclosure design the UK zoo bear population is increasing and this workshop is a great opportunity for keepers from around the UK to exchange expertise about modern bear husbandry techniques.”

Heather has extensive experience with bears having worked with a range of bear species around the world over the past 10 years.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

DMZAA incorporates module on animal welfare and ethics

DMZAA incorporates module on animal welfare and ethics

The Diploma in the Management of Zoo and Aquarium Animals was established by the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria and Sparsholt College in 2012 and has become the national UK qualification for zookeepers.

Over recent years the organisers have noted an increasing interest in in animal welfare and ethical issues from student zookeepers and in 2016 reached out to the JMICAWE to develop a new module on Animal welfare and ethics for zoo keepers. Led by Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE and Douglas Richardson of the Highland Wildlife Park the new module will be compulsory study for all UK zookeepers from 2017 and forms a core part of the DMZAA teaching.

“Animal welfare has not traditionally formed part of the core training of UK zoo keepers,” said Heather “It is incredibly exciting to see BIAZA continuing to support animal welfare education across the UK zoo community."

Thursday, 31 August 2017

World Veterinary Congress, South Korea

Founder Director speaks on One Welfare and Veterinary Education

Founder JMICAWE Director and Honorary Professor, and now the Professor of One Welfare at the Eastern Institute of Technology in New Zealand, Nat Waran recently delivered an invited talk at the World Veterinary Congress in South Korea, entitled ‘ One Welfare and Veterinary Education’. 

Attended by some 4000 delegates, the Congress was opened by Mr Ban Ki Moon, former Secretary General for the UN – who confirmed the importance of ensuring the health and welfare of animals worldwide. The Global Welfare Seminar, organized by the World Veterinary Association, was an excellent opportunity to share knowledge and exchange information about the latest policy work, scientific findings and educational approaches.

Nat’s talk highlighted the reasons why animal welfare as a trans-disciplinary subject area needs to be integrated throughout the veterinary curriculum.  She also talked about the opportunities and challenges of the work of JMICAWE colleagues and partners with veterinary schools, veterinary professional groups and governments in countries where there is an urgent need to help build capacity to meet the challenges of international veterinary education guidelines. 

There is still much to be done to help ensure that future veterinary students are well equipped to become the advocates for animals that the world needs them to be – and a One Welfare approach was supported as a way forward to help support that goal. 

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Guest blog from an education research intern


Eilidh Stewart, who is hoping to begin an undergraduate degree in Anthropology this year at Aberdeen University, spent the end of July shadowing JMICAWE contributor Dr Jill MacKay. Based in the Veterinary Medical Education Division of R(D)SVS, Eilidh assisted Jill with research into education and animal welfare. Eilidh wrote a guest blog for JMICAWE about her experiences in veterinary education research:

Over the past week I have been interning in the digital education unit within the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies shadowing Dr MacKay. This has been an invaluable experience learning about the role of education research and work that goes on here.  The research undertaken by the many scientists, MSc and PhD students at R(D)SVS and Roslin Institute has been fascinating to hear about, and even more fun to assist with. I come from an arts/humanities background so the idea of working with scientists was initially daunting. However, I soon realised that my social science perspective was beneficial as I could approach theories, discussion and research from a different angle, and this helped with the social research element of some the work carried out within the Vet School. On the other hand, this week has re-ignited my interest in science. Working so closely with researchers from both the Veterinary Medical Education Division and JMICAWE improved has vastly my understanding of issues and research within animal welfare and biology - their enthusiasm for their subject has been infectious.

One of my task this week was watching recorded lectures of the Animal Biology course taught by Julie Dickson of R(D)SVS. We were using her recorded lectures to test out methods of research to analyse teaching performance, student engagement etc. within lectures. This was an informative task as it not only helped with Dr MacKay’s research into veterinary medical education but it taught me a lot about the anatomy of animals. I found the lectures fascinating.

I loved getting to hear about the various research projects carried out across the university – how we could integrate “resilience” and “empathy” training into the vet curriculum to improve mental health in students; looking at social media (e.g. yik yak) to gain feedback on university teaching and assessment and how technology such as 3D models, Virtual Reality or Recorded Lectures could be used as educational tools.

 My favourite part of this week was when we took a class for the University of Edinburgh’s “Science Insights”. This was a workshop on animal behaviour to sixteen-year olds that were interested in studying Veterinary Medicine after their secondary schooling was completed. It was fascinating to hear more about animal personalities and behaviour. Despite my help with class supervision I couldn’t help but feel like a student! The students were lovely and worked hard. We then took them out to see the horses and sheep at the vet school, and it was great to see how much enthusiasm they had not just for veterinary medicine but the research conducted on site as well. It great to be a part (albeit small) of a project that encouraged students into science, and to share my excitement for research with them.

My placement over the past week has been incredibly beneficial not just professionally but personally. I have gained a great work experience opportunity for my CV, relevant contacts for networking and a basic of understanding of animal anatomy and behaviour. It has also encouraged me to think about potentially pursuing s a future career in research/academia. I would encourage anybody else interested in research, veterinary medicine or science as a career to explore education research.

Dr Jill MacKay discussing how we can measure equine behaviour during a typical Scottish summer day!

Monday, 31 July 2017

Students from NorthWest A&F University, Yangling visit Edinburgh

Last week we were delighted to welcome Dr Wuren Ma and 12 mixed-year undergraduate vet students from the NorthWest Agriculture & Forestry University, Shaanxi Province to the Dick Vet School during their 2-week visit to the UK.

They spent a week in and around Edinburgh and spent 3 days with JMICAWE studying animal welfare.  This included very hands-on practicals in the clinical skills labs; a soggy trip to the Castlelaw sheep farm with Professor Dwyer to learn about extensive management/land use; a dog behaviour and training tutorial; and a morning at the Easter Howgate pig unit to see current research into farrowing, including a demonstration of the PigSafe method.  We even included a trip to the local pub to experience Scottish hospitality, Flotterstone Inn-style.  

They packed a lot into their visit and seemed to genuinely enjoy everything we, and the weather, could throw at them.  We wish them all the best with their continued studies and hope they took away useful information about animal production and welfare as a result of their visit.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Open Philanthropy Project in China

Exploring pig and poultry welfare in China

China accounts for half of the world's pig population (c. 36.3 million sows), and produces approximately 5 times as many pigs as the EU. China is also the largest egg producer in the world. Any improvement in animal welfare is therefore likely to have a great impact on the life of the animals.

In May two of our animal welfare researchers went to visit academics and NGOs to speak about the current welfare issues for pigs and poultry in China.

JMICAWE has recently been awarded a grant to provide animal welfare training in China and to exchange knowledge with Chinese producers. In this first visit the focus was on pig production as it tied in with the Global Pig Forum and Animal Husbandry Expo held in Qingdao, Shandong province. 

Academics and industry representatives of different regions of China were consulted on current animal welfare issues and the most effective method to reach producers. Meetings with NGOs and the Ministry of Agriculture further informed us about current animal welfare guidelines. Animal welfare guidelines for the major livestock species are currently in place or are being rolled out in the coming months. This shows that animal welfare is an increasingly important issue that is being considered by the whole industry. This was also confirmed during the presentations by leading officials and producers at the Global Pig Forum.

These newly-formed connections will contribute to a collaborative strategy to provide animal welfare training to pig and poultry producers running through until 2018.  A PhD project will run alongside the workshops to assess their effectiveness for animal welfare in practice.

The project, titled ‘Healthy animals, healthy food, healthy people’ is funded by the Open Philanthropy Project. The project is led by the JMICAWE and includes experts from JMICAWE as well as from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).


Monday, 17 July 2017

Meghan Ambrozevich Blair - a life remembered

Edinburgh Napier VN awarded posthumous First Class Honours degree

Amidst recent graduation celebrations, the JMICAWE team has been remembering the short but brilliant life of Napier Veterinary Nursing student Meghan Ambrozevich-Blair, who was recently awarded a posthumous First Class Honours degree.

Meghan’s life was full of compassion; she strove to improve the lives of all animals around her, from picking up earthworms after the rain, to gaining medals for being the best HNC and HND Animal care student at Barony College, Dumfries.

In 2015, Meghan signed up for a project with the JMICAWE team - Vet Heather Bacon and Veterinary Nurse Hayley Walters, collaborating with the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (KVASU) in India - to showcase the value of compassionate and well-trained veterinary nurses The initiative has encouraged KVASU to start their own veterinary nursing training programme, and to improve the welfare of dogs and cats within its veterinary clinics (see photos above). On returning to the UK, Meghan wrote:

“At the moment there are no recognised veterinary nurses in India and we went over there to show them the amazing work we can do! Veterinary nurses are often the veterinary surgeon's right hand, we are friends to our clients and guardian angels to our patients. Although working in India proved to be a huge emotional roller-coaster, luckily the highs were just as intense as the lows. And our hopes came true earlier this week when it was announced that Kerala University have decided they definitely would like to introduce a veterinary nursing program and want to educate and train the very first veterinary nurses in India! So here’s to the future development of Indian Veterinary nurses and the long term improvement of animal care and welfare India wide!”

Meghan, a 26 year old veterinary nursing student, was tragically killed in a car accident last December as she drove to work, the day after her final veterinary nursing examination at Edinburgh Napier University. Meghan was the beloved daughter of Kevin and Lauren, loving sister of Jared and Ethan and dearly loved fiancée of Scot.

Meghan's philosophy on life

Monday, 3 July 2017

BVA Animal Welfare Foundation funds JMICAWE research

BVA Animal Welfare Foundation funds JMICAWE research

We are delighted that the BVA Animal Welfare Foundation ( has decided to fund a grant proposed by JMICAWE to identify the animal welfare priorities for the UK.

The research will use a social science technique, a Delphi analysis, to achieve consensus amongst experts on what are the most important animal welfare issues for the UK and to identify areas that should be the focus for further research.

Up for discussion in particular will be how we balance very severe animal welfare challenges (which may affect only a very small number of animals) against less severe issues (but where thousands or even millions of animals may be affected). We will be working with our animal welfare colleagues at SRUC, and with the University of Cambridge, as well as seeking a range of expert stakeholders across different industries and managed animal species and look forward to exploring the range of animal welfare issues that may be causing concern in the UK.