Monday, 11 December 2017

Dr Fiona Lang joins JMICAWE team

Dr Fiona Lang joins JMICAWE team

We are delighted to welcome Dr Fiona Lang to the JMICAWE team! Fiona will be joining us for a year to lead on a project to identify the main priorities for animal welfare in the UK, funded by the Animal Welfare Foundation of the BVA. Fiona, a former PhD student at SRUC, brings with her a wealth of expertise in dairy cow and pig welfare, as well as having recently completed a set of Canadian guidelines for the welfare of buffalo. Fiona is also interested in the welfare of street dogs, and veterinary education in Central America.

This new project will involve liaising with experts in animal welfare and management across the UK to reach a consensus view on which areas of animal welfare are the most pressing concerns for future research and policy efforts.

Welcome to the team, Fiona!  

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Cows, welfare and farming in India

Cows, welfare and farming in India

Cathy Dwyer recently joined fellow Vet School colleagues, Gurpreet Grewal-Kang, GurĂ¥ Berkvist and Harish Lochun, on a trip to Delhi and the Punjab in India.

The trip focused on developing new partnerships in animal welfare and veterinary medicine as well as visiting current collaborators and promoting the new Global Academy in Agriculture and Food Security.  The team visited the Nabha foundation in the Punjab, to see the work the foundation are doing in promoting organic production methods, particularly focusing on a reduction in pesticide use even in non-organic production, and increasing food safety.

We also visited projects encouraging traditional craft methods and providing opportunities for women’s empowerment in Indian villages, as well as visiting a gowshala (cow sanctuary).

In Delhi we returned to visit colleagues at the Indira Gandhi National Open University, with whom we are currently writing a new distance learning course on animal welfare, and at the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) in Karnal, as well as visiting the University of Delhi.

Cathy says ‘It was a really inspiring trip. It was fascinating to learn more about the great projects that are helping to support women in rural communities and to look at ways that the University can help support these. It was also lovely to catch up with researchers and their students at NDRI, who are developing some really interesting research in buffalo and cattle behaviour and welfare. We are hoping to be able to work with this group more in the future to help support their work.’

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Graduation for IAWEL MSc students

Dr Fritha Langford, Programme Director, writes:-

We were delighted that so many of our online International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law graduands made it to Edinburgh for their MSc Graduation ceremony in our newly refurbished, magnificent graduation hall. We are very proud of their hard work and dedication and are looking forward to hearing the next steps in their career involved in improving animal lives. As usual, we had a huge variety of projects completed in the masters year including:

  • “An assessment of an educational intervention on the knowledge and attitudes of Indian national veterinarians to animal welfare”
  • “Exploring inter-observer reliability and feasibility in animal welfare measures at a large equine rescue facility”
  • “The ethics of bringing wild African elephants into zoos”
  • “The reporting of post-operative pain management in rodents undergoing experimental surgery”

Many of our IAWEL graduates joined us for a celebratory lunch with their families and we were able to chat about their projects, the future and delight in the fact we were all face to face with one another!  We wish them all the best for the future. 

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Jess in Bosnia with DogsTrust

Earlier this month, JMICAWE's RVN Jess was invited by charity Dogs Trust to work with their International Training Program based in the Sarajevo Veterinary Faculty, Bosnia.

Jess was paired up with Paul Eynon, a small animal surgeon and lecturer from Glasgow Veterinary School, and as the International Team they were responsible for the training of two Bosnian vets in surgical techniques (Paul) and effective anaesthesia monitoring (Jess) with the focus being on ensuring a high standard of welfare is maintained for the patient from induction all the way through to recovery.

JMICAWE’s RVN Hayley Walters originally spent time in Sarajevo with this project three years ago to assess and implement standard operating protocols to ensure a high standard of welfare for each patient is upheld during anaesthesia and recovery which are still being followed today, with great success!

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!