The Animal Welfare Scientists of the future were in the spotlight as they presented their research at an international conference held at Writtle College.
The topics covered were wide-ranging: from the sexing of chickens before they hatch, to the effect visitors have on the behaviour of macaques in zoos; from the nocturnal behaviour of orphan young Asian elephants in a Sri Lankan rehabilitation centre, to empathy in rats.
A total of 15 students - 14 of whom won this year’s Animal Welfare Student Scholarships from the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) – presented their studies at the organisation’s annual meeting.
They had travelled from universities and colleges from across the UK, as well as those in Austria, Portugal and the USA, to share their projects.
Among them was Harry Appleby, BSc (Hons) Animal Science student at Writtle College, who presented his research which evaluated oestrone sulphate as a pre-hatch indicator of sex in ISA brown poultry.
The molecule oestrone sulphate can be used as an indicator of sex in poultry before the chicks have hatched. The implications of the research, overseen by Writtle’s Dr Angela Murphy-Thomas, could be far-reaching – currently 4.2 billion male chicks of a laying breed are slaughtered at day old annually, due to being a surplus by-product of the laying industry.
Harry, 21, from Tendring, said: “Identification of sex in ovo, prior to the development of pain perception at day 10.5 of incubation could be considered an ethical alternative to slaughter after hatch. Our study highlights the significance of oestrone sulphate as a suitable marker for identifying the sex of chickens before hatch occurs. In turn, it could be suggested that, with adaption and development, this method may be a suitable alternative to the slaughter of male chicks at day old.”
Those who presented at the conference were:
• Alice Barrett (The Royal Veterinary College): ‘Effect of visitor number and noise level on the behaviour of zoo-housed Sulawesi crested macaques (Macaca nigra)’
• Daniela Haager (University of Natural Resources and Life Science): ‘Validation of hock lesions as a welfare indicator in dairy cows - A macroscopic, thermographic and histological study’
• Harry Appelby (Writtle College): ‘Evaluation of oestrone sulphate as a pre-hatch indicator of sex in ISA Warren poultry’
• Emma King (The Royal Veterinary College, UK), a HAS Dorothy Sidley Memorial Scholarship student: ‘Pathophysiology of captive bolt stunning in turkey: A study of the Turkey Euthanasia Device (TED) compared with the CASH Poultry Killer (CPK)
• Eleanor Greenway (Bangor University): ‘Investigation in food preference and welfare of captive Thornback Rays’
• Sammy Kay (University of Lincoln): ‘Development of bTB assay for complex biological samples’
• Holly Asquith-Barnes (The Royal Veterinary College): ‘Assessing the effectiveness of thermal imaging in the identification of arthritic conditions in non-human primates - A tool for improving welfare’
• Carley Betts (University of Bristol): ‘Do hens prefer signalled or unsignalled food rewards?’
• Jessica Anderson (Western University of Health Sciences): ‘Assessment of non-contact infrared thermometer measurement sites in birds’
• Alison McGann (University of Glasgow): ‘A pilot study to develop behavioural monitoring protocols for post-partum dairy heifers and neonatal calves on a commercial farm’
• Helena Stokes (The Royal Veterinary College): ‘Nocturnal behaviour in orphan juvenile Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in a rehabilitation centre in Sri Lanka’
• Hayley Reeve (University of St Andrews): ‘Do rats have empathy?’
• Florian Mayer (University of Natural Resources and Life Science): ‘Behavioural and physiological reaction of sows to temporal crating prior to or after parturition’
• Jack Wooton (University of Chester): ‘Reducing negative effects of tank surface impacts in captive male guppies (Poecilia reticulata)’
• Chantal Villeneuve (The Royal Veterinary College): ‘Do domestic chickens show inequity aversion?’