Enhancing collaboration in the UK animal welfare research community

Mendl, Michael, Bennett, Richard, Collins, Lisa , Davies, Anna, Flecknell, Paul, Green, Laura, Hurst, Jane, Lawrence, Alistair, Statham, Poppy and Turnbull, James (2016) Enhancing collaboration in the UK animal welfare research community. The Veterinary Record, 178 (6). pp. 138-139. ISSN 0042-4900

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THE UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has funded a new Animal Welfare Research Network (AWRN) to bring together animal welfare researchers, those working in related fields and other professionals with an interest in animal welfare, including representatives from industry, charities and government. The core aims of the AWRN are to foster enhanced collaboration within the UK animal welfare research community and other relevant disciplines to: facilitate mentoring and training for early career researchers; seek new ways of supporting welfare researchers at all career stages; encourage interaction between researchers and stakeholders to identify gaps and opportunities for joint-working; and promote the impact of research outcomes. Over £100,000 has been provided by BBSRC to fund the AWRN for three years in the first instance, and it will be managed by a coordinating group of animal welfare researchers led by Professor Michael Mendl from Bristol university.

Animal welfare is of high societal importance. In an EU survey, 34 per cent of approximately 29,000 citizens rated the protection of welfare in farmed animals as being of the highest importance. Within the UK this proportion was 38 per cent (EU 2007). Britain has a strong tradition of animal welfare research that dates back to the Brambell Committee's (1965) parliamentary report on the welfare of livestock kept under intensive conditions. This, in turn, was prompted by Ruth Harrison's (1964) book Animal Machines, an investigation into the rise of modern intensive farming methods.

Animal welfare research is, therefore, a relatively new discipline. It uses fundamental underpinning science in studies that aim, for example, to create new and more accurate ways to scientifically assess welfare or to increase our understanding of the biological responses of animals to challenges. At the same time, strategic science studies that focus on applying findings and developing ways of implementing change and improving welfare in the real world (eg, on farm) are also an important part of the discipline. Animal welfare researchers work with a range of species including farm, laboratory, companion, zoo and even wild animals.

An important objective of the AWRN is to promote greater interaction within the animal welfare research community via meetings, workshops and exchange of researchers. This will increase cohesion, awareness of the broad scope of work that is being carried out, and amalgamation of complementary skills in basic and applied research. A related objective is to create opportunities for research students and early career researchers to meet peers and colleagues, establish their own cross-institute activities and receive training from research groups with different expertise, including research areas currently outside the welfare envelope.

Keywords:Animal welfare, NotOAChecked
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D300 Animal Science
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D328 Animal Welfare
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
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ID Code:27968
Deposited On:08 Aug 2017 13:33

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