Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The other side of Equine Welfare: Can too much misplaced love lead to obesity and health problems?

When thinking about equine welfare issues, the usual image of neglect or poor condition is  that of the underweight and overworked horse or donkey.  However there is another side to equine health and welfare that may not be so obvious. Studies show that horses are facing disability and life-threatening illnesses in an equine obesity epidemic mirroring the expanding waistlines of humans in ­affluent nations. Are we killing them with kindness?  

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) has organised a series of equine obesity workshops after studies found that up to half the horses and ponies in Scotland are overweight.  Excessive weight can lead to a range of serious diseases that can be disabling and potentially fatal, including crippling hoof disease, hormonal dysfunction and weight-linked Type 2 diabetes. Horse owners are being warned to slim down their animals following growing evidence of an obesity epidemic that is threatening their health.

Professor Nat Waran, of the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal WelfareEducation at the University of Edinburgh’s Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies, said: “There is no doubt the majority of owners want to provide the best for their animals, but sometimes too much misplaced love can lead to welfare problems because it may not be what their horse needs.

Following these studies, two articles in the news have highlighted these issues:


Welfare and health issues of the working equine are often highlighted

But studies show that equines can face  severe health issues if they are overweight  (Photo by Sannse)

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Animal Welfare MOOC: Second Running Coming Soon!

The JMICAWE team have been humbled by the overwhelming positive feedback received about our MOOC course that we ran in July  this year.   The level of engagement was superb and we would like to thank all our hardworking students for making it such a positive and fantastic experience.

We will be running the course again in early February 2015.  If you would like to be part of this you can sign up here for future alerts:


Don't forget we will also soon have options in Mandarin and Spanish

Here are just a few out of the hundreds of positive comments and feedback we received:

Fabulous course, I learned so much and find my discussions about animals are so much more balanced, the scientific approach is a great balance for the ethical and emotional response we have with our animals. It has made me better appreciate the welfare and best practises with my animals.

This course was absolutely fantastic! I have a PhD in Psychology so have spent a lot of time within the University environment, and can honestly say that the calibre of teaching and production in this course is the best I've ever encountered.

Easy and intuitive navigation through course-info. Video's + accompanying notes (with complete text of the video), helped me to better understand the lecture (I'm not a native English speaker), the interactive presentations helped me to put newly gained insights and learning into practice. The enthusiasm displayed by almost all lecturers kept me zoomed in and focussed during the video’s. I especially enjoyed the lecturers that included your own pets/horses in the video. The video of nesting behaviour of a female pig, sometime before giving birth, had a huge impact on my view on pigs and the meat-industry.

As a result of the course, I feel I am better equipped to undertake my animal welfare work. I now have an understanding of the need for evidence-based application and acknowledging the limitation of my knowledge, for further enquiry into research by acknowledged institutions like yours. I hope that some of my colleagues will take advantage of your 2015 course and be similarly enlightened.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

MSc in Applied Animal Welfare and Animal Behaviour: A brilliant start to the new term

Our on-campus MSc programme has got off to a brilliant start this term, and we are delighted to welcome our new and returning students to the new academic year.  We now have 35 students enrolled from all corners of the world. Teaching officially started two weeks ago, following a very successful induction and welcome session.   We are now looking forward to an exciting year ahead.
'We are delighted to welcome our new students to the programme and look forward to helping them learn about Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare over the coming year. 
We’ve already had a great overnight trip to the North of Scotland to visit the Highland Wildlife Park.  It allowed us to all get to know each other a bit better, and also to learn about welfare implications of keeping animals in captivity.  The Highland Wildlife Park arranged for the students to do a Welfare Assessment of certain enclosures and to discuss their recommendations with the keepers – really great experience!

The students have already started their Zoo Research Project at Edinburgh Zoo.  They are working in groups and learning about carrying out behavioural observations of, for example, Gelada Baboons, Gentoo Penguins, Otters and Darwin’s Rhea.'                       Dr Susan Jarvis, Programme Director

The MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare is an on-campus, research-based programme run in collaboration with SRUC. Teaching is mainly based at the Easter Bush campus, a state-of-the-art facility.

For more information about the programme please go to this link:






Monday, 29 September 2014

Take part in Sentience Mosaic online discussion with JMICAWE team members, 6th October


Considering animal sentience in developing countries: Where are we?

Join us on the 6th October 2014 at 11am (UK time)

Heather Bacon, Veterinary Welfare Education and Outreach Manager and Hayley Walters, Anaesthesia and Welfare Veterinary Nurse, The University of Edinburgh will share their views on animal welfare in developing countries. They will also discuss their work with the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education (JMICAWE). 
For further information  and to sign up please go to this link:
Animal welfare and animal welfare education varies considerably across the globe. In many instances animal welfare and the importance of animal sentience is rarely included in veterinary education. Quite often animals are used inhumanely during veterinary training, and as a result experience pain and compromised welfare. Furthermore, the needs and welfare of animals are sometimes lost in communities that experience high levels of poverty. Amongst such communities, what is currently being done to make animal welfare and the consideration of animal sentience a priority? And what needs to be done in the future? 










Wednesday, 24 September 2014

MSc International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law: An exciting start to the academic year

We are delighted that we have 38 new students from 13 different countries (spread across all 6 habitable continents) who have enrolled on our MSc IAWEL this year. This brings us to over 100 students currently studying with IAWEL.

We officially started on 15th Sept following a very successful induction week for new starters with 5 live sessions for the new students to start to interact with staff and their fellow students.  This week we have lectures and discussions in our core course of International Animal Welfare Science. Students in their second year with us will be starting an elective course, either in Clinical Animal Behaviour or Animals in Research, Testing and Education, and students in their third you are planning and starting their dissertations. It is a very exciting time.
One of our new students writes:
'For me the excitement has been building for months after I first heard about the MSc program from friends here in the US and then reached out to Dr. Langford to see if this was something that I could handle.  As excited as I was, I had some reservations, least of which I've not had any formal education since 1977. All that said, I can't wait to get started because for me, if you're green (learning), you're growing, and I'm a life long learner.  I know that I'll take away valuable information from the University which I'll use in my job as an animal health and welfare officer,  but what I'm really looking forward to is the interaction with each of you as I believe that is where the real learning comes from.
I've got some great stories to share about my job, my travels and the interactions I have with some people around the world that are making a difference when it comes to animal health and welfare, one day at a time, and I hope that you'll feel comfortable sharing your stories and experiences too.  Good luck to us all!'   Bruce Feinberg, Chicago Illinois

The programme is run by the University of Edinburgh, through JMICAWE in partnership with Scotland's Rural College (SRUC). It is aimed at both UK and international graduate students, who study flexible part-time hours, to achieve a Certificate, Diploma or Masters degree. It is the first and only online programme in International Animal Welfare, Ethics & Law.
'We continue to be impressed by the number and calibre of students applying to International Animal Welfare Ethics and Law from all over the world. The breadth of experience and knowledge our students bring into the programme, make them one another’s key resource to facilitate learning, alongside high quality teaching from the University of Edinburgh, SRUC and our guest experts from around the world of course!' Dr Fritha Langford,  Programme Director  

First live lecture of year for IAWEL students in our virtual classroom (names of students listed on left removed for privacy)






Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Equitation Science and Welfare in Press Release by ISES

You may remember that in August three members of the Royal (Dick) Vet School including JMICAWE Director Prof Nat Waran, Bryony Waggett (Equine Science teaching Fellow) and Gemma Pearson (Senior Clinical Training Scholar in Equine Practice), travelled to Denmark to deliver papers and Chair at the 10th  International Society for Equitation Science annual Conference.

Their presentation 'Embedding Equitation Science into Teaching and Practice of Equestrian Professionals' is now available on the ISES website press releases page.  Go to this link to read all about it:
Embedding Equitation Science into teaching and practice of equestrian professionals

You can read their other Press releases here too:

Details about the 10th  International Society for Equitation Science annual Conference can be seen here:

The International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) is a not-for-profit learned society that aims to facilitate research into the training of horses to enhance horse welfare and improve the horse-rider relationship. The ISES mission is to promote and encourage the application of objective research and advanced practice, which will ultimately improve the welfare of horses in their associations with humans.

ISES runs international conferences that serve as platforms where latest research findings and their application in practice can be communicated and discussed. ISES also provides a pool of expertise for international bodies and academic institutions that approach ISES with questions related to horse behaviour, training and welfare.


Monday, 15 September 2014

Equine Model Reproductive Tract Arrives

JMICAWE is delighted that a further resource has now arrived for the R(D)SVS  equine simulator.  The reproductive tract will allow students to palpate a normal reproductive tract and ovaries at different stages of the reproductive cycle gaining valuable clinical skills.


The tract includes a palpable soft uterus with cervix, urethra and broad ligaments.  There are also 3 sets of easily interchangeable ovaries.

Already an outstanding success since it arrived over a year ago, the simulator allows students to practice important clinical skills. The equine simulator, developed by Veterinary Simulator Industries in collaboration with the University of Calgary, Canada, is a life-like equine model, complete with internal organs and allows for a variety of simulated scenarios including a variety of colic presentations and an abdominocentesis simulation.

Please also see this link to an earlier news story relating to the horse model:

Friday, 12 September 2014

Working with the Indian Veterinary Profession for improved animal health and welfare


International concern for animal health and welfare continues to grow with increasing demand for measures to protect animals and improve animal quality of life.  

The University of Edinburgh has a longstanding interest in animal health and welfare education. Integrated within the R(D)SVS the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education (JMICAWE), is a venture with ambitious objectives committed to improving the health and welfare of animals through education, training and research and by influencing policy at the highest level. The JMICAWE not only promotes the need for education in animal welfare science and ethics but also emphasizes the important role future veterinarians have in promoting subjects of international concern such as animal welfare along with the job of protecting animal and public health.

India is already the highest milk producing country and with increasing demands for meat, eggs and milk, Indian farming enterprises are rapidly becoming larger and animals more intensively managed, often associated with challenging consequences for animal health and welfare and indirectly increased risks for food safety and, ultimately human health. Understanding the issues and finding new ways of enhancing animal health and welfare is clearly a complex and important area for the veterinary community in India. The most defining characteristic of any profession must be their ability to constantly improve, and most importantly to be able to disseminate new knowledge gained through high quality research.

 Recent projects, initiatives and collaborations with academic partners in India have involved the development and delivery of a number of successful workshops with the support of collaborating Indian Universities, Governmental bodies and Wildlife institutes such as the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Science University, the Karnataka veterinary, animal science and fisheries University, the National Wildlife Institute in Bangalore, and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, as well as influential professional organisations, such as the Veterinary Council of India and the Commonwealth Veterinary Association. The aim of these collaborative workshops and meetings has been to aid in the development of innovative methods for delivery of a future focused veterinary curriculum at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

In November a team from JMICAWE will be going out to Kerala in India to develop further our partnership there with a series of collaborative workshops with themes focusing on Production Animal Health, Animal Welfare, Companion Animal Nursing and Welfare and Wildlife.  

‘The links between animal health, animal welfare and human welfare are becoming increasingly recognised, alongside an awareness of the importance of educating our veterinarians so that they are well equipped to take a leadership role in tackling globally important issues such as the overuse of anti-microbials, animal welfare concerns and understand the concept of ‘One Health’.”  ~ Professor Natalie Waran, Jeanne Marchig Professor of Animal Welfare, University of Edinburgh.

For more information about our academic programmes see:

For further information about the JMICAWE, please visit:




Monday, 8 September 2014

International Conference on Dog Population Management - sign up here!

A Conference...

The 2nd International Conference on Dog Population Management is to be held 3rd-5th March 2015 in Istanbul.

It is being organised by the International Companion Animal Management Coalition (ICAM) and follows the 1st conference that took place in York in 2012 that was organised by fera (the food and environment research agency).

Please visit the conference website for more information and to sign up:

The deadline for submitting an abstract for this conference is November 15th 2014.

...And a Project

JMICAWE is delighted to be one of the collaborating partners working with ICAM on the Indicators Project and  it is hoped that the conference will see the launch of the Indicators Project guidance document.  
Almost every country invests in dog population management in some form; however there is no agreed measure to establish whether an intervention is ‘working’.  The ICAM Indicators project aims to develop guidance on monitoring and evaluation of DPM that supports academics, practitioners and funders to track progress, learn and subsequently improve their DPM impact through the use of measurable indicators.

The Indicators project benefits from the engagement of Collaborating Partners that provide scientific rigour and multi-disciplinary expertise to help build the foundation for this novel and vital research field. Partners were invited to collaborate because they bring academic and practical leadership in several topics essential to success of the project.

You can read more about the project on their website:

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Access online learning courses through Animal Mosaic supported by JMICAWE

JMICAWE is thrilled to be  cooperating with World Animal Protection (WAP) to support the delivery of a Continuing Education Post-Graduate Online course for helping with capacity building veterinarians in Asia with respect to animal welfare science.
This year, World Animal Protection is hosting an online course focused on the understanding of the basic concepts behind animal welfare science, ethics and law, and how these concepts are relevant to veterinarians in Asia. The course also looks at how to assess animal welfare and involves a hands on workshop. 
And the good news – this course will now start in November 2014 and with a reduced fee of USD 500.

Find out more about this exciting new course and how to sign up by visiting

The course is hosted in partnership with the following:
Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education, the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, the University of Edinburgh
The Federation of Asian Veterinary Associations
The Center for Veterinary Continuing Education, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Chulalongkorn University
The College of Veterinary Medicine, University of the Philippines Los Banos


Wednesday, 3 September 2014

JMICAWE Veterinary Nurse keynote speaker at Scottish BSAVA Congress 2014

Hayley Walters, welfare and anaesthesia veterinary nurse for the JMICAWE team was one of only three keynote speakers at Scottish BSAVA Congress this year and the only veterinary nurse to present.

She presented three lectures on the Saturday morning to over 40 nurses on Welfare and Ethics, Best Practice for the Hospitalised Inpatient and an interactive session on case studies presenting interesting welfare and ethical dilemmas. Her lectures were well received and one of the BSAVA members of staff who initially voted for welfare to be covered at this year’s congress said Hayley had got it “spot on” after hearing all three of her presentations.

“I was so honoured to be asked to speak at Scottish BSAVA Congress this year and I think it reflects a change in attitude within the veterinary community of just how important good welfare is in practice. Good health is no longer seen as a stand-alone indicator of good welfare. I was pleased to see that the veterinary nurses attending the lectures were well informed when it came to delivering gold standard patient care and recognising areas where welfare could be improved within their own practices” (Hayley Walters)

Hayley also spoke about her experiences when working and teaching overseas in Asia and Eastern Europe and the challenges that nurses can face there:
“It opened up a really interesting discussion about how culture and religion can affect people’s views on animals, veterinary treatment and the practice of euthanasia and I was pleased to chat to some nurses afterwards about volunteering for overseas NGOs”

Hayley has now been asked to lecture to student veterinary nurses at SRUC’s (Scotland’s Rural College) Barony campus later this year.
Hayley speaking at the Congress, August 2014

Information about the BSAVA and the Scottish Congress can be found on their web site

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Read about our exciting work with IFAW

JMICAWE has been collaborating closely with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in developing a Continuing Professional Development Course (CPD) specifically designed for their staff all around the world. IFAW are very excited about the course, which the JMICAWE team have been helping to develop since January and will be rolled out over the next few months.

Almost ready to launch the ‘IFAW Animal Welfare Science, Conservation and Ethics’ course is one of two CPD courses particularly tailored to meet IFAW objectives.  A key aim of the CPD programme is to enable IFAW staff to access information showing how an evidence based approach to discussing issues related to welfare and conservation can be used to develop effective, credible policy, practice and advocacy.

Cindy Milburn, Director of Animal Welfare Outreach and Education at IFAW says:

 'IFAW is very pleased to be partnering with the JMICAWE team at Edinburgh University in the development of a range of professional development materials in Animal Welfare Science, Conservation and Ethics for our workforce. It is important to IFAW that our staff keep abreast of developments within the rapidly expanding field of Animal Welfare Science and that they understand the nexus between animal welfare and conservation.
At IFAW, we work hard to ensure our materials are evidence based and the Edinburgh University JMICAWE team has helped to create a Professional Development Animal Welfare Programme that will assist our staff in understanding different approaches and attitudes to animal welfare and the need to base information on scientific assessments within an ethical decision making framework.

The Edinburgh team were able to bring their rigorous science-based methodologies to the training programme and at the same time creating materials that will have a very practical application in helping with IFAW’s animal welfare and conservation work.'

To consolidate the collaboration we have with the IFAW, JMICAWE Director Prof Nat Waran was delighted to accept an offer to become a UK Trustee of the organisation.

'We have enjoyed a closer collaboration with IFAW over the last 3 years in relation to animal welfare science. I was honoured to accept the recent offer to become a Trustee of the organisation and I am looking forward to furthering our work together'
 Prof Nat Waran, Director JMICAWE 

About IFAW
Founded in 1969 to end the commercial seal hunt, IFAW now rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Working with the JMICAWE team: reflections of a visiting academic

Those of you may remember from earlier blogs, our associate academic Mark Farnworth came to spend couple of months with us, all the way from New Zealand.  The time has flown, but here are a few thoughts and reflections from Mark about his work with us over the summer:

It has been a whistle stop eight weeks here at JMICAWE which has seen me get involved with the innovative, and beautifully crafted, MOOC to over 33,000 students. I have also been involved with a range of initiatives and future projects that focus on education in developing nations to improve animal welfare outcomes.
In my spare time I have visited Newcastle University, The Royal Veterinary College and Aberdeen University as well as SRUC. The reception I received, and the support for my ideas, has been amazing and I very much look forward to pursuing these ideas (and of course funding) in the future.
JMICAWE boasts an exceptional and passionate staff and was able to facilitate a rapid expansion in my horizons. I'm hoping my connection with them as an associate will continue for many years. Of course it wasn't all hard graft, from swimming and canoeing in the river to enjoying the evenings at the Edinburgh Festival my time here has been a joy. Thanks to Nat and the team.
-Mark Farnworth, 2014

The team here in Edinburgh will certainly be staying in touch and continuing our connections and work together.  You can read more about Mark's work and research here:

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

ON TONIGHT! JMICAWE Student in LSPCA Malawi TV spot

Focus on welfare in Malawi! The Dog Rescuers, on Chanel 5 tonight night sees Inspector Anthony Joynes visit RSPCA International’s long term partner organisation, LSPCA (Lilongwe Society for the Protection and Care of Animals) in Malawi. It was an action packed week and the programme is being broadcast as part of the Dog Rescuers series. Please watch.

Our particular interest in this episode is that one of our very own JMICAWE students who is studying our online MSc in International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law, is the Vet and Programmes Manager at LSPCA.

Dr Richard Ssuna is responsible for the veterinary care of all LSPCA's rescued animals and also runs the weekly community veterinary clinic He oversees LSPCA's education work in schools, the chicken care programme in the community and works with the police and government to improve animal welfare across Lilongwe.

If you would like to read more about or support LSPCA’s work, please go to their website on:


Dr Richard Ssuna (Image from