Monday, 24 November 2014

Equine farriery buddy enhancing equine welfare

October 2014 saw the first use of the 'Blacksmith Buddy' in veterinary student practical farrier classes.  This Blacksmith Buddy was developed by a Farrier to help train Farriers for preparing the hoof, shoeing and removing shoes from horses.  It was developed to give Farriers early in their training more practice without involving a live horse or cadaver leg.   Many vets in practice will come across lame horses that need shoes removed, often in an emergency.  This is a skill that many student vets don't get the opportunity to practice often in their veterinary training, but it is an important and required skill.  By using the Blacksmith Buddy not only can we teach students about correct positioning of the horses leg for removal of shoes and the techniques involved, but the Blacksmith Buddy is useful for teaching students about the correct positioning of the equine limb for applying nerve blocks .
The purchase of the Blacksmith Buddy was made possible by funding from The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education. The JMICAWE are leaders in the field of equine welfare and by providing the Blacksmith Buddy, they ensure improved welfare of horses as generations of students benefit from this important learning tool.
We’ve already had some fantastic student comments about Blacksmith Buddy:
"I thought the blacksmith buddy was very helpful to give us opportunities to take off shoes without having to put horses through this themselves."

"Just wanted to say I found that practical class and especially the blacksmith buddy very useful, especially as a non-horsey student who is actually petrified of horses!"

"I thought the 'blacksmith buddy' used in the farriery practical was really good - it enhanced the demonstration by the farrier on the live horse really well, gave good practice at a useful skill we will need when we graduate,  and was also fun! "

"I really enjoyed the farriery practical and getting a chance to remove a shoe from the blacksmith buddy. I defiantly think it's a great practical to include in the curriculum."

Students can practice valuable skills using the buddy

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Improving veterinary management of Pain and Welfare in Kerala

Improving veterinary management of Pain and Welfare in Kerala

Professor Natalie Waran and her Edinburgh team will be working with veterinary colleagues from the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Science University to address the need for improved education for vets in the area of best practice management of companion animals in the veterinary clinic including superior evidence based methods for improved animal pain recognition at a special workshop taking place on November 24th.  

Over recent years we have increasingly looked to our nation’s veterinarians to ensure that the animals used for food, companionship or research are not only productive and healthy but are also managed humanely. It is becoming increasingly emphasised that international standards of animal welfare are vital not only for animal disease management, but also for sustainable productivity, food safety and public health, and there is an expectation that the veterinary profession take a leading role in promoting respect for animals in a progressive society.

Dogs and humans have been closely associated for many thousands of years with advantages for both species. However with an expanding population of free-roaming dogs especially in certain parts of the world such as India, and concerns about public health issues associated with unmanaged dog populations, there is increasing recognition of the need to control dog populations without causing unnecessary or avoidable pain or suffering. 

Interestingly, pet dog ownership has risen dramatically over recent years. In Europe where there is a long tradition of keeping a wide variety of pet animals, there are now an estimated 100 million dogs and cats kept as pets. Although cats being smaller and easier to manage in more confined homes, are being more frequently kept than dogs, but there are also rises in the keeping of small mammals such as rabbits, mice and rats. With changing lifestyles and an increased number of double income households, there has been a growth in pet ownership particularly in urban areas of India. Increasingly, pets are being looked upon as companions and members of the family rather than for utility such as  guard dogs. A recent survey concluded that there are at least 3.6 million pet dogs in the six major cities alone. Pet owners have started to take an interest in their pets wellbeing leading to an increase in demand for well -qualified small animal veterinarians equipped with the skills and knowledge to ensure the highest standards of animal health and welfare, and an increasing recognition of the importance of properly assessing and managing animal stress and pain.

There has until recently been little research into the best way to tell if an animal is in pain. This is of concern because without reliable ways to recognise and record pain in our pets, there is every chance that they may not be provided with the painkillers they need to help their recovery from illness or operations, and to ensure they do not suffer. Because animals cannot speak, they are reliant upon human carers and their veterinarians for their wellbeing. Increasingly it is becoming recognized that animals being non-verbal, express their experience of painful conditions and procedures through their behaviour, and that there are certain postures, sounds and actions that are extremely reliable when it comes to being able to tell if the animal is in pain.  In humans, pain is what the patient says it is, and we know that the patient’s subjective experience varies from individual to individual. Indeed the negative experience of being in pain doesn’t necessarily relate to the size or seriousness of the wound of illness, nor to the severity of the condition. In animals, because they have no way to speak to us, pain is what we humans say it is. In some cases this has led to concern about whether there exists a wide variation in pain assessment and therefore pain management. For example, recent research into the way that cats and dogs are managed for the same condition, suggest that our pet cats have been under-provisioned. The reasons for the difference between species are probably due to our familiarity with some animals and not with others. Detecting pain behaviour in some species is difficult due to their nature. Prey animals such as sheep and goats are less likely to express their pain in obvious behaviours because this makes them vulnerable to predation. This doesn’t mean they don’t feel painful rather that they have been shaped through evolution to show only subtle responses – often overlooked or ignored by humans. Because good pain management relies on good recognition of pain, it is essential that research to identify reliable indicators of a painful experience be carried out and the results properly disseminated and used in veterinary practice.

A recent development in the field of animal welfare science is the recognition that animals are sentient and therefore have the ability to feel things that are both negative and positive for them. As with humans, their emotional health is central to their well-being and for good welfare scientists have agreed that there should be an absence of strong negative feelings, such as pain, stress and fear, and the presence of positive feelings, like pleasure.

'this recognition of animal emotions, marks a significant change is the way science has traditionally viewed animals – and has led to raised international standards for welfare, increased demand for research addressing the needs of all animals and a need for improved education for future as well as existing veterinarians’. Prof Natalie Waran





Tuesday, 11 November 2014

What is the Value of Horses? World Horse Welfare Annual Conference Thursday 13th November

World Horse Welfare conference  focussing on What is the value of horses?

The 2014 Conference will take place on Thursday, 13 November at the Royal Geographical Society, London.  

The day promises to be a fascinating insight into the real and perceived value of horses. Various notions of the value of horses periodically hit the headlines and spark debate. Is a horse ‘just a horse’? Would the world economy collapse without them? Do governments recognise the billions that the horse sector contributes to their national economies? What price would a parent pay for a pony that changes the life of their child struggling with a disability? Is it worse to treat live horses like rubbish or send them for a price for meat? To date we have secured a varied range of influential presenters to help us explore this fundamental and emotive topic.
JMICAWE Director, Prof Nat Waran is attending by special invitation and participating in the debating panel with topics including contrasting views on the role of horse slaughter in welfare and what is really essential for good horsemanship.  The discussion will be chaired by TV commentator Philip Ghazala and on the panel with Natalie will be Richard Davison, international dressage rider and trainer; Liz Jones, Daily Mail journalist; and Peter Webbon, former chief executive of the Animal Health Trust.

There will   be live streaming of the event on YouTube at  You will also be able to catch up on the presentations and debates through our YouTube channel during the week after the Conference.

Tweet: @HorseCharity


Conference 2014 programme cover

MSc AABAW student wins Dissertation prize

JMICAWE is delighted that one of our MSc AABAW 2013-14 students, Kathryn, has been awarded the UFAW Best Dissertation prize for the Programme.

Kathryn said ‘I feel very honoured to receive the UFAW award. I feel very fortunate that I was able to participate in a ...unique research opportunity with Dr W├╝rbel's research group in Bern, Switzerland. The search for positive facial expressions in rats required dedication and while this project was often challenging, I enjoyed learning to work with the animals and explore this distinctive area of animal welfare science. I was thrilled to find results which indicated that during the positive "tickling" treatment, the rats' ears changed colour, becoming more pink, and the rats also had a more relaxed ear position. However, my findings would not have been possible without the immense support of the research group in Bern. My supervisor, Dr Luca Melotti, provided excellent guidance and advice throughout the project. The AABAW Masters program, and my time in Switzerland working with laboratory rats, have both been incredible experiences. I am very glad to have had this opportunity to learn and grow as a scientist.

Many Congratulations to Kathryn, and thank you to UFAW ( for their support of the MSc programme.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

JMICAWE team strengthens links with Veterinary schools in Asia

This week sees Heather Bacon and Hayley Walters from the JMICAWE returning to Edinburgh after a successful series of Veterinary welfare education events.

Heather started in Lyon, France, continuing the JMICAWE’s existing relationship with the Federation of Vets of Europe and DG Sanco to deliver regional CPD on welfare assessment for the veterinary practitioner. Then it was on to Vietnam to present a paper on captive wildlife welfare at the Association of Asian Zoo and wildlife Veterinarian’s Annual conference, held at the Animals Asia Foundation’s Vietnam bear rescue centre. Heather was also able to visit the Hanoi National University of Agriculture to advise on development of their animal welfare curriculum and deliver a presentation on international veterinary education to a number of lecturers at the university. The HNUA has a strong existing research team focussing on animal welfare projects and is committed to leading the development of animal welfare science within Vietnam. HNAU will be collaborating with JMICAWE to translate welfare education materials into Vietnamese.

Hayley then joined Heather in Nanjing, China to meet with senior clinical staff from the small animal hospital at Nanjing Agricultural University and to discuss proposed collaborative activities, including student exchanges, and integration of pain management and hospital care skills into the curriculum at NJAU. These proposed activities were also supported by the Dean of Nanjing Agricultural University. Heather and Hayley also delivered interactive seminars on animal behaviour, animal welfare and humane education to approximately 150 students at NJAU.

From Nanjing it was on to Qingdao in Nanjing to present at the 5th National China Veterinary conference. The University of Edinburgh signed an MOU with the Chinese Veterinary Medical Association in 2013 and has since been cooperating with them to raise awareness of an evidence-based approach to welfare science, humane education, and integration of animal welfare into the curriculum. This year, experts from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and the Humane Slaughter Association were able to present at the CVC conference on a range of animal welfare issues thanks to sponsorship by Animals Asia. The CVMA also launched their first national Animal welfare textbook, sponsored by World Animal Protection (see Blog:

In addition Heather met with members of the Zoetis International Veterinary Collaboration for China at the International Symposium on Veterinary Education. Presentations were delivered by Deans of key Universities in China, the UK and the USA on international cooperation to support veterinary education.

Commenting on the trip, Heather said ‘It’s been a long trip but very worthwhile – it is incredibly encouraging to see the strength of international partnerships between Western veterinary schools and Asian veterinary schools. The rate of development of animal welfare in the Asian Veterinary Profession is very fast and international collaboration is supporting the development of skilled veterinarians and good animal welfare standards.’
Group Photo from the 5th CVC

Heather demonstrating suturing  using suture pads as an alternative to  live animals, at a workshop in Nanjing

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

New Dick Vet Animal Behaviour Society

The JMICAWE team  have been very interested to hear about  a new society  recently launched at the R(D)SVS and look forward to hearing more about their activities

The Dick Vet Animal Behaviour Society is a newly formed society at the Dick Vet. Animal behaviour is an important aspect of veterinary medicine, contributing to animal health, welfare, and the human-animal bond. Good application of animal behaviour can have significant impact on the lives of animals, however, it can often be an overlooked or neglected aspect of animal care.

The ultimate goal for DVABS is to increase awareness and knowledge of animal behaviour. The society is planning to host talks and practical sessions on various topics of animal behaviour, from companion animals to zoo animals and everything in between, as well as distributing information about modern behaviour knowledge and research. The society hopes to increase interest in animal behaviour and promote behaviour as an integral part of veterinary medicine.
  They are also preparing a website with useful links and resources on animal behaviour, and a regular newsletter.
For more information about the society, how to join, and upcoming announcements, please go to their facebook page: