Monday, 18 December 2017

Human behaviour change for animal welfare

Human behaviour change for animal welfare

As the year draws to a close, JMICAWE vet Heather Bacon made one final overseas trip, this time to Nepal to speak at the Asia for Animals Conference, themed on Human behaviour change for animal welfare.

Presenting on the value of academic-NGO relationships in developing strategies to change human behaviour and influence animal welfare, Heather used examples from our ongoing research and outreach work to illustrate the impact that JMICAWE is having on animal welfare around the world. You can read more about the Human behaviour change for animal welfare here:

The conference is the flagship programme of the Asia for Animals Coalition — 16 of the world’s leading animal protection organisations which have a shared focus on improving the welfare of animals in Asia. Speakers and workshops discussed a wide range of topics including veterinary training in China presented by Dr Sun, from the Chinese Veterinary Medical Association, an organisation with whom the JMICAWE have partnered for several years.

“The conference is an inspiring collaboration between NGOs to highlight and champion the excellent work being done to improve animal welfare across Asia” Said Heather, “This year there was increasing academic representation from the UK as well as other countries, demonstrating the importance that academic-NGO collaboration has in supporting effective work in changing human behaviour and improving animal welfare.”

JMICAWE sponsored Naomi Clark-Shen (Singapore) & Judith Velarde (Philippines) [pictured here with Heather] to attend the AfA Conference

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, Gurå 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!

Monday, 31 July 2017

Students from NorthWest A&F University, Yangling visit Edinburgh

Last week we were delighted to welcome Dr Wuren Ma and 12 mixed-year undergraduate vet students from the NorthWest Agriculture & Forestry University, Shaanxi Province to the Dick Vet School during their 2-week visit to the UK.

They spent a week in and around Edinburgh and spent 3 days with JMICAWE studying animal welfare.  This included very hands-on practicals in the clinical skills labs; a soggy trip to the Castlelaw sheep farm with Professor Dwyer to learn about extensive management/land use; a dog behaviour and training tutorial; and a morning at the Easter Howgate pig unit to see current research into farrowing, including a demonstration of the PigSafe method.  We even included a trip to the local pub to experience Scottish hospitality, Flotterstone Inn-style.  

They packed a lot into their visit and seemed to genuinely enjoy everything we, and the weather, could throw at them.  We wish them all the best with their continued studies and hope they took away useful information about animal production and welfare as a result of their visit.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Open Philanthropy Project in China

Exploring pig and poultry welfare in China

China accounts for half of the world's pig population (c. 36.3 million sows), and produces approximately 5 times as many pigs as the EU. China is also the largest egg producer in the world. Any improvement in animal welfare is therefore likely to have a great impact on the life of the animals.

In May two of our animal welfare researchers went to visit academics and NGOs to speak about the current welfare issues for pigs and poultry in China.

JMICAWE has recently been awarded a grant to provide animal welfare training in China and to exchange knowledge with Chinese producers. In this first visit the focus was on pig production as it tied in with the Global Pig Forum and Animal Husbandry Expo held in Qingdao, Shandong province. 

Academics and industry representatives of different regions of China were consulted on current animal welfare issues and the most effective method to reach producers. Meetings with NGOs and the Ministry of Agriculture further informed us about current animal welfare guidelines. Animal welfare guidelines for the major livestock species are currently in place or are being rolled out in the coming months. This shows that animal welfare is an increasingly important issue that is being considered by the whole industry. This was also confirmed during the presentations by leading officials and producers at the Global Pig Forum.

These newly-formed connections will contribute to a collaborative strategy to provide animal welfare training to pig and poultry producers running through until 2018.  A PhD project will run alongside the workshops to assess their effectiveness for animal welfare in practice.

The project, titled ‘Healthy animals, healthy food, healthy people’ is funded by the Open Philanthropy Project. The project is led by the JMICAWE and includes experts from JMICAWE as well as from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).


Monday, 17 July 2017

Meghan Ambrozevich Blair - a life remembered

Edinburgh Napier VN awarded posthumous First Class Honours degree

Amidst recent graduation celebrations, the JMICAWE team has been remembering the short but brilliant life of Napier Veterinary Nursing student Meghan Ambrozevich-Blair, who was recently awarded a posthumous First Class Honours degree.

Meghan’s life was full of compassion; she strove to improve the lives of all animals around her, from picking up earthworms after the rain, to gaining medals for being the best HNC and HND Animal care student at Barony College, Dumfries.

In 2015, Meghan signed up for a project with the JMICAWE team - Vet Heather Bacon and Veterinary Nurse Hayley Walters, collaborating with the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (KVASU) in India - to showcase the value of compassionate and well-trained veterinary nurses The initiative has encouraged KVASU to start their own veterinary nursing training programme, and to improve the welfare of dogs and cats within its veterinary clinics (see photos above). On returning to the UK, Meghan wrote:

“At the moment there are no recognised veterinary nurses in India and we went over there to show them the amazing work we can do! Veterinary nurses are often the veterinary surgeon's right hand, we are friends to our clients and guardian angels to our patients. Although working in India proved to be a huge emotional roller-coaster, luckily the highs were just as intense as the lows. And our hopes came true earlier this week when it was announced that Kerala University have decided they definitely would like to introduce a veterinary nursing program and want to educate and train the very first veterinary nurses in India! So here’s to the future development of Indian Veterinary nurses and the long term improvement of animal care and welfare India wide!”

Meghan, a 26 year old veterinary nursing student, was tragically killed in a car accident last December as she drove to work, the day after her final veterinary nursing examination at Edinburgh Napier University. Meghan was the beloved daughter of Kevin and Lauren, loving sister of Jared and Ethan and dearly loved fiancée of Scot.

Meghan's philosophy on life

Monday, 3 July 2017

BVA Animal Welfare Foundation funds JMICAWE research

BVA Animal Welfare Foundation funds JMICAWE research

We are delighted that the BVA Animal Welfare Foundation ( has decided to fund a grant proposed by JMICAWE to identify the animal welfare priorities for the UK.

The research will use a social science technique, a Delphi analysis, to achieve consensus amongst experts on what are the most important animal welfare issues for the UK and to identify areas that should be the focus for further research.

Up for discussion in particular will be how we balance very severe animal welfare challenges (which may affect only a very small number of animals) against less severe issues (but where thousands or even millions of animals may be affected). We will be working with our animal welfare colleagues at SRUC, and with the University of Cambridge, as well as seeking a range of expert stakeholders across different industries and managed animal species and look forward to exploring the range of animal welfare issues that may be causing concern in the UK.  

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Welcome to Jess Davies, JMICAWE's new veterinary nurse

The Royal Highland Show is the highlight of the Scottish agricultural calendar. This year JMICAWE's veterinary nurse, Hayley Walters, was helping on the University of Edinburgh's stand chatting to the public about veterinary and animal welfare issues, promoting the work that the university does and the courses it offers. Joining her, and only two weeks in to her new job, was Hayley's maternity cover Jess Davies.

Jess has been veterinary nursing for 10 years and has previously worked at Cambridge Vet School, Dick White Referrals in Newmarket and volunteered for The Esther Honey Foundation on the South Pacific island of Rarotonga - the only clinic covering the whole of The Cook Islands and offering free veterinary care to all of its residents. Her patients included cats, dogs and goats and Jess was involved in training new veterinary nurses and supporting newly qualified vets.

'Having recently returned from travelling, working and volunteering overseas, I was ready for a new challenge once I returned to the UK. I am very happy to be in Edinburgh and feel privileged to be involved with the great work that JMICAWE does promoting the welfare of animals and assisting in the education of vets, students, and nurses in many different countries. Changing attitudes towards the way animals are treated, from the harmful use of live dogs and sheep used to teach surgical skills to vet students, to improving inpatient care in veterinary teaching hospitals via a veterinary nurse training programme, is an ongoing effort and I am very proud to be able to use my passion for animal welfare to contribute to this inspirational work.'

We are very pleased to have Jess join our team and her first project is to carry on helping The University of Peradeniya set up Sri Lanka's first ever veterinary nurse (VN) training programme. She will also be leading the project to create the accompanying inaugural Veterinary Nursing Skills Online Course, aimed at student VNs and lecturers working in countries that don't currently have a recognised VN training programme. We wish her all the best and Hayley too as she prepares to leave to have her first baby.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Animal Science in Perugia, Italy

Animal science in Perugia, Italy

Prof Cathy Dwyer attended the 22nd Congress of the Animal Science and Production Association of Italy as a guest speaker between 12th-16th June (

The meeting was held in the ancient and beautiful Umbrian city of Perugia, noted for its wine, jazz and chocolates! An important development of the society over the years has been an increase in the focus and presentation of papers on animal health and welfare, on a diverse range of species from fish, poultry, horses and rabbits to pigs and cattle.

Although somewhat hampered by her non-existent Italian language skills, Cathy learnt a lot about rabbit husbandry, horse-breeding, heat stress and cow calf behaviour in buffalo. She also attended a fascinating talk about the potential for insects to provide high protein food for animals and humans with a low carbon footprint. Of course, insects are already an important food source in free ranging poultry so this innovation may help to provide a more interesting and natural diet for chickens, whilst causing less ethical concerns than other protein sources for animal feeds. The acceptability of insect-based foods for humans is always an interesting discussion topic, with this being a normal food source in some countries and viewed with horror by others. But social science research presented at the congress suggested that, at least with younger Italian consumers, the idea of eating insects was viewed with interest and there was good acceptability at least for the idea. Earthworm burgers did not, however, feature on the Congress menu!   

Thursday, 22 June 2017

JMICAWE Director attends inaugural meeting of EU Animal Welfare Platform in Brussels

Inaugural meeting of the EU Animal Welfare Platform

The EU has developed a new body, the Animal Welfare Platform, as a forum to improve discussion and dialogue on animal welfare between the competent authorities (veterinarians with responsibility to deliver animal welfare improvement in each country), businesses that rely on animals, NGOs and animal groups and scientists.

The inaugural meeting of the platform was held in Brussels on 6th June, and JMICAWE Director, Prof Cathy Dwyer, was one of the small group of scientists from across Europe invited to take part as an independent expert. A particular focus for the platform discussions were around the enforcement of regulations for pig and poultry welfare, as well as discussions about other non-legislative methods to bring about improvements in animal welfare. In addition, how animal welfare standards in the EU can be rolled out to other countries was also an important discussion topic – which may have implications for the UK post-Brexit! However, in addition to pigs and poultry, other issues such as the welfare of small ruminants (sheep and goats), rabbits, horses and puppies were also raised.

Cathy says:

‘It is really good news that the EU has set up this platform and I hope that we can begin to see real change and progress as a result of this initiative. It was exciting to be present at the start of this venture and I look forward to active engagement on all areas of animal welfare policy. The international expertise of JMICAWE in engaging with other countries in animal welfare training and policy will be very important in the activities of the platform.’  

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

JMICAWE vet attends BVA Animal Welfare discussion day

British Veterinary Association's Animal Welfare discussion day highlights
 the vet’s responsibilities for safeguarding animal welfare

Last Monday the BVA’s Animal welfare foundation held their annual discussion day. Starting with a session on challenges for modern pets, speakers looked at the impact of brachycephaly and behaviour problems on the welfare of our companion animals, and the role of the vet in speaking out for animal welfare.

In the afternoon a panel of equine vets outlined the challenges of equine welfare in performance horses. There was a strong focus on welfare being assessed in terms of a horse’s fitness to work, and this contrasted clearly with the previous companion animal welfare session where behavioural and social needs had been considered alongside physical fitness.

The day ended with a session outlining AWF-funded research in production animals which was leading to improvements in welfare for sheep and dairy cattle, with a focus on changing traditional farming approaches to healthcare, in order to improve welfare.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month

Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month

May was veterinary nurse awareness month and a good time to re-emphasise how important a well-trained, compassionate veterinary nurse is in improving patient welfare in the clinic.

Veterinary nurses (VNs) are trained for a minimum of two years in the classroom and whilst in practice. They have many responsibilities and skills including care of all inpatients, anaesthetic monitoring, medication administration, blood sampling, X-raying, client education, equipment maintenance, laboratory tests, stock ordering and generally making the vet’s life a whole lot easier! They are a valued member of the veterinary team and contribute enormously to an animal’s positive experience whilst in the clinic.

Whilst veterinary nursing is a recognised profession in many countries around the world, there are many places where the role does not exist and the vet or a helper is expected to perform all of these tasks too. After the success of our two ‘Send a VN’ projects, in which we integrated British VNs into two vet schools in Sri Lanka and India for a week showcasing the  value and skills of a VN,  plans are now well underway in creating Sri Lanka and India’s first ever veterinary nurse training programme.

A VN training programme, run in country by existing local veterinary lecturers, that produced skilled and knowledgeable VNs would result in freeing veterinary doctors to concentrate on more in-depth clinical work, research and teaching and an improvement in patient welfare. Whilst VNs are instrumental in the smooth running of a clinic and are great value for money, it is important to understand that a VN cannot diagnose a patient, prescribe medicines or perform surgery. They act in a supportive role but only after direction from the veterinary doctor. That said, most vets who are used to working with VNs would be lost without a well-trained, skilled, caring nurse by their side and we hope to see this same kind of recognition from the training programmes!

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

JMICAWE Vet Heather Bacon speaks at AZEVN Congress on the importance of Vet Nurses

Delegates at The Association of Zoo and Exotic Veterinary Nurses (AZEVN) Congress 2017 heard how Vet Nurses have a key role to play in assessing and improving animal welfare.

Last week, more than 60 delegates from a range of nursing backgrounds gathered at Bristol Zoo to listen to The University of Edinburgh’s Heather Bacon as she used her keynote speech to explain how integral the role was in all veterinary facilities.

She also explored the difference between welfare and ethics and how as a human being one tends to decide what an animal is thinking, rather than being alert to their sentience.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Two JMICAWE courses win accolade from RSPCA & BSAS

Two leading courses in animal welfare education have been commended for their innovative approach.
The programmes have been praised for the role they have played in transforming the care of pets, livestock and wild animals worldwide for more than a quarter of a century.
They have also been lauded for improving the welfare of animals used in research.

Innovation award

The on-campus and online programmes have received the Innovative Developments in Animal Welfare Award from the British Society of Animal Science and the RSPCA.
We are committed to training the animal welfare leaders of the future and are thrilled that these programmes, run jointly with SRUC, have been recognised for their success.
Professor David ArgyleHead of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Heather Bacon presents at WAZA Global Zoo Animal Welfare Congress

Building on a recent MoA with the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria, Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE is currently in Detroit, USA to participate in the Global Zoo Animal Welfare Congress. The meeting – an invitation-only gathering of stakeholders from academic, NGO and zoological backgrounds – is focussing on developing a global commitment to animal welfare within the international zoo community.

Heather will present today as part of an expert panel on “Educating Zoo and Aquarium Professionals on Zoo Animal Welfare”, outlining the work she has done as part of her PhD research as well as practical educational workshops in partnership with zoo associations and NGOs around the world.

“It’s very exciting that the global zoo community is engaging with the subject of Zoo animal welfare” said Heather “International zoo standards vary greatly – in many countries zoos may act as consumers of wildlife rather than as conservation organisations, and animal welfare standards are incredibly variable. This meeting is an exciting opportunity to engage with professionals from around the world to further develop standards in zoo animal welfare.”

Prof Marc Bekoff giving his Keynote address

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Ceva Animal Welfare Awards 2017

We are waiting with bated breath this morning to see if any of our partners and collaborators were successful in last night's Ceva award ceremony at BSAVA Congress in Birmingham.

Heather and Hayley are both in attendance, but all the very best to Lesley Winton, Andrew Gardiner and Dogstar who were all finalists in the categories as detailed below:-

Monday, 3 April 2017

Seeing the Heat - Edinburgh Zoo - 5-7 April

Our colleagues at SRUC will be hosting an interactive workshop at the Edinburgh Zoo during Edinburgh’s International Science Festival on thermal imaging and how it can be used to improve animal health and welfare.  It is suitable for all ages from 5+.

It is a drop-in event from 11:00 to 15:00 and you will find them at the Budongo Trail. They would be very happy to see you there and to show you what this technology can do!

For more info:

Thursday, 23 March 2017

The Truth about Cats and Dogs - Free Online Course

The University of Edinburgh has launched a new Massive Open-access Online Course: The Truth about Cats and Dogs.

In this course we provide 'an insight into cat and dog behaviour - through their eyes'. The course is divided into five topics: the appliance of science; behaviour and body language; senses and perception; challenges for the human-animal relationship, including pet problem behaviour; and how to improve the quality of life for cats and dogs in our care. By exploring how our pet cats and dogs perceive the world, we can gain a greater insight into their unique needs, and understand how to better provide for these needs, thus enhancing the important relationships that we have with our pet dogs and cats.

Sign-up now for the free online course (pay £39 ONLY if you want the certificate). Course starts 17 April. Register now

We look forward to you joining the course!

Monday, 20 March 2017

JMICAWE's vet nurse in Sri Lanka and India

JMICAWE's veterinary nurse Hayley Walters has just returned from a very successful meeting with leading faculty members from the Kerala Veterinary Animal Science University (KVASU).

Hayley and JMICAWE's vet Heather Bacon had previously been in Sri Lanka delivering CPD in inhalational anaesthesia to Charity partner Dogstar; and meeting with the University of Peradeniya in Kandy, Sri Lanka’s only vet school, to further enhance veterinary education in partnership with The University of Edinburgh.  Hayley then took the opportunity to meet with KVASU in India on her way home.

The aim of the meeting was to further discuss the introduction of a 12-month veterinary nursing programme at KVASU. Well-trained veterinary nurses provide the vital care a patient needs when it is sick and fearful in the clinic and can dramatically improve a patient’s welfare whilst reducing the workload of the veterinary surgeon, freeing him or her up to concentrate on more complex aspects of veterinary medicine.

KVASU currently has a 6-month programme that is practically taught and includes both large and small animal teaching with a focus on pharmacy, laboratory and reproduction.

A more small animal based programme, that included classroom teaching 2 hours a day as well as practical, on-the-job training, was agreed to be needed to help with vets treating India’s booming pet population.

A 12-stage plan is in place and on schedule with the next step being to identify what Indian vets think skills and knowledge a well-trained vet nurse should have to be of optimum benefit.

Teaching videos and handouts, specific to India, are also being developed by the JMICAWE team to help with the teaching of this new course.

Hayley said, “The 6 month course already trains some extremely dedicated and thoughtful students who either go on to be veterinary assistants or train further as livestock inspectors. With a focus on small animal training, we can ensure that dog and cat inpatients are receiving the best care possible whilst in the clinics from knowledgeable veterinary nurses who support the vet”.

Friday, 10 March 2017

JMICAWE vet team improving dog and cat welfare in Sri Lanka

JMICAWE vet team improving dog and cat welfare in Sri Lanka

Heather and Hayley from the JMICAWE have returned to Sri Lanka to further enhance veterinary education in partnership with the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka’s only vet school. The partnership aims to develop collaborative teaching and research initiatives to enhance veterinary skills in canine and feline medicine and surgery and veterinary nursing, supported by funding from the Dog’s Trust.

Heather and Hayley will also deliver CPD in inhalational anaesthesia to Charity partner Dogstar, a Sri Lankan NGO which runs a mobile spay neuter outreach program and has sterilised over 15000 animals, actively reducing the numbers of unwanted puppies and kittens in the Negombo region. 

This ongoing collaboration between academic and NGO partners aims to optimise veterinary skills in canine and feline medicine and surgery in Sri Lanka, as well as enhancing practical welfare of in-patients in the University hospitals, and the Dogstar mobile clinic.

This visit builds on Heather and Hayley’s previous visit in November 2016, which resulted in a number of positive activities at the University of Peradeniya, including a 3 day workshop on canine behaviour, medicine, and surgery, sponsored by Dog’s Trust, the development of a new feline ward, and the training of veterinary students, and veterinary assistants from the Sri Lankan police, air force, army and zoo in canine behaviour, handling, and nursing skills.