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.