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Birds in Nest

Animal Behaviour, Performance and Welfare

  • Research theme: Sustainable Futures
  • School: School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences


The group focuses on research aimed at improving the welfare of captive, companion and performance animals. This multi-disciplinary group includes specialists in the assessment of animal health and welfare using a range of concepts and methodologies. In addition to the summaries below, further information relating to research in each of these areas can be found by following the relevant links.

Research is conducted in three main areas:

  • Captive Species
  • Companion Animals
  • Equine Management and Equestrian Performance
Cheetah leaning into bowl

Captive Species

Research in this area includes the evaluation of the impact of human-animal interactions on animal well-being, animal nutrition, health, husbandry and reproductive physiology in a range of captive species. Animal personality profiling is conducted to assess the response of individuals in a range of scenarios. Staff involved in captive animal research, related projects and a case study (Evidence-based feeding guidelines for captive cheetahs: Kat Whitehouse-Tedd) can be found by following the link: Captive Species.

Dog Running Between Agility Cones

Companion Animals

Research involving companion animals focuses predominantly on domestic cats and dogs. Canine research areas relate to health and performance including the biomechanics of agility dogs, heat stress and temperature monitoring, genetic profiling for disease susceptibility, breed / individual differences and behavioural problems.

Research on domestic cats focuses primarily on the relationships between people and their cats, cat population management and breed-related disorders. Staff involved in companion animal research, related projects and a case study (Jump kinematics in agility dogs: Emily Birch, Dr Jacqueline Boyd and Dr Anne Carter) can be found by following the link:  Companion Animals.

Two Horses on Hay

Equine Management and Equestrian Performance

The theme of sustainable practice runs through the research into aspects of equine management and equestrian performance, with the overarching aim of improving equine welfare. In addition to collaborative research with external partners, much of this research is conducted at the NTU Equestrian Centre which includes a range of different housing types, an indoor and an outdoor riding arena and other research facilities.

Research into equine management practice includes the impact of different housing and husbandry methods, feeding behaviour, activity monitoring, bedding and transport. Research in areas of equestrian performance includes horse and rider vision in equestrian sport, horse-rider interactions, equestrian surfaces and the development of non-invasive measures of stress. Staff involved in equine research, related projects and a case study (A social approach to equine husbandry: Anna Gregory, Kym Griffin, Dr Carol Hall, Dr Rachel Kay and Dr Kelly Yarnell) can be found by following the link: Equine research.

PhD Projects

  • Hannah Davie: Mechanisms of social cohesion in groups of reintroduced takhi (Przewalski's horse, Equus ferus przewalskii) in Mongolia
  • Kym Griffin (Academic Associate): Equine sleep patterns
  • Aurélie Jolivald: An investigation into the relationship between behavioural and physiological responses and coping style in the domestic horse (Equus caballus)
  • Ellen Williams: An investigation into social relationships and social structure in European zoo elephant herds

Visiting Academics

  • Honorary Professor Dr Pat Harris MA, VetMB, PhD, DipECVCN MRCVS
  • Professor Hilary Clayton (BVMS, PhD, Diplomate, ACVSMR Professor and Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair Emerita)
  • Honorary Professor Ellen Dierenfeld (E.S. Dierenfeld Consultancy, LLC; comparative animal nutritionist)
  • Visiting Fellow Jeremy Kemp-Symonds (BA (Hons), BSc (Hons), MSc, BVMS, PGCHE, MRSB, AFHEA, MRCVS, Veterinary Consultant)

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