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10. Animal welfare in production systems

Our research aim and focus

Developing and evaluating conventional and organic production systems (housing, management, feeding methods and out-door access) that meets animals’ behavioural and physiological needs and ensure system functionality through animals’ use of their natural adaptations.

Our primary focus areas

  • Quantifying animals’ behavioural needs and identifying ways to take these needs into account in management and housing, thereby enhancing positive affective states and preventing suffering, stress and damaging and abnormal behaviour.
  • Quantifying the effect of physical and social environment on behavioural development, susceptibility to stress and learning ability, and thus the animals’ ability to adapt successfully.
  • Understanding the effect of housing factors, for instance resource access (e.g. space, feed and enrichment) and flooring on behaviour, health and production.
  • Understanding the effect of the social environment (e.g. social composition of the group), and changes hereof (e.g. cross-fostering, early weaning, maternal separation, re-grouping) on behaviour, health and production.
  • Investigating the interplay between animal (i.e. genotype, state and production) and production system, for instance, using knowledge of foraging behaviour in the management of feeding, and knowledge of social behaviour in the management of loose-housed animals. 
  • Developing organic livestock production systems, including managing outdoor access for animals, for instance in relation to their use of free-range areas and their access to forage, shelters and water.

Theme group coordinator

Margit Bak Jensen

Professor Department of Animal Science - ANIS Behaviour, stress and welfare (BSW)

Our research perspectives

The research aims to provide the necessary basic knowledge to develop housing and management that meet animals’ physiological and behavioural needs and to enhance positive welfare in current and novel production systems.

In addition, knowledge of animals’ ability to adapt through natural behaviour is used as a mean to enhance system functioning and animal resilience, health and welfare. Hence, the research contributes to develop sustainable animal production systems.