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Biomarkers Offer Potential to Help in Identifying Animal Welfare Concerns
Dr. Yolande Seddon - Western College of Veterinary Medicine

Farmscape for August 4, 2021

The NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Swine Welfare says biological markers that reflect an animal's state of well being have the potential to help identify animal welfare concerns that need to be addressed.
Researchers with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine are looking at how various biological markers or biomarkers relate to different animal welfare states, whether positive or negative, in an effort to identify measurable indicators of animal welfare.
Dr. Yolande Seddon, an Assistant Professor of Swine Behaviour and Welfare with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Swine Welfare, says the goal is develop improved and more objective measures of animal welfare.

Clip-Dr. Yolande Seddon-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
For example, the stall versus groups debate, there is a lot of different behavioral and physiological measures that you can take but ultimately it is more of a chronic stress or chronic effect we are measuring of the experience of an animal in this housing system and that was hard to easily quantify when we're looking at a lot of acute measurements, so measures over a short period of time.
This has led to an interest to have different measures that might be able to tell us objectively about the physiological state or experiences of animals over a longer period of time.
Therefor, on one basis, the objective is to see if it can help us to identify and measure animal welfare states to be used in a line of research to help us answer challenging questions but on the other hand, we also have an ability to develop new measurements and monitoring tools for industry to use in order to understand how animal care practices are influencing the animals and their productivity.

Dr. Seddon says new animal welfare measures will potentially be of value to researchers, to those involved in genetic selection and could provide measures for animal welfare verification programs.
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