ISAE by Region : Benelux


Welcome to the Home page of the Benelux Region of the International Society for Applied Ethology! The ISAE is a scientific society that focuses on the study of applied animal behaviour covering topics such as farm animals, wildlife management, companion and laboratory animals, control of pests, human-animal interactions, and animal welfare. From this site you will be able to access information on present and future ISAE activities in the Benelux region.

Benelux members, if you have news or useful links for ISAE members in our region, please contact your regional secretaries!

Stephanie Buijs

For the last 10 years, Stephanie was employed at the Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO) in Belgium, where she worked on rabbit and broiler behaviour and welfare. Due to her recent move to the University of Bristol she will soon be stepping down as regional secretary.

Liesbeth Blohuis

Liesbeth works at the Adaptation Physiology Group at Wageningen University, The Netherlands, where she and a number of PhD students focus on investigating the (social) behaviour and behavioural development of pigs and chickens, and contributes to courses for BSc and MSc students.



Regional Activities and Meetings

The next ISAE Benelux conference will be held on 13 October 2016 at Smits camel farm ( in Berlicum, The Netherlands. The conference will include 16 oral presentations and 8 posters. This year we'll give some extra attention to pets, featuring 2 extended talks on dog behaviour. People mainly interested in farm/zoo/laboratory animals need not worry though, there'll be plenty of attention for these as well. In addition to the scientific program there will be a tour of the camel farm. The preliminary programme is shown below.

The deadlines for abstract submission and student motivation letters have passed, but it is still possible to register for attendance of course. Use our registration form to register and send it to Registration deadline: 3 October 2016



40 euros (ISAE members) / 60 euros (non-members) including lunch and coffee breaks. Dinner will be served at the Camel Farm after the conference. This is optional and costs 25 euro.

Free attendance to the conference will be possible for a limited number of MSc./BSc. students. The application deadline for free attendance has passed. Students can of course still register for the normal fee.

Any questions regarding this conference can be sent to:


Preliminary programme

10.00 Opening and introduction of the ISAE (Benelux)

Session 1: Dog behaviour and welfare

Dominance in domestic dogs
Joanne van der Borg

Defining the owner-dog relationship
Bonne Beerda

Welfare of dogs housed on concrete versus mesh floor with plastic coating in a commercial breeding facility
Isabelle Van Impe, S. Depauw, Hilde Vervaecke


Session 2: Multicriteria welfare assessment

Assessing animal welfare in Costa Rican dairy herds based on the Welfare Quality® protocols
Alice Mercedes Di Giacinto, Frank van Eerdenburg, Sandra Estrada-König, Mariano Rojas-González, Jaime Murillo-Herrera, Juan José Romero-Zúñiga

Sensitivity of the integrated Welfare Quality® scores of the dairy cattle protocol to changes in individual measures
Sophie de Graaf, Bart Ampe, Stephanie Buijs, Sine Andreasen, Alice De Boyer Des Roches, Frank van Eerdenburg, Marie Haskell, Marlene Kirchner, Luc Mounier, Miroslav Radeski, Christoph Winckler, Jo Bijttebier, Ludwig Lauwers, Wim Verbeke, Frank Tuyttens

A method for integrating animal welfare measures into an overall welfare index that reflects expert opinion
Frank Tuyttens, Sophie de Graaf, Sophie, Lisanne Stadig, Leonie Jacobs, Said Benaissa, Bart Ampe

Animal welfare risk assessment –an objective science-based tool to identify risks for animal welfare
Vivian Goerlich-Jansson, Saskia Arndt



Session 3: Environmental influences on behaviour

Activity budget of two Giant Pandas at Pairi Daiza Zoo (Belgium) and the possible influence of environmental factors
Christel Moons, Claire Van Hoomissen, Tim Bouts

Stress of exposure to visitors in captive blue-eyed black lemurs (Eulemur flavifrons) at Apenheul Primate Park, the Netherlands
Manon de Visser, Pim van Hooft, Kevin Matson, Thomas Bionda

Can light during incubation reduce fearfulness in laying hens?
Bas Rodenburg

Chick vocalisations vary with hatching noise: an indicator of poultry welfare?
Peiyun Li, Marc Naguib, Henry van den Brand, Bas Rodenburg

The behavioural and physiological effects of single- and mixed-sex housing on broiler chickens
Maaike de Leeuw, Vivian Goerlich-Jansson, Rebecca Nordquist


Session 4: Free papers

Sex effects on cognitive performance of pigs in a spatial holeboard task
Sanne Roelofs, Daniela Melendez Suarez, Rebecca Nordquist, Franz Josef van der Staay

Infrared thermography: a non-invasive method to assess stress in mice?
Hetty Boleij, Eva Wokke, Vivian Goerlich-Jansson, Saskia Arndt

Divergent selection on feather pecking affects natural antibody levels
Jerine van der Eijk, Aart Lammers, Bas Kemp, Marc Naguib, Bas Rodenburg

Use of an Ultra-Wideband system to monitor chickens’ positions in a free-range area
Lisanne Stadig, Bart Ampe, Johan Criel, Jarissa Maselyne, Bas Rodenburg, Bert Reubens,  Frank Tuyttens


17.10 Closing, drinks & student presentation award announcement

17.45 Dinner



Electronic single-space feeders for fattening pigs: an exploratory study
Anneleen Bulens, Sanne Van Beirendonck, Jos Van Thielen, Nadine Buys, Bert Driessen

Condition monitoring of sheep for landscaping
Bert Driessen, Anneleen Bulens, Achiel Tylleman, Jos Van Thielen, Sanne Van Beirendonck

The preference of broilers for three different types of enrichment
Moniek Göertz, Laura Van den Eertwegh, Sylvia Luijten, Gerben Hofstra, Liesbeth Dingboom, Jehan Verstappen, Ingrid de Jong

Do housing conditions affect emotional states and decision making in laying hens?
Katarina Pichova, Lubor Kostal

Guidelines for dog visits in hospital settings focussing on dog welfare
Adinda Sannen, Aymeline De Cartier, Hilde Vervaecke

Using data from electronic feeding stations for investigating the effect of lameness on the feeding behaviour of sows
Olga Szczodry, Wouter Kraan, Emilie-Julie Bos, Bart Ampe, Annelies Van Nuffel, Frank Tuyttens

Heat stress in cattle grazing in nature reserves
Sanne Van Beirendonck, Inez Verdonck, Anneleen Bulens, Jos Van Thielen, Bert Driessen

Studying flexibility of female mate preference in the guppy (Poecilia reticulata) using computer-generated animations
Marit Vrijenhoek, Camilla  Hinde, Bart Pollux


Previous ISAE Benelux conferences

ISAE Benelux conference 2015

Click on the link to view the proceedings, or check the programme below.

Our one-day annual conference was held on October 15th, at “De Hooibeekhoeve” in Geel, Belgium. De Hooibeekhoeve is the educational centre for dairy farming of the province of Antwerp. Approximately 60 people from 13 different organizations attended the meeting. The meeting consisted of oral presentations, poster presentations, a small excursion to the Hooibeekhoeve’s facilities and a dinner. Topics for the oral sessions were ‘Enrichment and fearfulness’; ‘Consciousness in fish, pigs and researchers’; ‘Perinatal and transgenerational effects’ and ‘Lameness and disease’. The presentations dealt with common farm animals such as dairy cattle, calves, piglets, sows, broilers and laying hens, but also with fish (turbot), ferrets, humans and Japanese quail. The presentation prize for students was awarded to Merel Verhoeven, PhD candidate at Wageningen University, for her talk entitled ‘Time to loss of consciousness and the relation with behaviour in fattening pigs stunned with carbon dioxide’. Apart from the talks, several interesting posters were presented during the conference and there was ample opportunity for networking. We really enjoyed this day and would like to thank all participants, and the others who helped to make the ISAE Benelux Meeting 2015 a success: Inonge Reimert for organisation of the meeting, reviewing abstracts and being a member of the presentation jury; Caroline Clouard for reviewing abstracts; Jan Wijnen and Monique Ooms for technical and organizational support; Marc Bracke, Elske de Haas, Ingrid de Jong and Frank Tuyttens for chairing sessions; Maaike Cox and Vivian Goerlich-Jansson for being members of the presentation jury; people from De Hooibeekhoeve for their assistance, and of course the ISAE.



  Benelux regional 2015



Session 1: Enrichment and fearfulness

The effect of removing environmental enrichment on the behavior of veal calves
Van Beirendonck S, Steensels E, Bulens A, Van Thielen J, Driessen B

Ferrets’ behavioural priorities and preferences as determined in a three- and seven-chamber consumer demand study
Reijgwart ML, Vinke CM, Hendriksen CFM, van der Meer M, Schoemaker NJ, van Zeeland, YR

Effects of free-range access, shelter type, and weather conditions on behaviour and welfare of slow-growing broilers
Stadig L, Rodenburg TB, Ampe B, Reubens B, Tuyttens, FA

Fearful and non-fearful chickens’ perception of different shades of grey
de Haas EN, Lee C, Rodenburg T

Differences in keel bone disorders and fearfulness between two hybrids of laying hens

Heerkens J, Rodenburg TB, Ampe B, Delezie E, Tuyttens FAM


Session 2: Consciousness in fish, pigs and researchers

Effects of immersing turbot (Scophthalmus maximus) in ice water
Bracke MBM, Lambooij B, Reimert HGM, Foss A, Imsland AK, van de Vis H

Time to loss of consciousness and the relation with behaviour in fattening pigs stunned with carbon dioxide
Verhoeven MTW, Gerritzen MG, Hellebrekers LJ, Kemp B

Expectation bias in applied ethology: debiasing techniques and opinion of ethologists
Tuyttens FAM, Stadig L, Heerkens J, Van laer Eva, Buijs, S, Ampe Bart


Session 3: Perinatal and transgenerational effects

Transgenerational effects of the social environment on endocrine profiles and behaviour in Japanese quail
Goerlich-Jansson VC, Langen E, von Engelhardt N

Prenatal, but not early postnatal, exposure to a Western diet enhances spatial memory of piglets in a hole-board task
Clouard C, Kemp B, Gerrits WJ, Val-Laillet D, Bolhuis JE

Testing food motivation in low and normal birth weight pigs in a runway and operant conditioning task
Antonides A, van Eck L, Nordquist RE, van der Staay JF

Effect of transport duration and parental age on day-old chick welfare and performance
Jacobs L, Delezie E, Duchateau L, Gellynck X, Goethals K, Lambrecht E, Viaene J, Tuyttens FAM


Session 4: Lameness and disease

Significant risk factors associated with digital dermatitis in Flemish dairy herds
Willems E, Van Den Vonder J, Van Loo H, Lommelen F, Van Aert M, Van Beirendonck S, Van Thielen J, Buyse J, Driessen B

Fattening rabbits in park systems: a slatted plastic or a metal wire floor?
Jacquet M, Teller C

The effect of rubber-topped floors on lameness and claw lesions in group housed sows
Bos E, Maes D, van Riet M, Millet S, Ampe B, Janssens G, Tuyttens FAM

Pressure mat analysis of MIA induced osteoarthritis as a model for clinical lameness in weaned pigs
Verhoeve T, Meijer E, Uilenreef JJ, van der Staay FJ



Behavior of fattening pigs in two-level pens - Bulens A, Van Beirendonck S, Van Thielen J, Buys N, Driessen B

Housing and health of pet rabbits: a survey in Flanders - Driessen B, Bulens A, Bosschaerts S, Van Beirendonck S, Van Thielen J

Flemish consumer perceptions of meat from stunned and non-stunned slaughtered animals - Laleman J, Bulens A, Van Belle J, Van Beirendonck S, Van Thielen J, Driessen B

A comprehensive ethogram for commercially housed pigs - Van Woerden L, Uillenreef J, van der Staay FJ




ISAE Benelux conference 2014

Click on the link to view the proceedings, or check the programme below.

We were very pleased to hear that most participants of the ISAE Benelux conference in 2013 indicated that they would like to attend an annual regional meeting, so we organized another one in 2014! The one-day ISAE Benelux conference was this time held at the Vencocampus in Eersel, The Netherlands, and included a small excursion tour during which innovations in the poultry industry were presented. There were over 50 participants from more than ten different organisations. Also posters were presented this time. Session topics were ‘Early life’, ‘Group housing of farm and lab animals’ ‘Resources and enrichment’ and ‘Development and evaluation of tools and protocols’. Apart from presentations on cattle, pigs and chickens, also studies on parrots, humans, rabbits, horses, sheep, goats and ferrets were discussed. The presentation prize for students was awarded to Marjolein Poen, veterinary student at Utrecht University, for her talk entitled ‘Analysis of six spatiotemporal variables derived from pressure mat measurements: exploring their use as discriminative diagnostic tool for detecting piglet lameness’.

We really enjoyed this conference day and wish to thank all participants again, and others who helped to make this day a success: Inonge Reimert for organisation of this day, reviewing abstracts and being a member of the poster jury; Caroline Clouard for reviewing abstracts; Bas Kemp, Christel Moons, Franz Josef van der Staay and Frank Tuyttens for chairing sessions; Frank van Eerdenburg and Michiel de Krom for being a member of the presentation prize jury; Jan Wijnen for technical and organisational assistance; UFAW for sponsoring some of the attending students; Vencocampus for their assistance, and of course the ISAE.


21NOV14 Benelux


 Session 1: Early life

Pre-weaning dietary iron deficiency impairs spatial learning and memory in the cognitive holeboard task in piglets
Antonides A, Schoonderwoerd AC, Scholz G, Berg BM, Nordquist RE and Van der Staay FJ

No guts, no glory: effects of early-life microbiota on behavioural development in layer chicks
Rodenburg TB, Lammers A, Naguib M and Beerda B

The effect of litter size on the emotional reactivity and the spatial learning and memory of pigs
Fijn L,  Antonides A, Van der Staay FJ and Nordquist R

Weaning age in parrots: relations with species characteristics
Koene P


Session 2: Group housing of farm and lab animals

Incidence of lameness in sows housed in dynamic or static groups
Bos E, Van Riet MMJ, Maes D, Millet S, Ampe B, Janssens, GPJ, Tuyttens, FAM

Governing farm animal welfare, governing stockmanship: a sociological analysis of the formulation and on-farm implementation of the EU group sow housing legislation
De Krom MPMM

Safeguarding the welfare of the laboratory horse: guidelines on the management of horses kept in research facilities
Jonckheer-Sheehy V and Houpt KA

Semi-group housing - do commercial breeding rabbits benefit from the presumed advantages?
Buijs S,  Maertens L, Tuyttens FAM


Session 3: Resources and enrichment

Effect of heat load on shade use and panting score in Holstein dairy and Belgian Blue beef cattle on pasture
Van laer E, Moons C, Ampe B, Sonck B, Vandaele L and Tuyttens FAM

Broilers’ free range use is affected by vertical panels, age at first outdoor access, and weather conditions
Stadig L, Ampe B, De Smet S, Tuyttens FAM

Straw blocks affect the behaviour of fattening pigs
Bulens A, Van Beirendonck S, Van Thielen J, Buys N, Driessen B

Pushing it to the limit: workaholic ferrets
Reijgwart ML, Vinke CM, Hendriksen CFM, Van der Meer M, Schoemaker NJ,  Van Zeeland YRA


Session 4: Development and evaluation of tools and protocols

Analysis of six spatiotemporal variables derived from pressure mat measurements: exploring their use as discriminative diagnostic tool for detecting piglet lameness
Poen MJ, Meijer E, Flipse I and Van der Staay FJ

The use of accelerometers to detect lameness in weaned piglets
Van de Reep L, Meier E, Vriends L and Van der Staay FJ

Sound analysis of dairy cows
Meen G, Schellekens MA, Slegers MHM, Leenders NLG, Van Erp-van der Kooij E and Noldus LPJJ

Monitoring welfare in practice on Dutch dairy farms
Van Eerdenburg F, Hulsen J, Snel B and Stegeman A

Virtual Electric Fencing tool for optimizing dairy cow grazing
Hogewerf P, Ipema B, Van Reenen C, De Vries C, Van Erp-van der Kooij E and De Kort M


ISAE Benelux conference 2013

For the first time in years, a one-day ISAE Benelux conference was held in Sterksel, The Netherlands. This started as a ‘pilot’, but turned out to be a very successful day with nearly 50 participants from both Belgium and The Netherlands. A broad mix of PhD students, researchers, teachers and other people interested in applied ethology was present. The UFAW supported the participation of 7 MSc and BSc students.

On-going research was presented during four different sessions entitled ‘Development and validation of welfare measures’; ‘Cognition, emotion, personality and fear’; ‘Housing, management and social behaviour’; ‘Automation and modelling’. The Proceedings of the Benelux ISAE conference 2013 are now available online.

The award for the best (MSc or PhD) student presentation was won by PhD student Iris Boumans from the Animal Production Systems Group of Wageningen University, for her talk ‘Modelling tail biting behaviour in pigs’.

Based on a brainstorm session organized during the conference on the role of the ISAE Benelux and on evaluations, we will decide how to proceed: what type of activities are wanted / needed from ISAE Benelux, how often should such a activities be organized etc.

We look back on a very successful day and wish to thank all people who participated (again) for their attendance.

 2013 regional group photo


Related Research and Education

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The annual meeting of the NVG will be held 30 Nov. - 2 Dec. 2016.
More information can now be found at


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