Robustness of emotional welfare in swine: development and validation of an automated measurement tool to facilitate genetic selection
Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences
Université Laval, Canada
The aim of this project on domestic piglets is to test the hypothesis that differences in overall welfare, between individuals of the same species, are stable over time and across housing and husbandry conditions. This would mean, in other words, that welfare is in part determined by aspects of personality that are specific to each individual, as is the case in humans. We will use several methods of assessing welfare according to behavioural and physiological measures. This will include development of automated cognitive tests used to assess welfare directly in piglets' home environments, which will facilitate large-scale data gathering. This will lead, in a subsequent project, to an evaluation of genetic contributions to welfare across different living conditions, and of the potential long-term usefulness of artificially selecting breeding animals who are robust with respect to welfare.
Two positions are available for this project: one doctorate (PhD) and one master's (MSc). The PhD student is expected to take the lead on developing and validating the test apparatus. Both students are expected to work collaboratively to carry out animal experiments.
PhD - January 2021
MSc - September 2021