30 years of expertise in animal welfare and behaviour

The role of CAWSE is to provide advice and information about animal welfare. We provide independent, evidence-based information and resources which explain animal welfare issues, describe how animal behaviour and welfare are assessed, and discuss the place of animal welfare in society, nationally and internationally.


Maternal behaviour and lamb survival

Worldwide up to 15% of lambs born fail to survive to weaning. Most of these lambs die within a few days of birth, for a variety of reasons but particularly due to starvation and hypothermia. This occurs because ewes and lambs do not form an adequate bond, and the lamb may get lost or not get sufficient milk from its mother. Our research has focused on the behaviours that occur when the ewe gives birth, and the responses from the newborn lamb, which ensure that the attachment process between mother and young occurs properly and that the lamb is cared for by its mother.

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Development of positive welfare indicators for farm assurance

The Scottish Government Animal Health and Welfare Strategy Welfare Working Group has recently endorsed the concepts of positive welfare and ‘a good life’ proposed by Farm Animal Welfare Council in 2009, setting the objective that all animals in Scotland should have a good life. However, assessment of whether an animal has a good life, for example for farm assurance or to bench-mark animal welfare state, is challenging.

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SheepNet is a thematic network project designed to develop and promote innovation to improve sheep productivity (number of lambs weaned/ewe mated). An important part of this project is to improve lamb survival, a critical component of animal welfare on sheep farms. The study will work holistically to develop strategies to promote the sustainability of sheep farming, whilst protecting sheep welfare.

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Highland cow

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