I am a first year PhD student studying the control of aggression between intensively farmed pigs. The mixing of unfamiliar pigs is common practice in commercial pig farming and associated with high levels of aggression related to the need to establish dominance relationships. The factors associated with aggression have been well studied and a variety of solutions to the problem have been identified. However, mixing aggression remains undiminished in commercial farming, despite being associated with welfare and production costs. The first aim of my PhD project is to identify the factors preventing a change in practice. As farmers are the primary stakeholder responsible for the control of aggression, my project employs a specific focus on the farmer. Using my background in Psychology I employ a range of social science research methods to identify farmers’ perceptions of aggression; investigating concepts such as desensitisation and cognitive dissonance. As my project progresses I also aim to identify the most cost effective strategies to reduce the occurrence and impact of aggression. My research focuses on the gap between science and practice through an interdisciplinary approach combining animal science, social science and socioeconomics. Ultimately, I hope to provide evidence on how to bridge the gap between animal welfare research and actual animal welfare improvement


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