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Animal Welfare - Book Reviews

Animal Welfare vol 24 issue 1 Volume 31 
Issue 1
February 2022




Animal-centric Care and Management, First Edition

Edited by DB Sørensen, S Cloutier and BN Gaskill (2021). Published by CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, USA. 190 pages Hardback/paperback (ISBN: 978-0367181024). Price £85.78 (hardback), £31.99 (paperback).


The essence of this book is to go beyond the notion of the 3Rs principles as originally described by Russell and Burch (1959), viewing these as a collection of ethical ideals not only to be adhered to, but to be further developed in all circumstances where animals are at risk of suffering. It advises on the application of the 3Rs in the modern laboratory environment. It provides a comprehensive species-specific guide to the currently believed welfare requirements of a wide variety of different animals that are commonly used in biomedical research based on their physical and emotional needs.

In the opening chapter, Megan LaFolette summarises the importance of developing a strong human-animal bond to prevent fear and distress in animals but, also, she stresses the importance that this bond also has in preventing stress in the humans that inevitably must engage in procedures that cause some degree of suffering. It describes how, by achieving such a bond based on respecting animals as individuals, all concerned can have a more rewarding experience and function more effectively. The chapter provides a clear description of how the co-occurrence of a human and animal can be sub-divided into those encounters that are likely to be positive or negative. Given Megan’s research background she rightly cites rat tickling as an example of a way to create a positive human-animal bond and thereby promote positive welfare. As a cautionary note, however, one needs to be mindful of the possibility that while developing these bonds animals may exhibit signs we might improperly interpret as pleasure, when in fact they are not. For example, a human may respond to tickling with laughter which the tickler interprets as pleasure, when in fact many people find tickling unpleasant. Chapter 3 is pertinent to this point in describing animal moods and emotions, and how they may sometimes be misinterpreted.

Chapter 4 summarises current knowledge about different types of abnormal behaviours and the circumstances that can elicit them. The critical point is to remember that welfare issues that result in abnormal behaviour can affect animals throughout their whole experimental life despite the removal of the factor that initially perpetrated the problem. This can lead to animals performing poorly or in a manner that obfuscates research findings. A great example is the one given regarding the somersaulting mouse, whereby the abnormality is one caused by frustrating conditions during early life that altered neural function, and not by any current lack of ideal housing. Overall, this chapter provides an excellent description of the various circumstances that can lead to the occurrence of abnormal behaviour in many different species and what mitigating interventions can be utilised.

I was particularly pleased to read the chapter on learning which would be especially helpful to any researcher or animal carer struggling to understand other sometimes-complicated descriptions of the processes at large. Such a clear and concise account of learning theory is rare in that it places the processes in the context of day-to-day laboratory procedures. It provides numerous context-relevant examples that help to clarify what is meant by animal conditioning, and how it can be applied to enhance the quality of an animal’s research experience. The logical extension of this appears in Chapter 6 where the theories are further explained in a way that helps the reader to understand the importance of animal training to enhance welfare. Although it focuses on larger animals, the general principles should be relevant to any animal and are nicely summarised. The chapter would have been even better had it included more practical descriptions of how training should be implemented.

As a researcher exclusively using mammals, I was unaware of the wealth of knowledge that exists about the welfare of fish, so the zebrafish chapter was especially enlightening. It gives a very comprehensive review of the potential needs of zebrafish that no doubt extends to all other captive fish species. It is well-balanced as it additionally highlights the great deal of information that is currently lacking that could potentially help us improve fish welfare. It is therefore a very valuable resource for any researcher wishing to begin research using fish.

For obvious reasons there is a huge volume of research literature involving laboratory mice. However, much of this information is model-specific. Rarely does one find such a condensed and handy source of material on the general care and welfare of mice as is found in Chapter 8. It gives an informed account of the methods currently available to enrich the lives of mice and the methods available to determine whether those enrichments have been effective. Akin to Chapter 7, it also recognises gaps in current knowledge regarding the assessment of the emotional lives of mice. As such, it provides a platform for future evidence-based research into how laboratory housing and experimentation likely ‘affect’ mice and compromise their welfare. Further, it provides a comprehensive summary of the emerging evidence that non-aversive handling of mice can improve the validity of research findings and helps to dispel the myth that these newer handling methods are incompatible with the large-scale use of mice in terms of husbandry commitments. The issue of whether standardisation, rather than heterogenisation, is the culprit in what many have called the current ‘reproducibility crisis’ in biomedical research is also addressed.

In Chapter 9, Joanna Makowska presents a detailed description of the natural history of the second most utilised laboratory mammal, the rat, and how this knowledge can help us to improve their captive experience. It continues the general theme that animals that are treated optimally provide better, more translationally relevant findings. It again provides a condensed and easy-to-read source of material to consider when animal carers attempt to provide an optimal laboratory experience for rats.

The final chapters concern lesser-used animals in terms of total numbers, rabbits, dogs, primates, and pigs. As biomedical researchers, veterinarians and carers, many of us probably feel we already appreciate how complex the behaviour of these species can be. However, I found I was unaware of many of the potential husbandry issues affecting laboratory-housed rabbits; so this chapter was particularly informative; for example, how dominance hierarchy in rabbits can impact upon their welfare. I learned that so long as subordinates have the opportunity to escape it is perfectly acceptable to permit rabbits to display dominance behaviours, and that human intervention in this scenario is more, rather than less, likely to induce aggression and wounding.

Although relatively few biomedical scientists and animal carers will encounter dogs as part of their working lives, no doubt a very great many will have dogs as pets. Chapter 11 focuses on the importance of treating dogs as individuals and how interactions with dogs can provide a unique opportunity to create an especially strong human-animal bond. It explains how this bond can be utilised to enrich both the dog’s life as well as their handlers, and so ensure the largest possible numbers can eventually be successfully re-homed. It provides an invaluable source of information about the optimal way to treat dogs whether that be in the laboratory or the home.

Even fewer of us will have experience of research using non-human primates, but in Chapter 12 we find a comprehensive insight into the natural history of various NHPs and an informative description of different primate methods of communication, both with humans and conspecifics. The section describing how to find the perfect partner for a macaque was particularly fascinating. Overall, it continues the theme of welfare refinement by limiting stress exposure, providing the animals with means of controlling their own exposure to it. For example, by providing access to friends as well as the ability to avoid any dominant or unfriendly individuals. It was also excellent to read not only about the many forms of enrichment that act as effective refinements, but also those that do not. The description of how to implement training was precisely what I had hoped to find in Chapter 6; providing a series of real-world step-by step instructions on how training should proceed.

In chapter 13 we hear about how social a species pigs are, and how failure to appreciate this can have a very large influence on their behaviour and physiology, thereby impacting on their welfare and the quality of research findings. A detailed description of the ideal housing arrangements for laboratory pigs is provided. The importance of having rigorous habituation and training protocols is reiterated, and a nice clear description is provided about how a training protocol can be developed.

In summary, Animal-centric Care and Management is a book that generally strikes an excellent balance between the provision of detailed recommendations concerning methods of welfare enhancement without relying too heavily on the readers prior knowledge of the basic concepts.


Russell WMS and Burch RL 1959 The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique. Methuen: London, UK

Johnny Roughan,
University of Newcastle, UK

Asking Animals: An Introduction to Animal Behaviour Testing

BL Nielsen (2020) Published by CABI Publishing, Nosworthy Way, Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 8DE, UK. 192 pages Hardback/Paperback (ISBN: 978-1789240610). Price £82.74 (hardback), £32.25 (paperback).



The stated aim in the Preface of this neat little textbook is “….to inspire the animal experimenter to think about what a given behavioural test can be used for and how the results can be interpreted.” As such, its focus is on the practicalities of conducting behavioural tests and upon general considerations in experimental design, providing much needed closing of a gap in texts on practice in behavioural testing. The format of Nielsen’s book emulates the classic ethologist’s ‘Bible’ on recording behaviour (Martin & Bateson 2007), being purposefully short, digestible and focused in recognition that her audience have limited time, even where intentions are best.

The brief first chapter clearly states the scope of the book, so the reader is very clear what they are getting. Nielsen explains that the text is not intended to be a comprehensive reference for all possible behavioural tests, rather a ‘taster menu’ with specifically selected examples. She makes no apologies for this, nor the general exclusion of insects to focus on sentient vertebrate species managed by humans in relation to legislated welfare protection. Understandably, given the text’s aim, neither does the book cover statistical analysis. Chapter 2 provides background by introducing a sketch of non-test observations of behaviour, covering normal changes in behaviour with time and situation, and some examples associated with locomotor and feeding behaviour. These are all factors which may alter responses during tests if not controlled for and revisited in later chapters as appropriate. In this respect, brief additional mention of spacing, and expansion on social behaviour could also have been valuable here, although these are addressed in later chapters. Chapter 3 focuses broadly on principles affecting test selection, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of testing compared to non-test observation, the importance of mapping experimental design and test validity to desired goals and constraints that might limit test-use in terms of practicalities, costs and presumably even habit. Chapters 4 to 10 subsequently address a selection of themes of investigation, including animal characterisation, choice and motivation, detection and discrimination, learning and memory and more. Within themes, various examples of tests which can be used are discussed along with some practicalities and pitfalls. Specific scientific examples covering a breadth of species and disciplines are provided for illustration and to engage even the experienced reader with something potentially new. Whilst potential snares are highlighted throughout these chapters, Nielsen expands upon these and introduces further considerations in Chapter 11, before broadening the narrative into ethical considerations in Chapter 12 and ending with brief discussion of the use of technology in behavioural assessment in Chapter 13.

In terms of the structure and content of the book, the definition of behavioural test might appear quite broad. I didn’t feel that all the chapters on behavioural testing themes were equally intuitive, although this may well be my own prejudices showing. The first few chapters and Chapter 9 focused more clearly on specific types of tests, whilst Chapters 7 and 10 felt to me a little more confused between the tests themselves and evidence in general that tests could be affected by age, treatments and genetic aspects. This information is important, but perhaps these chapters could have been sequential and/or incorporated more ‘signposting’ of intention for the uneducated like me. In the same vein, I was not quite sure how reinforcement and punishment, whilst absolutely essential to understanding the operation of certain tests and their limitations, were tests in of themselves.

Nielsen writes with an engaging and accessible conversational style which unmistakeably conveys her self-declared personal fascination with these topics and invites the reader into her perspective. She notes very early on (pp 2–3) “how rarely methods and behaviour knowledge are transferred between scientific disciplines” and that approaches to the same behaviour test across disciplines may be very different, impacting upon respective data interpretation and thus collective synthesis of information. The evident implication is that these existing differences also offer the opportunity, with knowledge exchange, for researchers in different disciplines to think more deeply about how tests are utilised, conducted and interpreted and how they may be refined. Nielsen’s style often feels like a chat over coffee and this non-aggressive and authoritarian approach is extremely apposite to achieve the stated intention of opening eyes and minds to possibilities. Each chapter is furnished with a comprehensive reference list so that the initiated can begin to delve further into their new area of interest at their leisure. However, this approach does not mean an absence of critical review. Rather, sharp insight is conveyed in a nicely balanced way without overloading the reader to the point that no test seems worthwhile, instead tending to build across chapters, particularly in relation to experimental design. I find this is particularly important with students who may be prone to initially assume there is only one single way to conduct a study or that any disadvantage associated with a method should result in avoidance of its use. Despite regular disclaimers by the author on comprehensiveness I did very occasionally find myself wanting a little more. For example, I felt there was scope to include something on the impacts of the animal’s control of exposure to stimuli in some of the tests and I would have valued some more depth on validity, reliability and sensitivity. This said, my criticisms of this book are really nit-picking and I feel that overall Nielsen does what she sets out to do very well. The text and style will appeal to undergraduate and postgraduate students and early career researchers, and it is certainly a book I will recommend to my own. It would also be of benefit to more experienced researchers, and its succinct nature facilitates this, but I do wonder how much this will depend on ‘preaching to the converted’, where some may not feel the need to read a book on what they perceive they are doing daily. For me, this segues nicely into consideration of the animal welfare implications.

Nielsen mentions the ‘3 Rs’ in Chapter 12 and references the National Centre for Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animal in Research (NC3Rs) as an excellent resource for further information, which indeed it is. However, the application of the 3Rs to animals was first originated by UFAW-commissioned and funded work (Russell & Burch 1959), so it is fitting to expand a little on the text’s relevance to these principles here. In my experience Refinement is often the ‘poor relation’ of the other ‘Rs’, with funding emphasis instead increasingly placed on advances in replacement. Whilst few would argue this is incredibly important, it is hard to see any near-future situation where no research involving animals will be conducted. Some research questions the complexities of the whole animal and we are not yet in a position to be able to sufficiently replicate this. As argued by Nielsen, we therefore have a moral responsibility to continue to try to improve the welfare of animals that are still used and she cites the EU Directive which requires just that, “using the latest scientific developments” (EU Directive 2010; p 33, para 6). Refinement of existing procedures is often seen as something that should be done ‘in-house’ as part of normal procedures, but this can be constrained by time, resource and risk and norms can be hard to challenge when efficient, reliable procedures produce results. Nielsen’s text provides a challenge to some well-established procedures which use animal models for research benefitting humans. Likewise, she highlights some examples of ingenious refinements that can support ethical review and regulatory bodies in making recommendations and inspire researchers to change practice although, again, I wanted more. Nielsen’s position as a researcher with experience in both neuroscience and welfare science research lends credibility to her voice and her hope that she can effect change. Equally, her cautions on experimental design and traps for the unwary invite the robust behavioural tests needed for effective Reduction. The text also underpins generation of good scientific evidence to influence improvements in welfare more broadly. Although Nielsen avoids much mention of invertebrates, robust behavioural tests are also required to evidence sentience in species outwith current legislative protection, for example the recent interest in decapod crustaceans and whether they should be protected in the same way as vertebrates. ‘Degree of sentience’ is also of course relevant to Replacement of animals considered more complex with animals considered less complex. The sorts of tests that Nielsen describes could potentially provide evidence to close the complexity gap, as good only as the current knowledge available. Finally, it has been argued that asking the animal, in terms of decision-making tests, could provide the ‘gold standard’ for animal welfare (Barnard 2007), thus the standard against which criterion validation could be determined for all other welfare indicators more feasibly used in the field. Since this standard itself depends on the animal understanding the ‘question’ asked and on the validity of data interpretation, Nielsen’s text may contribute to raising the standard of animal welfare research more broadly by providing guidance on how best to ask questions and gain robust data. One final suggestion I have for future editions is that the text would lend itself nicely to an associated online resource of video-examples on ‘how to’ and ‘top tips’, particularly in view of the increasing move to blended learning strategies in higher education and following the Covid19 pandemic. Certainly, I can imagine using it extensively in my teaching. In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this text as a valuable, accessible and concise launch point for understanding and improving behavioural testing across disciplines and species.


Barnard C 2007 Ethical regulation and animal science: why animal behaviour is special. Animal Behaviour 74: 5-13

EU Directive 2010 Directive 2010/63/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22nd September 2010 on the protection of animals used for Scientific Purposes. Official Journal of the European Union 1.276: 33-79

Martin P and Bateson P 2007 Measuring Behaviour: An Introductory Guide, Third Edition. Cambridge University Press: Cambridgeshire, UK

Russell WMS and Burch RL 1959 The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique. Methuen: London, UK

SM Abeyesinghe,
Royal Veterinary College, UK

Dogs: Understanding Your Very Best Friend

J Bradshaw (2021). Published by Andersen Press 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA, UK. 128 pages Paperback (ISBN: 978-1839130878). Price £6.15.



It was a funny but interesting book and I loved its character. I especially liked the chapter 'Walkies', it was particularly fascinating and amusing. The part about smell and dogs body behaviour was good, interesting and important to know. I would definitely recommend this book to my friends at school and to other children of my age.

Dee Friggens (Aged 9),
Monkokehampton, UK

Broiler Chickens: Welfare in Practice

A Butterworth, I de Jong, J Mench, L Berg and M Raj (2021). Published by 5m Publishing, 8 Smithy Wood Drive, Sheffield S35 1QN, UK. 164 pages Paperback (ISBN: 978-1789180152). Price £14.95.



This book is one in a series of practical books on the welfare of farm animals. It sets out to inform broiler farmers, poultry vets, stockworkers, poultry smallholders, and agricultural students about the factors that affect commercially reared broiler chicken welfare. The aim is to produce a book that is useable around the world, although the book is largely based around European laws regarding housing, killing, and welfare monitoring (in part because there are laws in Europe, of course). The authors use evidence from scientific publications, but the information is written in a concise way for the ‘layperson.’ The book is laid out logically, starting with the welfare of broiler parent stock (broiler breeders), to hatching of chicks, housing and management influences, health and disease impacts, on-farm killing of broilers (from embryos to slaughter age), how to assess welfare in broilers, and future improvements to broiler welfare. The authors are all experienced research scientists who have studied broiler welfare first-hand, and are therefore well placed to write such a book. In addition, they provide their email addresses so that anyone can reach them directly, should you so wish!

The first chapter, on broiler breeder welfare, is a great introduction on what is required to produce broiler chicks, and the welfare challenges faced by the parent stock. Production period housing is described, although the section on page 7 about colony cages seems to include a lot of general information about feeding and drinking systems that apply to any type of housing system. The figures are helpful and aid understanding.

The chapter on hatchery welfare provides a good insight into risks to chick welfare at this discrete phase of their lives. Generally, the figures were useful, however their reference in the text is sometimes odd; for example, referring to eggs stored for too long references to Figure 2.8, a photo of chicks in a hatcher tray, and a sentence on food and water deprivation leading to increased mortality references to Figure 2.9, a photo of chicks. Neither of these particularly illustrates the text. The section on dealing with unwanted chicks would have benefitted from cross-referencing with the chapter on on-farm killing, as they overlap. The insights into the effects and risks of automation were eye-opening, but the section on light would have benefitted from telling the reader how providing light during incubation affects fear responses (reduces or increases?)

Chapter 3 describes how housing and management can influence broiler welfare. This is an informative section describing the different methods of broiler housing and key management factors that can influence broiler well-being, such as litter quality, air quality, and environmental enrichment. Again, the figures are useful and clearly illustrate the housing methods and litter quality, although I challenge anyone to get a good photograph of dust! Close-ups of the various types of enrichments shown in Figure 3.7 would have been beneficial for readers, with the current photos being too small or the enrichments too far in the background.

Chapter 4 explains the main diseases of broiler chickens, whether they are due to management, growth rate, or infectious reasons. This provides essential knowledge for the reader about causes and prevention, although defining peritonitis, endocarditis and septicaemia (meanings, clinical signs) would help further. The section describing on-farm killing for some types of diseases would again benefit from cross-referencing with the chapter on on-farm killing, as they overlap (however, a bit of repetition is fine, particularly as people may read some chapters and not others…).

Chapter 5, regarding on-farm culling and emergency slaughter, describes the methods that can be used to kill broilers, with useful accompanying illustrations, although it has a Euro-centric feel due to its heavy reliance on European law, so should be borne in mind when used as a reference elsewhere. As a text on broiler welfare, it could further guide the reader by providing a reflection on each measure’s relative welfare pros and cons, such as time from application to loss of consciousness.

Chapter 6 explains the importance of welfare monitoring of broilers, not only to satisfy legislation and quality assurance schemes, but as a source of information for the farm regarding areas of improvement. It discusses three assessment methods and their pros/cons, such as time to collect the data and their reliability. Understandably, because the assessment methods require training and/or careful understanding by reading the full texts/websites that describe them, further information is required before someone could apply the methods, but this chapter will at least lead the reader towards the right sources, should someone choose to find out more.

Finally, Chapter 7 reflects on how broiler welfare can be improved in the future by focusing on three major areas (breeding/genetics, housing and feeding, and management/care), and reminds those people working directly with the birds on a day-to-day basis of the large influence they can play on broiler welfare.

Unfortunately, the Foreword by the series editor was presumably based on an earlier version of the manuscript, as the chapter references are incorrect, but this does not detract from the book overall. This, along with some other minor edits (for example, in p 7 the top two sentences talk about transport from the production farm to the rearing farm, and group sizes on the rearing farm, but this is surely the wrong way around?) can easily be incorporated into the next edition.

This is a useful book that will be a good reference for anyone working directly with commercial broiler chickens, of all types (slow and fast growing) and in all housing systems. By understanding welfare influences described there, its readers will appreciate how to drive positive welfare with the birds they come into contact with.

Victoria Sandilands,
Ayr, UK

Changing Human Behaviour to Enhance Animal Welfare

Edited by R Sommerville (2021). Published by CABI, Nosworthy Way, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 8DE, UK. 208 pages Paperback (ISBN: 9781789247237). Price £35.00, €40.00, $US47.00.



Changing Human Behaviour to Enhance Animal Welfare comprises chapters from a range of different authors and organisations. Each chapter provides that author’s experience and take on an animal welfare issue or situation, and provides useful, real-life case studies. The examples include a wide range of issues, from dancing bears to laboratory rats, as well as a range of contexts and locations across the globe, providing the reader with a holistic view of the animal welfare issues which arise from human-animal interactions. The contributors to the book are experts in their field and deliver a range of interesting and authoritative voices.

The book makes the point that animal welfare can only be improved through working with people, and — importantly — through understanding the context within which those people live. It is clear throughout the book that working in the field of animal welfare is really a human-centric role, and hence understanding people is key to bringing about change. Whether the change is in relation to elephant tourism, broiler welfare, or anything in between, the book clarifies that simply telling people to do things differently will not bring about change, because the animals are a component within complex and integral systems. While this is the message throughout each chapter, it is particularly well-described in Chapter 2, ‘Animal welfare, the human element’ which gives an overview of the importance of human behaviour change science and its application to animal welfare. Throughout, the book’s authors give examples of bringing about change through a range of methods: ongoing community engagement, education, legislation, policy, and many other methods; all based on a foundation of sound research into the issue at hand. A useful table (pp 14–17) gives examples of different methods of bringing about change, and the subsequent chapters provide relevant examples.

Importantly, this book helps to bridge the gap which is often present between research around an animal welfare issue and the changes to real-life (eg campaigns or interventions) which might improve animal welfare. Given that research and campaigns are often undertaken as entirely distinct activities, this book emphasises the need to use research to understand the context and structural factors behind each issue, before using that research pragmatically to bring about change. For example, one case study (Chapter 11), described a previous failure to bring about change in recognition of equine pain in a community despite an intervention. Subsequent research identified a previously overlooked health provider to whom community members were turning for advice, and a structural issue in relation to stocking of pain relief. Once these issues were better understood, the intervention was adapted and subsequently successful. Another important feature mentioned in this case study and throughout is the discussion of the importance of monitoring and evaluating projects to ensure that they have achieved their aim.

There are some particularly interesting and useful aspects covered by the book; for example, a particular highlight was Chapter 4’s in-depth exploration of the role of, and methods for, community engagement in relation to animal welfare projects. This chapter explores ways of learning from and working with communities collaboratively and positively, including means of characterising the community, applying behaviour change models, and planning an intervention from start to finish.

This book does not aim to provide a step-by-step or practical guide to researching human behaviour issues around animal welfare, but rather provides an introductory view of the interconnection between human lives and animal welfare. The text gives as much information on the animal welfare issues themselves, compared to the human behaviour and how it can be changed. Those already familiar with the field of human behaviour change concepts might expect information on topics such as habit formation, human psychology, behavioural economics, or changes to the physical environment to influence human behaviour; these are mentioned relatively fleetingly. However, the relevant and numerous case studies provide such practical examples and insights into real-life application of behaviour change science and, as such, this book provides an excellent introductory overview to the link between human behaviour and animal welfare.

One particularly enjoyable feature in this book is the inclusion of many authors’ background, and information about their life as an animal welfare practitioner. This provides depth to the narratives and examples provided throughout each chapter and may be of particular interest to students or those earlier in their careers, as they explore the range of possible approaches and journeys in animal welfare.

In summary, this book will be an enjoyable and informative addition to the bookshelf of any student or practitioner who works in the field of animal welfare, whether research- or intervention-based. Readers will certainly find themselves equipped with an interesting range of ideas and tools with which to carry out their future work.

Tamzin Furtado,
University of Liverpool, UK


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