Advancing animal welfare science: How do we get there? - Who is it good for?

crowd of chickensUFAW International Symposium 2019

Site Oud Sint-Jan, Bruges, Belgium
3rd - 4th July 2019



Animal welfare science advances are needed to inform decisions on the care and legal protection provided for animals. This two day international symposium will explore two major themes:

1) Developments in animal welfare science that are likely to extend our understanding of animals’ needs or how to assess animal welfare or sentience. This symposium will provide an opportunity to present on new and exciting developments in animal welfare science methodologies and new findings that will inform animal welfare care or use.

Photo: ãPhil Heneghan

2) While the primary ethical case for being concerned about animal welfare is the presumption that some animal species have feelings and that those feelings matter to them, benefits to humans are often put forward as reasons for improving animal welfare. Examples include: an improved product for farmed animals, better models for animals used in research or animals more likely to survive and breed successfully if released into the wild for the zoo community. However, it is also the case that animal welfare and human goals and interests are not always linked.


With the above themes in mind, the purpose of this symposium is to:

  • Learn about new and exciting innovations and methodologies in animal welfare research and arising from research into sentience in animals.
  • Explore and test the extent of the idea that human and animal interests go hand in hand with improved welfare.
  • Investigate areas of animal use where there are particular challenges to improving animal welfare.
  • Identify new methodologies, approaches and technologies to improve animal welfare that have or could be used to address these challenges.

By considering whether and how animal welfare science can be used to make progress in these and other areas, our aim for the symposium is to develop and raise awareness of new ideas and to promote higher quality and better-focused animal welfare science.

The symposium will include both talks and poster presentations, and will feature the following keynote presentations:

  • Professor Linda Keeling (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden) Assessing animal welfare: biology, methodology and technology
  • Dr Joseph Garner (Stanford University, USA) From expediency to necessity: Why science without welfare thinking isn’t science worth doing
  • Dr Hans van de Vis (Wageningen Livestock Research, The Netherlands) Challenges associated with assessing and improving the welfare of farmed fish

Biographies of these keynote speakers and abstracts of their talks can be found here

In addition, the symposium will feature 29 talks from other speakers. A full list of speakers can be found here. Confirmed poster presentations for the symposium can be found here.  The Symposium timetable can be downloaded here.

The meeting will be of interest to the growing international community concerned with animal welfare and to those working on biomedical research, food animal production, slaughter and companion animal rehabilitation, captive wild animals, conservation and policy makers.

Symposium timetable

  • Deadline for submission of abstracts – 7th December 2018
  • Notification of decision of judging panel on submitted abstracts – by 1st February 2019
  • End of early registration fee –  before 1st March 2019
  • Deadline for receipt of amendments to accepted abstracts – 17th May 2019
  • Start of symposium 3rd July 2019 at 9.00am
  • End of symposium - 4th July 2019 at 5.10pm



The symposium is being held in the UNESCO world heritage city of Bruges, Belgium. Bruges is one of the most well-preserved medieval towns in Europe and because of the number of its canals is sometimes referred to the Venice of the North.

The venue for the symposium is Site Oud Sint-Jan, which forms part of a complex of buildings that include the 12th century medieval Hospital of St John (Oud Sint-Janshospitaal), one of Europe's oldest surviving hospital buildings. Other parts of the former hospital complex include the Hans Memling museum, where a number of the artist’s works are displayed as well as hospital records, medical instruments and other works of art.

A reception will also be held at the De Halve Maan brewery on the evening of the 3rd July, when delegates (and partners who have booked) will be able to sample a range of their locally produced beers.

There will also be a reception at Bruges’ gothic City Hall the evening before the symposium, 2nd July, for delegates who arrive early, where delegates will be welcomed by a City Alderman. Places for this are free but limited and will be allocated on a first come basis.

Registration and accommodation details

The registration fee for the symposium is £325 (with a reduced rate of £255 available to delegates who register before 1st March). A limited number of subsidised places are also available to students, veterinary nurses or those who are unwaged who wish to attend the symposium at £155. These will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. To book a subsidised place please contact the symposium organiser Dr Stephen Wickens.

The registration fee includes attendance, lunch and refreshments over the two days and a drinks reception on the evening of 3rd July.

To register contact the UFAW office on +44 (0) 1582 831818.

We have arranged a range of different accommodation in Bruges, to suit all budgets. Click on this link for further details.

Background to UFAW:

The Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW), the international animal welfare science society, is a UK registered scientific and educational animal welfare charity. The organisation brings together the animal welfare science community, educators, veterinary surgeons and all concerned about animal welfare worldwide in order to achieve advances in the well-being of farm, companion, laboratory and captive wild animals, and for those animals with which we interact in the wild.

UFAW works to improve animals’ lives by:

  • Promoting and supporting developments in the science and technology that underpin advances in animal welfare.
  • Promoting and supporting education in animal care and welfare.
  • Providing information, organising symposia, conferences and meetings, and publishing books, videos, technical reports and the international quarterly peer-reviewed scientific journal Animal Welfare.
  • Providing expert advice to governments and other bodies and helping to draft and amend laws and guidelines.

UFAW is an independent organisation, and throughout its history its work has primarily been funded by donations, subscriptions and legacies.

Contact Details:

Dr Stephen Wickens, UFAW, The Old School, Brewhouse Hill, Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, AL4 8AN, UK.

Tel: +44 (0) 1582 831818; Fax: +44 (0) 1582 831414; Website:; Email: