Recent advances in animal welfare science VII

crowd of chickens

UFAW Animal Welfare Conference

University of Birmingham
1st July 2020 (date to be confirmed)


The field of animal welfare is a cross-disciplinary area of study that seeks to offer guidance and find solutions to the challenges raised by our caring for and interactions with both kept and wild animals. As part of its on-going commitment to improving animal welfare through increased scientific understanding of animals’ needs and how these can be met, UFAW is holding the seventh of its series of one day conferences on ‘Recent advances in animal welfare science’ on 1st July 2020.

This regular meeting, which will be held in Birmingham, the city which hosted the first of these meetings, aims to provide a forum at which the broad and growing international community of scientists, veterinary surgeons and others concerned with animal welfare can come together to share knowledge and practice, discuss advances and exchange views.



Call for papers:

We would like to hear from anyone interested in making a contribution to the conference on the subject of recent advances in applied ethology, veterinary and physiological science and the other disciplines that inform our understanding of animals and their welfare.

We hope that this meeting will feature talks and poster presentations from both established animal welfare scientists and others and from those at the beginning of their research careers. Submissions should feature the title of the proposed contribution, the preferred nature of the contribution – talk or poster, the name and full contact details of all contributors and an abstract. The abstract must be in English and should be no longer than 400 words. Further details about formatting and submission can be found here. Time allocated to talks at the meeting is likely to be in region of 20 minutes, which includes time for questions.

The deadline for submission of abstracts is Friday 29th November 2019. Please send a copy of the abstract by email to Stephen Wickens @

Conference timetable

  • Deadline for submission of abstracts – 29th November 2019
  • Notification of decision of judging panel on submitted abstracts – by 14th February 2020
  • Deadline to accept offer to contribute to the conference – 13th March 2020
  • Deadline for receipt of amendments to accepted abstracts – 15th May 2020
  • Start of conference - 1st July 2020 at 9.00am. Finishes at 5.30pm.


As part of UFAW’s commitment to providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and to ensure that the meeting is accessible to widest range of those with an interest in animal welfare, we always try to keep the registration fee to attend this conference as low as is possible, this time at £63. Note: This price includes refreshments, including on arrival, and lunch.

To register, all delegates must pay the registration fee and complete and return a registration form. A registration form can be downloaded here.  Registration can also be made on-line but a place will not be reserved until payment has been made in full. Click here to register on-line.

Confirmation of registration

When registering on-line an email confirming receipt of payment will be issued immediately. In addition, a letter confirming registration and a receipt will be posted to the contact address given on the registration form within two weeks of making payment.


The conference is being held at the University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK. Registration, lunch and poster presentations will take place in The Great Hall and talks in the Aston Webb building (R7 – C Block). The university is served by it’s own railway station ‘University Station’, a 10 minute trip from Birmingham New Street Station and numerous car parks.

Travel information and downloadable maps on how to get to the University of Birmingham campus can be found here and a map of the campus here.


Delegates are responsible for booking their own accommodation. We have reserved rooms for delegates at two hotels on the University of Birmingham campus: the Edgbaston Park Hotel (£90 per night including breakfast) and the Lucas House Hotel (£70 per night, including breakfast), both a 10 minute walk from the conference venue. To book accommodation at either please email or call +44(0)121 414 9779 and quote booking reference ICAW2020. (Please note that these rooms are held for delegates at these rates only until 19th May 2020).

Birmingham also has many other hotels, bed and breakfasts, etc to suit every budget. Links to these can be found visiting (NB The University is situated in the Edgbaston area of the city but there are good travel links eg with the Bullring/Central area and Chinese and Jewellery Quarters of the city too).

Terms and conditions:

  • Full payment of the fee must be received before a delegate can be registered.
  • Only delegates that are registered can attend the conference.
  • Registration is for an individual, not an institution, and is not transferable, unless this has been agreed in advance with UFAW. Failure to comply may result in such individuals being denied entry to the meeting.
  • In the event of circumstances arising beyond the charity’s control, UFAW reserves the right to cancel this symposium at its discretion without incurring any liability in respect of such cancellation and to return to delegates any monies received. Delegates who cancel their bookings within 4 weeks of the start of the conference will not have their registration fee refunded. Prior to this, refunds will be discretionary and will be returned less any handling fee and costs incurred.
  • UFAW cannot accept liability for personal accidents, nor for loss of, or damage to private property of delegates, either during or directly arising from attendance at the conference. Delegates should make their own arrangements with respect to health and travel insurance.

Visas and other entry requirements:

All attendees from outside Britain are responsible for making sure they have the correct documentation to enter the country. Before you travel, please consult the UK government website: and follow the advice given. You can check whether you need a visa here:

Confirmation of involvement in the UFAW conference and other supporting documentation

Applications for visas and other travel documents may need to be supported with an official letter confirming that the conference will take place on the dates declared and/or that you are a contributor. This can be provided by UFAW on request - please email Dr Stephen Wickens ( Please note such letters in support of a visa will only be issued to persons who have submitted an abstract to the meeting and have had it accepted or who have paid the registration fee to attend.

Contact Details:

Dr Stephen Wickens, Bham20, UFAW, The Old School, Brewhouse Hill, Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, AL4 8AN, UK.

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



Abstracts should be formatted as follows:

Talk / Poster


AB Authorone 1, CD Authortwo 1 , EF Authorthree 2 and G Authorfour 1,2

1 Department of Animal Welfare Science, University of Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, UK

2 Department of Applied Animal Welfare, University of Brewhouse Hill, Ontario, Canada

Abstracts should be written in English and not exceed 400 words, excluding the title and the authors’ names and addresses, which should be formatted as above. Please use Microsoft Word for Windows when submitting an abstract. Text should be in Calibri 10 pt font.

The title should be centred and in bold capital letters (as above). Authors who have contributed to the abstract should be identified using their initials and surname and centred under the title in bold upper and lower case. Superscript numbers (eg 1) should be used as necessary to indicate each author’s institutional address. Institutional addresses should be centred and in title case, with superscript number used to link them with author(s) as necessary. Each address should start on a new line. The email address of the main author to be contacted with regard to the abstract in italics should follow. A blank line should precede the text. The text should clearly and concisely outline the main findings or premise without reference(s) to other text or paper or to future findings. It can include graphs or tables but must fit on one side of A4.

An example of how to format an abstract from a previous meeting can also be seen by clicking here.

Please send a copy of the abstract by email to Stephen Wickens @ by Friday 29th November 2019.

If you wish to present a poster rather than a talk, please indicate this at the top of the submitted abstract.

Example of formatted abstract


J Espinosa 1, JA Dallaire 2 and GJ Mason 1

1 Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

2 Department of Comparative Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA

To ensure good or excellent animal well-being, we need objective welfare indicators that are sensitive to positive affective states. Could some forms of play behaviour be useful, valid tools for this job? Researchers wanting to test this hypothesis by validating play behaviours as indicators of positive affective states must overcome two major challenges. The first is that the term ‘play’ covers a heterogeneous group of behaviours, such that data from one form or species cannot be directly applied to another form or species. The welfare significance of each type of play must therefore be validated de novo on its own merits (and furthermore, we already know that some forms of play actually increase rather than decrease in animals and humans in aversive situations). The second challenge is that identifying conditions that induce absolutely positive states in animals (rather than merely relatively positive states) is surprisingly difficult. To do this, we need clear, objective ways to operationalize ‘pleasure’, ‘happiness’ or ‘contentment’ in animals; and furthermore, we then need to be able to experimentally induce differing degrees of positive affect to assess empirically whether these influence play. The vast majority of welfare-oriented play research has not done this, but instead has compared animals in sub-optimal environments (e.g. those in isolation, or housed in small barren cages) with animals in better ones. However, despite the general lack of relevant data, two possible forms of play have plausibly been shown to be sensitive to positive affective states in animals: rough-and-tumble play in rats and locomotor play in piglets. Given this, and also given the great need for indicators of ‘positive animal welfare’, we will discuss how future validatory research could constructively build on these two intriguing cases, including highlighting some welfare-relevant qualitative aspects of human play that so far have been over-looked in animal play research (e.g. the degrees to which play behaviour is ‘fragmented’, oscillating between non-play and play activities). We hope our guidelines will pave the way for more rigorous validatory research, some of which might then identify qualitative or quantitative aspects of sub-types of animal play that do indeed indicate positive affective states.