‘Mercy for animals’ pig farm video

22 12 2012

We watched this video in ‘Behaviour group’ last week (‘Behaviour group’ is the weekly lunchtime event for all the UoG welfare student and faculty):


Some awful stuff, though as we discussed it’s important to disentangle the ‘looks awful but is probably OK’ (killing piglets by bashing them on the head – looks truly brutal but done well is about as good as it gets), from the ‘it is awful, but it’s also reality folks’ (the practices that are bad for pigs but perfectly legal), from the ‘this farm is appalling and deserves an expose’ (Abu Ghraib style cruelty and mockery). This could be what it takes to make the general public understand where their food comes from (and hopefully rebel). I am therefore a huge fan of this type of undercover work. It’s not illegal, and even better, Mercy for Animals worked to get some great media coverage by W5 / CTV – much more effective than just releasing the vid themselves: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/w5-report-sparks-investigations-into-manitoba-pig-farm-1.1072729.

Seattle NPR interview

22 12 2012

Zoo elephants were news in Seattle this week, due to a piece in the Seattle Times on their persistent failures to reproduce: http://seattletimes.com/flatpages/specialreports/elephants/glamour-beasts.html (sad that this is regarded as news — doesn’t everyone know this by now? — but hey). As part of the following news cycle I was interviewed on the NPR show ‘The Conversation’, and here it is:


It was live, and I had absolutely no idea what they were going to ask me about (they gave me zero clues!), so I was incredibly well prepared for a bunch of questions that didn’t come up, and a bit surprised by the ones that did, but it’s not bad.

Art or mink enrichment?

17 12 2012

Jonathan and I were at Art Basel Miami Beach last week. It was hard not to look at this abstract sculpture and imagine how much mink would love it.

are or mink EE?

No such thing as too many puddings

15 12 2012

We had our group Christmas party last week. Not everyone could make it, but from left to right you can just about make out Carole, Mike, Misha, Misha’s partner Gwen, Jamie, Becky, Jeanette, Agata and Maria.

Our slightly odd menu was one starter, one main course, and then seven (yes, seven) desserts followed by special Polish candies. It was pretty great, even if we do all get diabetes: hey, it’s Christmas!!!

Happy about my healthy H index

15 12 2012

Just calculated my H index and it’s about twice what I thought it was! (H index is the no. of publications one has that have each been cited H or more times; so right now I have 28 publications that have been cited 28 times or more)


Stupidity in science

15 12 2012

Becky ran our last stats class on Thursday. Over the last few weeks she’s run six for me, on everything from power tests to how to create good figures, with Maria and Jamie chipping in to help too. The final ‘Fun with stats’ class involved two great papers. One was Douglas Johnson’s “The insignificance of significance testing” (though we all had the skip the bit on Baysian stats). The other was Martin Schwartz’s “The importance of stupidity in science”, which I wish I’d written myself, or at least had known about earlier so I could give it to give to every new grad student: it’s a gem. Here is how it opens… Screen shot 2012-12-14 at 11.14.22 PM

… and here is a link to the whole thing:


Trying to understand statistics

11 12 2012

Nice find from Maria!


Mixed colourtype experiment at Kirk’s farm

11 12 2012

Jamie has been mixing colourtypes to see if this would be a good way of manipulating play (it was). Maria took this picture of two of his animals at Kirk’s last week: a Black female with a big cuddly Pastel male. They look adorable (but you still wouldn’t want to stick your finger in there…)

Our first 2013 paper comes out!

11 12 2012

We just got the preprints for Dana’s BBR paper, showing that enriched-reared male mink are less perseverative…a very nice treatment effects, though it didn’t correlate with stereotypic behaviour, showing this type of change in behavioural inhibition really is not the whole explanation for stereotypic behaviour (we suspect differential motivation plays a major role too)

Screen shot 2012-12-11 at 10.23.52 AM

Congrats to Jamie and levitating baby

3 12 2012

Congratulations to Jamie for being awarded a Keyes Family graduate scholarship, while the energy from his and our department chair’s linked hands simultaneously summoned up the ghost of a small toddler. This all happened at a college ceremony and dinner last Wednesday evening.