Meanwhile …

29 09 2014

… the review of enrichment and stereotypic behaviour I wrote with Ros, Sophie and others has consistently been in AABS’s Top Three Downloads since it came out in 2007.

Unlike Becky we’re not in the Top 10 cited since 2009 : ( But Google Scholar says it has been cited 178 times overall, and you gotta love that.

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Congrats to Becky!

29 09 2014

Her terrific review of ‘observer ratings‘ is one of Applied Animal Behaviour Science’s top three papers for cites since 2009!

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Mystery Scientist has taken my note…

29 09 2014

… (I checked today), so now I just have to hope he or she gets in touch and maybe even fancies a collaboration … (NB this is not usually how you find collaborators).

Happy anniversary Sylvie!

29 09 2014

The OVC Animal Welfare Forum means it’s now two years since Jamie found Sylvie wet and bleeding on a busy road. And here she is now:


OVC Animal Welfare forum

29 09 2014

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 10.01.29 AMAndrea & Misha went to the OVC Animal Welfare Club’s forum this year, and here is their excellent overview:

Jackie Wepruk from NFACC gave a brief history of the codes of practice for farm animals and how the development process has expanded to include greater input from the scientific community, industry and public. She also acknowledged the issue of variability in managing the same welfare issue across different species (e.g. stricter requirements dealing with castration in horses compared to pigs). Her talk concluded with a quote illustrating NFACC’s consensus based philosophy. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Robert Laidlaw from ZooCheck offered a contrasting perspective. He argued that a consensus-based approach can be a slow and painful process when the system being reformed is fundamentally flawed. He focused on the zoo industry’s biggest problem: designing and building enclosures that reflect more of an aesthetic appeal to the public rather than fulfilling the animals’ needs. Thus, he concluded that the paradigm of zoos needs to change: they need to put animals’ needs as their first priority. This has made him a controversial character within the zoo community, not a consensus builder!

Dr. Scott Petrie persuasively argued the value of hunting for economic, ecological and social reasons. In some cases, his presentation was more advocacy oriented than scientifically founded (e.g. hunting doesn’t make people prone to violence because Nelson Mandela hunted). At face value, he made convincing pro-hunting arguments, but it may be wise to seek a second opinion (or better yet –evidence) before propagating his entire message!

Overall, there was a recurring theme in many of the talks about the value of providing animals with a natural life. Dr. Patricia Turner described how there has been an increasing movement to retire laboratory primates into natural-like refuge facilities. Jackie Wepruk explained that naturalness of farm environments is becoming an issue of focus, mainly a result of public perceptions that natural is better. Dr. Scott Petrie boasted the moral superiority of hunting over animal agriculture, arguing that hunted animals have a higher quality of life. Lastly, Rob Laidlaw looked to the natural ecology of zoo animals to inform the design of their captive environments.  Very little scientific evidence exists on the importance of nature in animal welfare; however, this year’s CSAW forum suggests that there is a perception among scientists and the public that it is relevant to animals’ quality of life.

Would like to meet…

27 09 2014

For ages Mike and I have been interested in assessing telomere length in our mice as they start to age, to see if anxiety and/or low exercise promote this marker of aging in the non-enriched animals. However, we’ve not known where to start or who to try and collaborate with: its’s so beyond what I normally do.

teloThis afternoon I went to get something off the printer at work, and there on the neighbouring table, where print outs are left for collection, was a paper on measuring telomeres AND next to it, a protocol! I had no idea whose these were (nor had I known that anyone in APS did this sort of work), but finding them seemed like amazing luck. I wrote the mystery scientist a note in the hope of meeting up. It’s like arranging a very, very nerdy blind date.

Postcard from Carole

25 09 2014

Moral: It’s TOUGH moving to a new country, no matter how much you wanted to (great news about the cat though).


Wed, Sept 24th

Weight: unknown (better, jeans says I might turn into a skeleton soon); number of bathrooms at my place: 2, number of bathrooms with non-broken dial, tub without cracks, tape not leaking: 0, number of emails / call to the letting agency to get a plumber coming: 8 (3 days harassing them); plumber saying he will come and fix (ouiiii!)… but never popped into place: 1; number of weeks since I applied for parking permit: 2; number of parking permit obtained: 0; number of times I need to turn bills or too small pennies into coins for parking machine (so that I can avoid fines until permit arrives): once-twice a day (annoying); number of fine: 1 (but due to plumber supposed to come so I could not leave my place and go to the closest pub / shop to get coins); number of UK bank card: 1 (yay); account balance: 0£; online access to bank account: none (but due to fucking password supposed to be arrived since weeks and idiot from bank forgetting re-mailing it); IBAN ID so that I can transfer money from France (ideally BEFORE having to pay letting fees): unknown (available online); internet at home (although not helpful for bank problem due to above-mentioned lacking password, but helpful for plenty of things like telling Georgia I’m late on the horse paper): none (no way to get Internet set up with 0£ balance); hours spent working on the horse paper: not enough to be done, number of asking for a delay to the editor email I will write: 1, number of times over the last days feeling miserable / as incompetent as people from letting agency or plumber / bad friend not giving news / bad daughter not giving news / bad researcher being working on neither horse paper nor memorat project: insanely too high to be reported (but due to particularly nasty premenstrual crisis, which – phew – eventually ended!); scheduled meeting with landlord: 1 (this morning); insomnia due to thinking of pros and cons of each argument about getting the cat in: 1 (never ending); number of cats allowed to stay in without need of giving any of the above-mentioned arguments: 1!!!!!

xx Carole Jones

Woo hoo!

24 09 2014

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Rowe Farms Open Day

22 09 2014

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Unless you drive for 45 mins to Whole Foods in Mississauga, the supply of welfare-friendly animal-based food products is pretty limited in Guelph, and Jonathan and I tend to rely on Rowe Farms. But while they offer “quality with a conscience”, their welfare standards are hazy and not accredited by anyone, so when they had an open day on Saturday, Tina, Derek and I jumped at the chance.

If we had imagined quizzing them on their analgesia regime at castration and their adherence to NFACC Codes, or telling them earnestly about CSAW while handing over newsletters (these stayed in the car: good call Tina!), that soon evaporated as we found ourselves sitting on a trailer of hay bales between small, excited, balloon-holding children, bouncing across the fields to be shown a pond, a pile of rocks, an electric fence, and (at last) the bucolic sight of a calmly grazing herd of cattle.

It was borderline surreal — yet also a lovely afternoon out in the sunny countryside, and not a wasted one either: we did meet the mythical John Rowe, so hopefully there will be more chance of a real connection in the future.


Shut up and pet me!

22 09 2014

New research shows dogs really do like to be petted (but sweet talk in baby voices? meh).

Abstract here: