The Animal Behaviour, Health and Welfare professorship conducts practice-oriented tasks. Its practice-oriented approach focuses on animal husbandry in the wider sense, but also on policy implementation and education.
The professorship uses an all-encompassing definition of animal welfare, offering relevance to the value of an animal as a subject but also as an object. We do not just benefit from animals, but we are also confronted with animal suffering and risks to our own health. In this context, animal welfare relates to different interests of people and animals, where conflicts of interests and values are inevitable. Animal welfare is not just a zoological matter consisting of biological knowledge and facts, but a social phenomenon, with values and basic attitudes of (groups of) people playing an important part.
The professorship has developed the expertise to separate facts from values in conflicts concerning animals, and to try to bring them together again. It aims to further develop this expertise and apply it in the context of the following three ambitious themes:
Working towards welfare
A general issue, regardless of animal species, is the problem that animals in captivity develop deviant behaviour as a reaction to being prevented from spending enough time looking for and consuming varied food that is suited to the particular animal. For an animal, working for food as a daily activity means working towards their own wellbeing. Within this theme, the professorship aims to develop instruments and techniques to improve working with reward systems. It intends to organise programmatic cooperation with animal practices, and with the top sector ‘Creative Industry‘ for product development.
Groups of animal keepers guard and improve the quality of animal welfare within their own system of values (relation or product). The professorship aims to further develop this form of self-regulation together with organised keepers and users in all sectors in such a way that animal practice can count on social recognition and a 'license to operate'. In order to achieve this, the professorship will commit itself to research of and participation in value analysis and conflict control.
Renewal of values
The professorship aims to open up possibilities for (social) innovation in ways of thinking and enable the application of knowledge from animal practice. The professorship links to the concept of 'workplace', but also emphasises the dialectics between the different parties without their (hidden) strategic agenda's. Within this theme, participation in social projects such as 'the Sustainable Dairy Chain' and 'All Meat Sustainable' is clearly in focus, as well as a link with the Dairy Campus, University Campus Fryslân and 'Sectorplan Noord: Schools for Ambitions'. The professorship also seeks constructive cooperation with adjacent professorships within and outside VHL University of Applied Sciences.