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Working group leader

DMV Janja Sirovnik Koscica, PhD.
T +43 1 25077-4906  

Main focus

This research group works on fundamental aspects and applied sides of animal welfare science with the focus on poultry.

The applied research is used to search for suitable management and housing practices of poultry with the specific focus on laying hens and broilers. We study the effect of management – especially human-animal relationship – and housing conditions on affective states, behaviour, physiology, health and production.

Progress in improving animals’ quality of life is currently limited by the lack of objective and integrative methods for assessing it. With chicken as a model species, we collaborate with other working groups within the institute and inside and outside the university to study novel indicators of animal welfare, such as telomere length and behaviour assessed with precision livestock farming (PLF). We research cumulative and interrelated effects of positive (e.g., enriched life) and negative life experiences (e.g., barren housing conditions, exposure to stressors and disease) on telomere length, affective state, and behavioural changes.

Research Projects

  • Telomere dynamics as an indicator of cumulative lifetime experience in domestic chickens
  • Keel bone fractures on Austrian commercial layer and layer parent farms: prevalence, risk factors and productivity
  • The impact of training for the judgment bias test on chicken welfare (collaboration with the BOKU)
  • Validation of telomere measurement techniques in various chicken tissues
  • Range use in broiler chickens on cumulative welfare assessed by telomere length (collaboration with the University of New England)
  • Long-term welfare implications of on-farm hatching in commercial layer chickens (collaboration with the Bern University of Veterinary Medicine)
  • Telomere length as a measure of chicken adaptability to transfer from a rearing to a laying facility (collaboration with the SLU)
  • Effect of dark brooders on activity level and synchronisation of behaviour in layer pullets (collaboration with the Aarhus University and Leading Edge Research, Australia)