New publication: Sow-Piglet Nose Contacts in Free-Farrowing Pens

Students from the IMHAI course at Vetmeduni observed the interactions between the sow and her piglets. Nose contacts occurred frequently between sows and piglets in the free farrowing pens and differed between ‘first-time mothers’ and older sows. The results have been published in the Open Access journal Animals


Animals 2019, 9(8), 513; 1

Sow-Piglet Nose Contacts in Free-Farrowing Pens

Katrin Portele, Katharina Scheck, Susanne Siegmann, Romana Feitsch, Kristina Maschat, Jean-Loup Rault and Irene Camerlink

Contact: Irene Camerlink



New publication: The Effects of Play Behavior, Feeding, and Time of Day on Salivary Concentrations of sIgA in Calves

Investigating a possible relationship between positive emotions and immune functioning in calves, we focused on secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA). We detected a circadian rhythm of sIgA concentrations, with lowest levels at 14:00 h. sIgA concentrations were decreased directly after feeding, possibly due to increased saliva flow rates, and we did not find higher sIgA concentrations after play, thus not supporting sIgA as an indicator of positive emotional states.



Animals 2019, 9(9), 657;  2

The Effects of Play Behavior, Feeding, and Time of Day on Salivary Concentrations of sIgA in Calves

Katrin Spiesberger, Stephanie Lürzel, Martina Patzl, Andreas Futschik and Susanne Waiblinger

Contact: Stephanie Lürzel



New publication: Effects of Ground Floor Type on Selected Health-Parameters and Weight of Rabbits Reared in Group Pens

Comparing pen-housing of growing rabbits in a commercial setting on perforated plastic flooring vs. concrete floor with straw-bedding, there was found a higher percentage of rabbits with clean fur on straw, no significant differences in parasitic burden, mortality, pathological alterations or causes of loss, and higher slaughter weight in rabbits reared on slatted plastic floor.


Animals 2019, 9(5), 216; 3

Effects of Ground Floor Type on Selected Health-Parameters and Weight of Rabbits Reared in Group Pens

Ines Windschnurer , Susanne Waiblinger , Stefan Hanslik , Andrea Klang , Fehim Smajlhodzic , Michael Löwenstein and Knut Niebuhr

Contact: Ines Windschnurer



Poultry Welfare Scientist - Research & Teaching position available for 1 year at the ITT, deadline Sept 30th

We are looking for a motivated person to strengthen the animal welfare science team. Your role will focus on conducting poultry welfare research, and supporting teaching on farm animal welfare. The Institute has good working relationships with the poultry industry and veterinarian community enabling science-based solutions to problems related to poultry welfare, health and husbandry. You will have unique opportunities to develop your own research, with collaboration and networking possibilities.

Vacany 4



10th ÖTT Conference


The 10th ÖTT Animal Welfare Conference took place on 2th May 2019 at the Vetmeduni Vienna. The motto of the conference "About the quality of life of animals" was highlighted in 12 lectures of animal science, veterinary, ethical and practical perspective for livestock and pets. More than 200 participants followed the excellent presentations by experts from the entire German-speaking area and discussed them intensively.


The proceeding can be found here 6.


New book publication on human-animal-relationship - with ITT involvement

Interactions between humans and animals occur in completely different circumstances, from the care of one's own livestock or pets to interactions with wildlife.

For the first time, the book "Anthrozoology - Human-Animal Interactions in Domesticated and Wild Animals" presents our knowledge on human-animal interactions in all these contexts and deals with the effects on humans and animals. Susanne Waiblinger of the institute first of all addresses the importance of farm animals for humans in the chapter "Agricultural animals" before focusing on human-livestock interactions and human-livestock relations. It provides a comprehensive overview of the importance of animal welfare, underlying mechanisms and causes of differences.

This book is available at: 7


What do veterinarians and veterinary students think about measures to improve animal welfare in veterinary practice?

The results of this study that was conducted in Austria at the end of 2015 / beginning of 2016 were recently published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior.

The results showed that the participating veterinarians basically have a positive attitude to measures such as low-stress handling and that their assessment of the importance and feasibility of the measures is sometimes even higher than that of veterinary medicine students. This difference could be due to positive practical experience. 8



New part of the accompanying study on the Viennese stray cat project “Welfare of feral cats and potential influencing factors"

As part of the accompanying study on the Viennese stray cat project 2014-2017, animal-related and environmental welfare indicators on feral domestic cats were examined in managed colonies. The health indicators sickness behaviour, body condition score, condition of fur coat, injuries and general health state have proven to be reliable and valid welfare indicators, as correlations with colony characteristics such as group size, number of cats per feeding site, sex and neuter status of the cats, as well as with care characteristics such as percentage of clean feeding places, were found. In colonies where treats and/or milk were offered on a regular basis, more cats approached within close proximity to their caregiver, compared to colonies where no treats were offered.

Articel “Welfare of feral cats and potential influencing factors” von E.M. Gilhofer, I. Windschnurer, J. Troxler und V. Heizmann: Journal of Veterinary Behavior 30 (2019) 114-123

Corresponding author: Ass.-Prof. Veronika Heizmann



The ITT changes name, 5-year research strategy established

At the turn of the year 2018/2019, the name of the institute changed from "Institute of Animal Husbandry and Animal Welfare" to "Institute of Animal Welfare Science". The purpose of this measure is to highlight the field of research and to clarify the scientific aspect of the work. Furthermore, the current and future research activities of the institute are described in the "Research strategy" 9 for the years 2019-2024. This document serves as a source of information for anyone interested, highlighting the key scientific strengths and priorities of the ITT.

Of course, education and training remain an important part of the institute, and we will continue to provide expertise and other services!


"Be kind to others: Prosocial behaviours and their implications for animal welfare"

New review paper from the ITT shows farm animals can help each other, suggests prosocial behaviours can be positive welfare indicators. Full paper freely accessible at: 10


Animal Shelter Meeting 2018


On 20.10.2018 the 1st Animal Shelter-Meeting took place in the lecture hall A of the Vetmeduni Vienna.
Around 150 animal health workers, veterinarians, students and interested people took part in the event, organized by Dr. Christine Arhant and Dr. Ines Windschnurer (Institute of Animal Husbandry and Animal Welfare). They did not only learn about animal welfare on a scientific basis in the course of many informative lectures, but also had the opportunity to speak directly with experts in this field from home and abroad, such as Dr. Nadja Affenzeller, Dr. med. Irene Bruckner, Dr. med. Giulia Cimarelli, Dr. Ing. Barbara Schöning and the organizers. The event was moderated by Mag. Karin Bayer, manager of the Clever Dog Labs. We thank you for your interest and your participation and look forward to follow-up events!



European Veterinary Congress of Animal Behavioural Medicine and Animal Welfare: "Enhancing animal behaviour and welfare - through optimising human behaviour change" – September 2018

From 27.-29.September 2018 this year's Veterinary Congress took place in Berlin.

Our institute was represented by four participants who gave the following presentations:

Annika Lange: "Talking to cows: Reactions to playback and ‘live’ talking during human-cattle interactions" 12

Ines Windschnurer: "Associations of caretaker attitudes with alpaca behaviour" 13

Christine Arhant: "Prescription of psychotropic drugs for dogs during New Year´s Eve by Austrian and German veterinarians and their attitudes to noise aversion" 14

Susanne Waiblinger: "Nociceptive threshold of goat kids undergoing injection of clove oil or isoeugenol for disbudding - a preliminary study"


Claire Toinon

Claire Toinon 15 is working on prosocial behaviours in farm animals, under the supervision of Prof. Jean-Loup Rault.
She graduated in agronomy from the Engineering school ENSAIA (French National Graduate School of Agronomy and Food Industry). She showed an early interest in animal welfare, and conducted two internships, at the University of Guelph (Canada) on feather pecking in laying hens with Alexandra Harlander and Patrick Birkl, and at Aarhus University (Denmark) on the relationship between lameness and touch-test results in broilers.


Hunde Uni Bern - Juli 2018

The “HundeUniBern”s team members are the behavioural biologist Dr. Stefanie Riemer, the veterinary specialist in behavioural medicine Dr. Maya Bräm and the biologist Annika Huber, MSc. The HundeUniBern is part of the Unit “Animal welfare” of the Vetsuisse faculty of the university Bern and deals with basic and applied research in behaviour, cognition and emotions of pet dogs. To celebrate its foundation a two day workshop with international experts in the field of companion animal behaviour science took place in April 2018. Dr. Christine Arhant of the Institute of Animal Husbandry and Animal Welfare of the Vetmeduni Vienna presented her work in a talk called „Supervision of child-dog interactions – implications for dog-bite prevention“.

Link zum Workshop 16


Editorial Board of the Nature journal Scientific Reports

From June 2018 Irene Camerlink 17 has joined the Editorial Board of the Nature journal Scientific Reports. If you have a manuscript related to animal behaviour or animal welfare that you like to submit to Scientific Reports then you can indicate her as suggested editor. 


Jason Yee

Jason Yee 18 is working on prosocial behavior with a focus on developing neuroimaging capacities in farm animals for application to the study of animal welfare.

He spent the last 5 years dually appointed as a research scientist at the Center for Translational NeuroImaging at Northeastern University (Boston, MA) and The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University (Bloomington, IN). During this time he developed neuroimaging in prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster), a socially monogamous and biparental rodent, as a social neuroscience platform for better understanding the neural basis of complex social behaviors. He received postdoctoral training at the University of Illinois at Chicago from C. Sue Carter and Stephen Porges in behavioral neuroendocrinology and psychophysiology, respectively, with projects centered around the role of oxytocin in regulating body and brain during stress. He received his doctorate in Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago (USA) working on affiliative social reciprocity, mammary tumorigenesis, and lifespan with Martha McClintock, as well as sex differences and behavioral consequences of immune activation with Brian Prendergast.  


Information to Animal Hubandry