New publication: Positive Welfare and the Like: Distinct Views and a Proposed Framework

The team of the "Social Behavior" working group publishes a new publication in collaboration with Sara Hintze (BOKU): 1

Contact: Prof. Jean-Loup Rault




The website of the PLF-Hub, part of working group Pigs & Precision Livestock Farming, is now online and offers lots of detailed information. 2



Correction statement due to numerous caretaker messages after the topic of “stroking of new world camelids" was relayed by the media

The results in the current publication “Alpaca and llama behavior during handling and its associations with caretaker attitudes and human-animal contact” 3 should by no means be understood as an invitation to “simply start stroking” alpacas and llamas but, as experienced caretakers do, to build a good human-animal relationship based on trust and respect. New world camelids are not animals to cuddle, but in principle animals that stay at a distance. Respectful handling, which also requires knowledge of the behavior and way of living of these animals, is the basis for these animals to develop positive behaviors in the herd. It is vital to observe the animals’ behavior and to recognize their signals. This is particularly important for "crias"(juvenile alpacas and llamas), because as adolescents or adults they can be dangerous to humans due to biting, bumping, rising, etc., which can occur especially if they have not learnt to “respect” humans at an early age.



Improving Pet Welfare Award

 The publication “Attitudes of veterinarians and veterinary students to recommendations on how to improve dog and cat welfare in veterinary practice”; (Authors: Christine Arhant, Nicole Hörschläger, Josef Troxler) of the ITT Companion animal group received the Journal of Veterinary Behavior's Improving Pet Welfare Award.

The Companion animal group (Ines Windschnurer, Christine Arhant, Veronika Heizmann) deals in particular with the effects of attitudes and behavior of humans on the well-being of dogs, cats and small pets in different situations, e.g. in the veterinary practice, in animal shelters or at the animal owner himself. 

Award 4

Publication: 5



New publication: Salivary oxytocin in pigs, cattle, and goats during positive human-animal interactions

A new study from the ITT validated the measure of the hormone oxytocin in the saliva of cattle, pigs and goats. This new approach could further our understanding of how animals perceive interactions with humans. Full paper available at: 6

Contact: Prof. Jean-Loup Rault



Condolence Prof Knut Niebuhr



With great dismay we announce that Knut Niebuhr 8 passed away.

On February 1st, Knut Niebuhr peacefully fell asleep with his loved ones during the sunset.

We will miss Knut very much and will remember him as a razor-sharp thinker, recognized expert, courteous colleague, good friend and great person.

We want to express our heartfelt condolences and thoughts.




New publication: Farrowing prediction in Pens with Possibility of Temporary Crating

In this study, we developed a method to monitor sows’ behaviour on the basis of accelerometer data. The developed monitoring method provides a “first-stage“ alarm and a “second-stage“ alarm. On the basis of these two types of alarms a farmer can make a decision when to provide adequate nest-building material and when to confine a sow in a crate for protection of the piglets’ welfare.



Animals 2020, 10(1), 6; 9

Dynamics of Sows’ Activity Housed in Farrowing Pens with Possibility of Temporary Crating might Indicate the Time When Sows Should be Confined in a Crate before the Onset of Farrowing

Maciej Oczak, Kristina Maschat & Johannes Baumgartner



„S.U.P.E.R.“ Award 2019 to Ass. Prof. Dr. Johannes Baumgartner


The University Students' Representation (HVU) of the Vetmeduni Vienna honors with the S.U.P.E.R. (Student Award to Commend to Phenomenal Commitment) those faculty members who have been particularly involved in the concerns and advances of prospective graduates of Vetmeduni Vienna.

In 2019, the award for pre-clinic teachers went to Johannes Baumgartner from the Institute of Animal Welfare Science. The award ceremony took place as part of the Teaching Vets Symposium # 5 ( 11).

Many thanks to the students for the vote. This award makes us happy and proud. It is confirmation and mission at the same time.


Susanne Waiblinger appointed President of ISAE

In August 2019, the International Society for Applied Ethology (ISAE) elected Susanne Waiblinger, from the Institute of Animal Welfare Science at Vetmeduni Vienna, as its President.

After two years as Junior Vice President (2017-2019), Susanne Waiblinger now heads the ISAE, the only global scientific society for applied ethology, until 2021 as President. The ISAE provides a forum for sharing the latest insights into the behavior and well-being of domesticated and other man-made or managed animals. It is also an ISAE objective to promote the incorporation of these advances into practice, for example to improve animal welfare, food security and sustainable livestock production.

"It is a great honor for this society, in which the world's leading experts on the subject are gathered to preside as President. For several years now, ISAE has sought to expand and strengthen its activities in regions where applied ethology and animal welfare activities are not or only partially established. This is a special challenge, but it also makes the presidency particularly interesting, "says Susanne Waiblinger, saying that next year ISAE's annual international congress will take place in India for the first time.

Waiblinger studied veterinary medicine in Munich. After completing her doctorate at the University of Zurich, she conducted research at the ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich) in the field of human-livestock relationship and social behavior of cattle. In addition, she worked in several veterinary practices in Switzerland and Bavaria and in the official veterinary service.
Susanne Waiblinger is a veterinarian for Animal Husbandry and Animal Welfare as well as for Behavioral Science and Diplomate of the European College of Animal Welfare Science and Behavioral Medicine. She habilitated at the Vetmeduni Vienna in the field of Animal Husbandry, Animal Welfare and Applied Ethology. For 22 years now she works at the Institute of Animal Welfare Science, former I
nstitute of Animal Husbandry and Animal Welfare, at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna. There, Waiblinger heads the working group Ruminants and Human-Animal Relations.

Susanne Waiblinger is u. a. Chairperson of the Association for the Research on Animal Welfare (VEAT), member of the Veterinary Association for Animal Welfare (DVT) and Deputy Chairwoman of the Veterinary Surveillance Commission "Animal Husbandry and Animal Welfare" of the Austrian Chamber of Veterinary Surgeons. From 2000 to 2003, she served as regional secretary for the West Central Europe region for ISAE. German-speaking countries Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

The Vetmeduni Vienna congratulates and wishes continued success!
(Web editorial on 28.10.2019)


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; 12

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;  13

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; 14

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



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 16.


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: 17


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. 5



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" 18 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: 19


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" 21

Ines Windschnurer: "Associations of caretaker attitudes with alpaca behaviour" 22

Christine Arhant: "Prescription of psychotropic drugs for dogs during New Year´s Eve by Austrian and German veterinarians and their attitudes to noise aversion" 23

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


Claire Toinon

Claire Toinon 24 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 25


Editorial Board of the Nature journal Scientific Reports

From June 2018 Irene Camerlink 26 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 27 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.