It is 10 years since the Black Saturday Victorian bushfires which claimed the lives of John and Jenny Barnett along with so many others.
This week, we remember John, Jenny and all affected on and after that terrible day.
John’s main area of expertise was stress physiology and its application to the study of domestic animal welfare. His research over 30 years provided a timely balance on discussions within science and the livestock industries on welfare
methodology and interpretations and the impact of his research continues to improve animal welfare methodology.
John’s research on pigs and poultry made a critical contribution to our understanding of the welfare risks associated with confinement housing, highlighting the major risks of confinement that arise from spatial and social restriction.
He worked extensively with the livestock industries in developing welfare components of livestock industry QA programs and in assisting to achieve improvements in awareness and practices to safeguard animal welfare standards.
His outstanding scientific efforts have been highly acclaimed nationally and internationally by both science and the livestock industries and animal welfare science has greatly missed his important contributions.
Jenny was a researcher with the Victorian National Parks Association, completed work on mammal counts, endangered species and fuel-reduction burning, which she supported in the state's national parks. She was also a voice for the environment, tirelessly campaigning on wildlife issues in the media.
A global review of the international scientific literature around pig welfare has been completed by the Animal Welfare Science Centre (AWSC) at the University of Melbourne.
The review, funded by Australian Pork Limited provides recommendations and future research suggeastions for welfare issues relevant to the Australian pig industry ahead of the development of new Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Pigs.
The review can be downloaded here.
Advanced Biotechnologies to Improve the Welfare of Farm Animals
Since the 1950s, farm animal breeding has incorporated many new technologies to enhance food production. With the most recent introduction of technologies for genome editing, animal breeders now have another tool to improve not only performance, but also to address important traits related to health, environmental sustainability and animal welfare.
In this public seminar, which will be accessible to both scientists and members of the general public, we will learn about some new technologies that are being used in the livestock sector. RSVP before Feb 11 to email@example.com
The AWSC, University of Melbourne is leading an Australian Research Council Linkage project aimed at improving pig welfare by modulating stress resilience.
Project partners include the University of Queensland, the University of Vienna, the US Dept of Ag, Australasian Pork Research Institute Limited, SunPork Solutions and Rivalea Australia. ARC funding for the three-year project, ‘Early stress experiences and stress resilience in pigs’, was $450,000 with an additional $449,393 cash from the partners.
Paul Hemsworth, Animal Welfare Science Centre, The University of Melbourne, and Alan Tilbrook, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, The University of Queensland, said the project would examine stress resilience in pigs and generate knowledge on early life management to endow stress resilience in pigs, with expected benefits for their welfare, health, productivity and subsequent farm profitability.
“Modern pig farming is a major source of food, providing substantial nutritional, social and economic benefits for Australia and the world,” Professor Hemsworth said. “Animal welfare is of increasing concern to the public, consumers and pork producers and stress vulnerability is an animal health and production problem in the life of the commercial pig.”
Project investigators are Professor Paul Hemsworth (The University of Melbourne); Professor Alan Tilbrook (The University of Queensland); Dr Jeremy Marchant Forde (USDA - Agricultural Research Service, USA); Associate Professor Roger Rassool (The University of Melbourne) and Professor Jean-Loup Rault (University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna).
The investigators agree that prior stressful experiences early in life may strengthen an animal’s resistance to subsequent stressors.
Professor Hemsworth said reducing farm animal stress would have substantial economic and social benefits, because stress reduced animal welfare, productivity and health. “Importantly, public animal welfare concerns can dramatically affect welfare-based purchasing decisions and curtail farm profitability and the continued use of specific animal practices,” he noted.