Lesley Stubbings, an independent sheep consultant and a key contributor to OvertheCounter, is one of six researchers whose work will be helped by the Animal Welfare Foundation. She has been awarded a grant from the AWF’s Norman Hayward Fund for her project on improving the welfare and longevity of rams in commercial sheep flocks.
“Sheep farmers have a saying that the ram is ‘half the flock’, yet our knowledge of the challenges to the health and welfare of rams on commercial sheep farms is sparse,” said Lesley. “This funding will enable us to establish the main factors associated with losses and the costs involved, and will allow us to start looking for ways to improve the longevity and welfare of this vital group of animals.”
Laura Green, from Warwick University; Karin Mueller, Liverpool University and Katherine Hughes, Cambridge University have also been awarded grants for research in the livestock area. Laura’s project centres on developing an online lameness recording system for sheep farmers, Karin will focus on establishing a knowledge base on lameness in beef cattle and Katherine is researching inflammatory mammary gland lesions in cattle and sheep.
The other two projects relate to equine work. Maria Lopez-Alvarez, from the Animal Health Trust, is working on equine cell lines and Diana Williams, from Liverpool University, is researching the impact of liver fluke infection on the welfare of horses.
Chris Laurence, AWF chairman, said: “One of our charitable aims is to raise the standards of practical animal welfare, which is why we fund several projects annually that have the potential to make a real difference to the way we understand various welfare aspects for horses, cattle and sheep. This year’s recipients show a great range and depth in their research topics and we look forward to some interesting outcomes that will improve the day to day lives of the target species.”