BHE-31306 Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Individual Paper1
Field practical26
Group work6
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. B Beerda
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. JE Bolhuis
dr. ir. EAM Bokkers
dr. ir. B Beerda
dr. I Reimert
Examiner(s)prof. dr. M Naguib

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

BHE-20303 Animal Behaviour; HAP-21806 Behavioural Endocrinology


The course links concepts of animal behaviour to welfare issues in modern husbandry of productive and companion animals. Major questions of modern applied animal behaviour are addressed focusing on how the behaviours of animals determine and mirror welfare in a given environment. A review of affective states and concepts of animal welfare is provided, and human-animal relations are discussed as to provide insight in the ways husbandry animals respond to their captive environment. Theory on motivation and the organization of behaviour is given and translated into explanations why animals show abnormal behaviour, experience stress, and how this is regulated. The assimilated knowledge is applied in practical assignments on the assessment, evaluation and monitoring of animal welfare, and in writing about an ongoing welfare issue.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:

- explain how feeling and motivation drives behaviour;

- argue what animal welfare is about and what are its main determinants;

- develop a science-based welfare assessment protocol, originating from a theoretical framework on welfare, and formulating ways to validate candidate welfare indicators;

- write a fact-based opinion on the 'animal-side' of contemporary welfare issues;

- define animal welfare and state what mainly determines it;

- recognize if, and clarify why, domestic animals show poor welfare under certain keeping conditions;

- state species-specific behavioural needs and the consequences of frustrating these;

- explain on the basis of scientific findings how the human-animal relationship affects animal welfare;

- articulate the impact of behaviours on welfare based on its function (ultimate) and mechanism (proximate);

- construct a welfare monitoring system based on a theoretical framework, measuring protocol and set of welfare indictors;

- evaluate candidate welfare indicators for multiple aspects of validity, reliability and feasibility;

- verbalize weak and strong points of a given welfare monitoring protocol;

- write an opinionated science based assessment on how animals (likely) perceive / experience a situation where welfare is at risk.


Lectures, practical assignments (formulating a welfare monitoring instrument, validating candidate welfare indicators), writing an opinion paper.


A written exam with multiple choice and essay questions.

Grades on the performance and presentation of the practical group assignment, and the individually written opinion paper.


Handouts of lectures and accompanying scientific articles.

Restricted Optional for: MASAnimal SciencesMScF: Spec. F - Animal Ecology5MO
MASAnimal SciencesMScD: Spec. D - Adaptation, Health and Behaviour5MO