Institute of Neuroscience

Screening tool for chronic stress in livestock

Developing and validating a practical screening tool for chronic stress in livestock

The welfare of farmed animals is an important societal concern. However, measuring welfare is a very tricky thing to do. In this project, we are developing a novel marker of animal welfare in chickens.

Chickens are by far the most numerous farmed animal in the UK (and the world), and measuring their welfare will contribute significantly to the increase in farming welfare standards.

This project starts from the observation that chronic stress (and hence poor welfare) leads to a reduction of the incorporation of new neurons in the hippocampus of all animals studied to date. We are therefore developing new, practical methods to quantify adult hippocampal neurogenesis in post-mortem tissue which could be used to monitor welfare conditions of animals at the point of slaughter.

Newcastle University staff and students linked to the project:

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