Course code HET201

HET201 Applied Ethology and Animal Welfare

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Showing course contents for the educational year starting in 2018 .

Course responsible: Ruth Catriona Margaret Newberry
Teachers: Knut Egil Bøe
ECTS credits: 10
Faculty: Faculty of Biosciences
Teaching language: NO
(NO=norsk, EN=Engelsk)
Teaching exam periods:
This course starts in the Autumn parallel session. The teaching and evaluation for this course occurs in the Autumn parallel session.
Course frequency: Annually
First time: 2003H
Course contents:
There will be lectures 2-4 hours/week on social behaviour, animal-human interactions, maternal behaviour, behavioural development, ethological needs, animal welfare concepts and indicators, animal emotions and motivations, behavioural disorders, the Norwegian Animal Welfare Act and regulations, and behaviour of the main agricultural species. There will be small group practical exercises on behavioural observation at the NMBU Centre for Animal Research, and herd welfare assessment at commercial farms. After each exercise, group members will prepare a short presentation and discuss their data in the light of relevant subject material from HET201. Written group reports will be submitted for evaluation. The structure and scope of the exercises will be adapted according to the number of students in the course.
Learning outcome:

General learning objectives: After completing the course, students will have basic skills to understand the most important ethological mechanisms underlying farm animal behaviour and welfare. Students will have knowledge about normal behaviour and how this is affected by stress, frustration and fear. Students will have a basic understanding of animal ethics and be able to participate in animal welfare discussions using ethological knowledge. This fundamental course in ethology provides students with an understanding of how knowledge about ethology and animal welfare can be applied in practice after completion of studies.

Knowledge: Students will be able to describe and explain the main concepts in applied ethology related to social behaviour, maternal behaviour, behavioural development, individual differences, behavioural time budgets, ethological needs, animal emotions and motivations, behavioural disorders, welfare concepts, welfare indicators, animal-human interactions and animal welfare law and regulations. Furthermore, students will be able to describe and explain normal behaviour, the most important behavioural and welfare problems in cattle, pigs, poultry, sheep, goats, mink and fox, and offer solutions to welfare problems. Horses, dogs and cats are not covered, but the course provides important background for ethology teaching on these species in HFX221, HFH224 and HET320. The course provides further important background for topics in HET210, HET300, HET301 and HET303.

Skills: Students will be able to read and understand ethological subject matter in English. Furthermore, they will be able to apply the concepts in applied ethology to the interpretation of an animal's welfare level and be aware of the limitations of such interpretations, as well as pointing out appropriate measures to improve animal welfare. Students will also be able to critically evaluate arguments concerning the animal welfare presented by animal owners and animal welfare organizations. Students will also have experience in the systematic observation of the behaviour of an animal species.

Reflection: Students will learn the various ethical considerations behind the requirements for animal welfare. Furthermore, students will understand the importance of ethology in the establishment of animal welfare regulations. After completing the course, students will have an understanding of the complexity of behavioural biology and understand the importance of gaining further expertise in ethology if this subject features prominently in their future career goals.

Learning activities:
Lectures will be given on the main concepts in applied ethology and animal welfare. These topics are discussed with application to the main agricultural animal species in student-organized colloquia for which students read relevant literature in advance. Questions for discussion are provided by the instructors. Students work in small groups on practical assignments including behavioural observations and herd evaluations, and deliver presentations and reports on their findings.
Teaching support:
In addition to the lectures, the instructors will supervise the practical exercises conducted in small groups. An overview of the course will be provided at the start of the course.

Jensen, P. (Ed.), 2009. The Ethology of Domestic Animals An Introductory Text, 2nd Edition, CABI, Wallingford, UK. Chapters 1-9, 11-13.

Styringsgruppen for Dyrevelferd - forsknings- og kunnskapsbehov, 2005. Forskningsbehov innen dyrevelferd i Norge. Rapport fra Styringsgruppen. Norges forskningsråd, Oslo NO. ISBN online version (pdf) 82-12-02157-2. Chapters I4-11, III1-7, VIII1.

Norwegian Animal Welfare Act and Regulations,

Relevant scientific journal articles and reports.  

Recommended prerequisites:
Mandatory activity:

Animal-human interactions: Students will work in groups. Each group will give a brief summary of the impacts of positive and negative handling procedures on animal behaviour, welfare and production of animals based on 3-5 scientific articles. The results will be presented to the other students. The group's presentation must be approved in order for the group members to sit for the exam, but is not graded.

Reports on behavioural observations and herd welfare assessment must be submitted in Canvas by the deadline in order to be allowed access to the final written exam.


Behavioural observations: In small groups, students will conduct behavioural observations on cattle and small ruminants in the NMBU research herds. The observations will be made at different times in relation to animal feeding times. Note that it is necessary to have been in the country for at least 48 hours before entering a Norwegian livestock facility. A detailed review of biosecurity procedures will be provided. Results will be presented to the class.

Herd welfare assessment: Students will work in small groups to conduct a herd welfare investigation. The farm excursion will take most of the day, and participants must have been in Norway for at least 48 hours prior to the farm visit. Results will be presented to the class.

Group reports on the practical exercises aimed at skills-development (behavioural observations, herd welfare assessment) will count for 30 % of the final grade. The group reports must be submitted in Canvas for grading. Differing contributions to group exercises may lead to unequal grades among group members.

A comprehensive final examination covering knowledge of all course topics will count for 70 % of the final grade. The final exam will be a 3-hour written exam, with no calculator or other aids.

All graded activities must be passed to pass the course. Longitudinal assessment: A - E / Not passed.

Nominal workload:
The total student workload will be 300 hours. A suitable distribution of time would be: Lectures and reading of course literature: 150 hours. Colloquia, including preparation: 25 hours. Practical exercises with reports: 100 hours. Studying for the exam: 25 hours.
Entrance requirements:
Reduction of credits:
Type of course:
4 hours of lectures per week; remainder group work.
The course is taught partly in English, partly in Norwegian.
The course coordinator discusses course design with the external examiner. The external examiner assesses a selection of the written examinations.
Allowed examination aids: A1 No calculator, no other aids
Examination details: Continuous exam: A - E / Ikke bestått