Animal behaviour, welfare and ethics research
Massey University has expertise in practical, science-based and ethical advice, education and solutions to animal welfare and behaviour problems and for bioethical analysis and education.
We promote the humane and responsible care of animals, both in the wild and in captivity through scientific research and education. We also work on ethical principles to guide human-animal interactions and biotechnology.
We promote the humane and responsible care of animals through scientific research and education. This work goes across a broad range of animals from lifestock to pets, feral animals and wildlife – both living in the wild and in captivity. We conduct bioethical analysis, develop methodology for welfare assessment and develop bioethical principles to guide human-animal interactions.
Companion and production animal behaviour
Research into factors impacting behaviours of companion and production animals such as cattle and sheep, and developing techniques and strategies to mitigate problem behaviour.
Development of animal alternatives for research
We promote the development and application of the Three Rs (reduction, refinement, and replacement) in research, teaching and testing and are working on the development of computerised substitutes for animals used in veterinary training.
Domestic animal welfare science
Investigations into the welfare of domestic animals – both captive and feral.
This includes the handling of livestock and management of wild horses.
Ethical animal treatment
The assessment of the bioethical acceptability of different management practices.
We examine the ethics of animal use in research, teaching and testing, make ethical appraisals of new biotechnologies and analyse the ethical dimensions of welfare problems and technological developments.
Massey University researchers are investigating the impact of capture, captivity and handling, evolution, human contact, rehabilitation and relocation on the behavioural patterns, survival, reproduction rates and ongoing welfare of wildlife, with a focus on New Zealand native wildlife.
Pain and stress alleviation and endrocrinology
Our research expertise is in animal responses to stress across a broad range of vertebrate animals, with a focus on non-invasive methods.
This includes expertise in endocrinology – individual variation in corticosterone and cortisol stress responses, endocrine and behavioural responses to stressors.
Veterinary social work
The four areas of veterinary social work are: grief and loss, animal-assisted interactions, links between human and animal violence, and compassion fatigue management. Our research focuses on developing a greater understanding of how social work knowledge can contribute to the practices of veterinary and/or animal welfare professionals, and enable them to better manage adverse events (eg, animal cruelty and child abuse), interact with difficult clients, and work effectively in teams to reduce burnout and compassion fatigue.
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Antler removal and deer welfare
Evaluation of analgesia of the pedicle and antler. This resulted in best practice for analgesia of the velvet antler. An additional study concerns the factors contributing to the death of stags under xylazine sedation for the purpose of antler removal.
Developing a new way of measuring animal pain
A new device designed by engineers and veterinarians at Massey University seeks to change the way we understand and manage animal pain, starting with sheep. The research team worked with Massey’s engineering expertise to develop a device which is better for animal and researcher. It transmits data via wifi and is lighter and more comfortable for the animal.
Secret sex lives of stick insects
Massey University researchers have discovered more about the sexual lives of stick insects in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
The research draws from two papers led by Professors Mary Morgan-Richards and Steve Trewick of Massey’s School of Agriculture and Environment. The papers discuss stick insects from Taranaki heading over to the United Kingdom, New Zealand stick insects rediscovering sexual reproduction and the male stick insects’ inability to tell the difference between asexual and sexual females through scent.
The raw and the carved: Shipping costs and ivory smuggling
This research aimed to determine causes of a dramatic increase in elephant poaching in the late 2000s in Africa and Asia. Using a fixed panel-data regression model, Dr Brendan Moyle showed that shipping costs, especially for large shipments, were correlated to smuggling levels. Other factors include global interest rates, which motivate stockpiling by criminal organisations.
Dr Moyle was an external scientific expert on the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report into wildlife crime and this research project was used within that report.
Research has discovered that tui have a language with over 400 syllables. The discoveries came during a broader project to identify strategies for effectively managing tui habitat in our expanding urban environment. As well as identifying over 400 syllables, related research recorded 373 distinctly different songs in 2.4 hours of audio recordings.
Welfare management standards for slaughter plants
Commissioned by: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF)
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) approached the Centre to assess the suitability of its welfare management standards for the age, nutrition and health of these calves.
We worked with a major slaughter plant to investigate how calves coped with early weaning, transport and fasting. Most could cope with transport for 12 hours and fasting for 30 hours without distress.
In another study, the majority of 7000 calves that arrived at a slaughter plant in Whanganui coped well with transport and lairage (animal handling facilities), provided these met MAF and industry standards. This work was repeated with similar results in Australia.
Our studies show that industry standards are sufficient to guarantee the welfare of calves destined for slaughter.
Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre
The Centre focuses on animal welfare in a diverse range of human-animal interactions. This includes the use of animals in research, teaching and testing, on farms, in the home, for sport, recreation and entertainment, in service roles, in zoos and the wild, and in other arenas.