Biomarkers Offer Potential as Animal Welfare Indicators

Jul 26, 2021

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Research underway at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine is expected to result in new methods for assessing the health and wellness of pigs. Scientists at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine are working to identify and quantify observable characteristics in pigs that can indicate animal welfare.

Dr. Yolande Seddon, an Assistant Professor of Swine Behaviour and Welfare with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Swine Welfare, says biomarkers can provide a measure of health and wellness.

Clip-Dr. Yolande Seddon-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:

Biomarkers is short for biological markers. The are essentially observable characteristics that can be objectively measured and therefor we're looking for quantifiable characteristics of biological processes that can be use to represent whether an individual is in a state of good health and well being.

Biological markers can be physiological processes, it can also be a behavior. With regards to the research that we're currently looking at, we have focussed our attention to look at chronic measures that could tell us about animal welfare over a longer period of time and we are looking at the measurements of cortisol as a hormone involved in the stress response and an additional hormone, dehydroepiandrosterone or DHEA for short and the ratio when measured in hair.

The value of measuring it in hair is that, as the blood is circulating around the body, these hormones are deposited into the hair shaft as it grows providing us with a sort of longer-term measurement over a period of time of how these hormone levels have been circulating.

Source : Farmscape

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