NOVA & CVM PhD-course "Animal Welfare – From fork to farm"

Welcome to the NOVA & CVM PhD-course ‘Animal Welfare – From fork to farm’ 21.-24.11 2016!


The course is organized by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki. It considers different methods of animal welfare (AW) assessment on farm, how this is, or should be, reflecting consumer perceptions, how AW can be used in voluntary AW schemes and branding, and how AW is related to animal health and food safety.

This course considers animal welfare from an interdisciplinary view-point. We will discuss how consumer perceptions can influence animal welfare assessment and how animal welfare assessment schemes are defined and motivated. In addition, we will learn about how animal welfare can be used in voluntary industry-driven animal welfare schemes and as part of product branding. Animal welfare and animal health, as well as food safety are associated, and the direction of this association has implications for practical implementations of strategies to improve animal welfare. These associations will be discussed and evaluated during the course. On the final course day, participants will take part in the open seminar of the Welfare quality network, and learn about the most recent development within on-farm animal welfare assessment and its practical implications.

The course is subsidised by NOVA (The Nordic Forestry, Veterinary and Agricultural University Network) and Doctoral Programme in Clinical Veterinary Medicine (CVM) at the University of Helsinki.


The participants should have a basic knowledge of animal production and animal welfare. Students can be from any discipline (veterinary, animal science, biology, social science), as long as they are working with, or have a strong interest in animal welfare or health.

The course is free for the first 25 NOVA or BOVA students or specializing veterinarians. If more NOVA or BOVA students apply, the price for these will be 200EUR.
For students not belonging to the NOVA or BOVA universities, the course fee is 200EUR.
For other participants the fee is 500EUR.

According to NOVA rules maximum of 50% of the course NOVA attendee may come from the host institute ie the Helsinki University.

Accommodation and travel expenses are not covered by NOVA, nor by the course fee.

If a person is participating only for the last day Welfare Quality network seminar (open for public) it is free, but pre-registration by November 1, 2016 is required here.




Eija Kaukonen, tel. +358405597278

Harry Blokhuis is a professor at the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences (SLU). His field of specializati­on is behaviour and animal welfare. Harry has coordinated seven EU funded international research programmes. This includes the coordination of the Welfare Quality project which was the largest coordinated research effort in this area to date. Currently he coordinates collaborative work between former leading partners in Welfare Quality called ‘Welfare Quality Network’.

Björn Forkman, professor, Univerisity of Copenhagen, Denmark

Inger Lise Andersen, professor, NMBU, Norway

Mari Heinonen is  a professor in swine medicine in the University of Helsinki. Mari works with swine diseases and health care, epidemiology, welfare and reproduction.

Päivi Rajala-Scultz is a professor at the University of Helsinki. Päivi  earned her PhD in veterinary epidemiology from Cornell University. After that, she accepted a faculty job at the College of Veterinary Medicine at The Ohio State University in Columbus,  where she worked 15+ years. In the Fall of 2015, she returned to her alma mater in Finland and assumed a professorship in Milk Hygiene and Cattle Health at University of Helsinki. Her research interests are in dairy production medicine and udder health.

Annamari Heikinheimo is a university lecturer at the University of Helsinki with the research topic dealing with antimicrobial resistance in bacteria of animal origin from public health perspective, especially ESBL and MRSA.

Cassandra Tucker is a professor at the University of California, Davis. By studying cattle behavior, Cassandra investigates how beef and dairy cattle respond to housing and management decisions. The results from her work play an increasingly important role in science-based decisions about animal agriculture.

Mara Miele, professor, Cardiff University, UK

DAY 1: BRAN­DING Ani­mal wel­fa­re –


Place: Minerva building, room K113, Siltavuorenpenger 5 A
  9:00 - 9:30 Welcome
  9:30 - 10:15 Mara Miele: Animal Welfare: the challenges of implementing a common legislation in Europe
10:15 - 10:30 Coffee break
10:30 - 11.30 Mara Miele: The potential and limits of market driven animal welfare improvements
11.30 - 12.30 Group exercise: Brands and Labels: Freedom Foods, Happy Eggs and Soil Association (UK)
12:30 - 13:30 lunch
13:30 - 14:00 Essi Wallenius: Juustoportti’s initiative: Free Cow’s Milk
14:00 - 15:00 Cassandra Tucker: Corporate voluntary animal welfare schemes – the USA perspective
15:00 - 15:30 coffee
15:30 - 17:30 group exercise and wrapping up
17:30 onwards student and teacher get-together with drinks and snacks

DAY 2: DIF­FE­RENT Ani­mal wel­fa­re AS­SESS­MENT SYS­TEMS – 


Place: Athena building, room 166, Siltavuorenpenger 3 A
  8:00 - 9:30 Harry Blokhuis: On-farm welfare assessment: drivers and technical possibilities
  9:30 - 10:00 coffee
10:00 -11:30 Inger Lise Andersen: From theory to the practical welfare assessment – challenges along the way
11:30 - 12:30 lunch
12:30 - 14:00 Björn Forman: The problem of integrating measures
14:00 - 14:30 coffee
14:30 – 15:00 Margrethe Brantsater: Fear in laying hens
15:00 – 15:30 Katri Halinen-Elemo: Application of the Welfare Quality® Protocol in five Pig Slaughterhouses in Finland
15:30 - 16:30 group work
16:30 - 17: 00 plenary to report back on the group work

Free evening


Place: Athena building, room 166, Siltavuorenpenger 3 A
   8.30 – 10:00 Annamari Heikinheimo: Animal welfare and food safety
10:00 – 10:30 coffee
10:30 -12:00 Päivi Rajala-Schultz: Interaction between animal welfare, housing conditions and animal health in cattle
12:00 –13:00 lunch
13:00 – 14:00 Mari Heinonen: Interaction between animal welfare, housing conditions and animal health in pigs
14:00-15:30 coffee with group work on biosecurity and animal welfare
15:30-15:45 biobrake
15:45-16:15 Kaari Reimus: On farm cattle mortality and related risk factors in Estonian dairy herds
16:15-16:45 Käthe Kittelsen: Broiler welfare issues at the end of the production period
17:00 onwards  scientific  networking program organized by students including light food and drinks


Place: Small Hall at the Fabianinkatu 33
Course participants will take part in the public Welfare quality network seminar, where different animal welfare assessment-related projects are presented. Seminar is free for public but pre-registration has been required.


-  be able to critically evaluate the conceptual background of different animal welfare assessment systems and their outcome
-understand the principles and challenges of different AW assessment systems
-understand the concept of branding AW, and which factors affect consumer attitudes towards animal welfare assessment
-be able to critically estimate the interactions between animal welfare, animal health and food safety 


The course will be evaluated based on active participation in the course and the group discussions.


Students are asked to suggest presentations based on their own research work, of these we will select suitable ones for plenary or small-group presentations (student then gets an additional 1 ECTS to the 2 ECTS).

Before the course, students are asked to look into at least two systems commercially marketed, where AW is used as a criteria for branding. Students should be prepared to present and discuss these during the course.

Lecturers will provide relevant pre-reading material prior to the course when appropriate