Behavioural Physiology – Program

Animal welfare biology – from applied ethology to psychophysiology

We focus on scientifically clarifying the biological basis of animal welfare, meaning the physical and especially the mental wellbeing of animals.

The Institute of Behavioural Physiology consists of two closely cooperating research units –  Ethology and Psychophysiology – which analyse the behavioural and psychophysiological processes in the interaction between farm animals and their housing environment.

This is based on the thesis that the adaptation and behaviour repertoire of today’s farm animals is, in fact, ultimately evolved but only inadequately matches the conditions of the restrictive husbandry environment in many aspects, with partly negative consequences for the animals that are relevant for animal welfare.

By studying the behavioural and physiological principles of the adaptation and appraisal processes that take place, we want to contribute to a comprehensive understanding how animals cope best with this special animal-environment constellation.

The goal is to enable the animals to cope successfully and, on this basis, to develop scientifically substantiated approaches for improvements in animal welfare and husbandry.

We use a broad spectrum of methods and research approaches ranging from a wide variety of possibilities for phenotyping behaviour, bioacoustic and cardiovascular analyses, immune competence studies and hormone, neurotransmitter and receptor determination, all the way to the development of innovative animal husbandry solutions.