Junior Research Group Phenotyping of Animal Welfare

The junior research group established in 2013 at the FBN focuses on phenotyping of animal welfare for cattle and pig.

The junior research group has the following main aims:

  • Validation of indicators that were found promising in regard to animal welfare for cattle or pig in previous sub-projects of the Phenomics project. These indicators or parameters are determined based on individual tests and should be validated regarding their practicability.
  • Investigating the relationship between indicators based on individual tests and indicators based on group tests. Besides using common approaches to analyze these data the members of the group also develop and test new approaches in close cooperation with the Institute of Behavioural Physiology (FBN). This work enables the development of new behavioral tests in groups as well as to develop, test, and validate new evaluation criteria.
  • Investigation of social behavior in groups of animals while simultaneously considering the individual personality traits. Apart from the common video observation method we use the innovative UWB-Tracking technology for automatic tracking of cattle. The video data are analyzed using classical approaches common in the research field of ethology as well as the new approach of “Social Network Analysis”. These analyses are performed in close cooperation with the Institute of Behavioural Physiology (FBN).
  • The UWB-Tracking data are preprocessed using bioinformatic approaches and thus allow simultaneously the detection of interaction and  association (based on distance) between animals. Tracking data possess the advantage that they can be automatically analyzed with the aid of bioinformatics. The simultaneous recording of groups of animals via video and UWB-Tracking enables us to compare both techniques and to evaluate how well such tracking data are suitable for such investigations. 
  • Build-up a research platform to relate behavioral traits, methods to evaluate behavior and molecular biological reasons of behavior based on open access publications. For realization we use a bioinformatics approach. First the text will be extracted from the PDF documents. We then search for concepts (ontology) that describe animal welfare (key words) using a text-mining approach (Cooperation with Prof. R. Zimmer, LMU Munich) in the extracted text. In the last step the revealed text passages have to be validated regarding their relevance for the found  key words.

The junior research group is part of the joint project “Phänomics” and is financially supported by the BMBF (Grant No. 0315536G) and the FBN. Dr. Silke Trißl has lead the junior research group from 2013 till 2015.