Making a contribution to more animal welfare in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Investigated by Dr Jan Langbein, scientist at the Institute of Behavioural Physiology, Department of Farm Animal Ethology and member of the Animal Welfare Advisory Board M-V

Dr. Jan Langbein wirth the dwarf goats

Hello Dr Langbein, you have been a scientist at the FBN since 2002 and do research mainly with goats. What is special about these animals and what is the focus of your research?

Dr Langbein: Dwarf goats are very open-minded and curious. They also have good visual skills, which are a prerequisite for solving visual learning tasks. We use the dwarf goats as model animals for other socially living ungulates. Since we run our own breeding programme at the FBN, we can optimally plan our experiments with the animals. The focus of my research with the dwarf goats is on investigations of various questions in the area of learning behaviour, such as working or long-term memory, which I conduct with a learning automaton developed at the FBN. In addition, I use modified test paradigms from comparative psychology to investigate cognitive abilities in the dwarf goats, for example in the area of impulse control, stress resistance, reasoning or behavioural flexibility. I also investigate how cognitive occupation in everyday husbandry affects the animals‘ well-being.

In addition, you have been active in the Animal Welfare Advisory Board MV for 11 years. What are the tasks of the Animal Welfare Advisory Board?

The Animal Welfare Advisory Board in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania advises the Minister of Agriculture and Environment, Dr. Till Backhaus, on animal welfare issues and makes recommendations. The topics range from lost and found animals, pets and wild animals to cat and dog ownership, wolf issues and, of course, farm animals - it is a very diverse field of work. That is why a total of nine people from different institutions come together - from BUND and the M-V regional association of the Deutscher Tierschutzbund e. V. (German Animal Welfare Association) as well as from the Bauernverband M-V e. V. (M-V Farmers‘ Association) and the Landeszooverband M-V (M-V State Zoo Association). This allows for a good exchange among experts and helps thinking outside the box.

Which topics will the Animal Welfare Advisory Council focus on in particular?

A particularly important topic will be the continuation of the animal protection concept from 2015. The aim of the animal protection concept is to better protect the lives and well-being of animals in M-V, especially with regard to the keeping of farm animals. The keeping of animals should be more adapted to their needs so that the animals remain healthy, are properly cared for and can largely live out their species-appropriate behaviour.

What goals were set in the animal welfare concept?

First of all, optimising the keeping of the animals and refraining from interventions that only serve to adapt the animals. In addition, there are goals primarily in the area of animal health, but also the development of training and counselling offers for animal keepers so that they are up to date and can receive help with implementation. In addition, there are also three projects within the framework of the animal protection concept, which further develop the topics „rehabilitation of animal shelters“, „cat protection“ and „dealing with helpless, injured or sick wild animals“.

What is your personal motivation for participating in the Animal Welfare Advisory Board and which topic is particularly close to your heart?

The exchange with the other experts on the topic of animal welfare in zoo, wild and domestic animals is particularly important to me, as it allows me to be better informed about what animal welfare-relevant problems there are in these areas. In addition to this view beyond the professional horizon, it is important to me to be able to present and discuss the approaches and results that the FBN is developing in research for more animal health and welfare in this round. Above all, however, I would like to make a contribution to pushing animal welfare in the various sectors in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.