Behaviour and Welfare of Farm Animals

Animal trials consistent with ethics code


ILVO has built up years of expertise by researching the behaviour and welfare of the most important farm animals (including cattle, pigs, chickens, rabbits). Apart from conducting research into the development of indicators and scoring methods for the determination of specific welfare problems as well as general, integrated welfare indices, this group also examines the effects of nutrition, management, and housing conditions on the behaviour and welfare of farm animals. Other topics of research include the causes and potential remedying measures for specific animal welfare problems in animal husbandry (such as aggression in group-housed sows, leg problems of meat chickens, feather pecking of laying hens, heat stress in cattle, tail biting in fattening pigs, and the castration of piglets).


Evaluating the effects of different types of nutrition, management, housing conditions stalomgeving en stalinrichting on the welfare, behaviour, physiology and morphology of pigs, meat chickens and laying hens, dairy cattle and beef cattle and rabbits.


The Precision Livestock Farming research group works on objectifying and automating animal-related parameters as well as the continuous and simultaneous monitoring of large groups of animals at individual level. This makes the daily, automatic, real-time and continuous monitoring of individual animals possible. New techniques are developed or existing sensors/technologies are adapted for this purpose.

ILVO’s scientific expertise and technical support during measurements are available, under experimental as well as field conditions. Specific expertise is available on early detection of lameness in cows based on their gait pattern and early detection of problems in fattening pigs. This is done through individual monitoring of the daily eating and drinking pattern of the animals in group housing and by determining the weight distribution over each of the pigs’ legs.


Frank Tuyttens (animal husbandry), Annelies Van Nuffel (agricultural engineering)