Study Reveals Differences in Animal Welfare Training across Europe

EU - According to a new study, the main differences in farm animal welfare education across Europe seem to be in the reduced number of hours of education, less interactive teaching and fewer courses in English available to students outside the North West of the region.
calendar icon 4 November 2014
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A recent study published in Animal Welfare aimed was to map farm animal welfare in university education in an enlarged Europe Union with emphasis on identifying existing differences and gaps.

Information on 210 courses dealing with farm animal welfare from 98 universities in 26 European countries were obtained, explained lead author, Gudrun Illman from the Institute of Animal Science in Prague, Czech Republic and co-authors from nine other academic institutions across Europe. They carried out statistical analyses on 155 of these courses within animal science or veterinary programmes, at Bachelor and Master level and with the countries grouped into five regions (North West Europe, Mediterranean, West Central Europe, East Central Europe and Balkans).

They found significantly more hours of teaching in animal welfare in the North West region of Europe. This region also had more ‘interactive’ education methods, such as group discussion and farm visits, whereas West Central Europe had most ‘transmissive’ methods, such as lecturing.

A course was more likely to be given in English in North West Europe (even when the UK and the Republic of Ireland were excluded from the analysis) and East Central Europe than West Central Europe and the Balkans.

There appeared to be no regional differences in the content of the courses although the focus was significantly more ‘applied’, i.e. towards welfare assessment and legislation in the veterinary education and more ‘fundamental’, i.e. oriented towards ethology, physiology and ethics, in the animal science education.


Illmann G., L. Keeling, M. Melisová, M. Šimecková, V. Ilieski, C. Winckler, L. Koštál, M-C. Meunier-Salaün, Š. Mihina, H. Spoolder, G. Fthenakisá, R. Šárová and M. Špinka. 2014. Mapping farm animal welfare education at university level in Europe. Animal Welfare. 23: 401-410. doi: 10.7120/09627286.23.4.401.

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