The Humane Slaughter Association (HSA) has announced the joint winners of its 2017 Humane Slaughter Award. The award, which recognises individuals or organisations that have made major scientific advances in the welfare of livestock during slaughter, transport or killing for disease control, has been given to Peter Kettlewell and Professor Malcolm Mitchell of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) in recognition of the developments they have made in improving the welfare of food animals during transportation.
The two have collaborated since 1984 and their research on thermal stress in animals during transport has been a major contribution to improved animal health, welfare and productivity. Originally working at the Silsoe and Roslin Institutes, they used a unique combination of physical, engineering, physiological and behavioural techniques: These include theoretical modelling, physiological modelling, stress and welfare assessment, ventilation and vehicle design, wind tunnel testing, full-scale on road testing and practical measurements during commercial transport under a wide range of conditions in the UK, Europe and North America. This work was combined with developments in novel sensor technologies to monitor the physiological condition of animals in real transport environments. An important finding was that contrary to intuition, in a moving livestock container, air flows from the back to the front and this has a major influence on the internal thermal micro-environment of the vehicle. The understanding of such physical phenomena and principles led to the design and development and application of in-built forced ventilation systems, especially in poultry vehicles, which have improved the welfare of millions of animals in transit.
Since joining SRUC they have successfully continued their long standing research collaboration on animal transportation. Their current work is chiefly related to the long distance transport of pigs and calves within Europe and the effects of weather, thermal conditions and journey duration on animal welfare in transit. Both scientists have advised Defra and the industry on welfare issues relating to animal transport and production environments and serve on the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) committees addressing animal transport legislation as well as working extensively with collaborators in the UK, other European countries, Canada, USA and South Africa. Recently they have been major contributors to Guides to Good Practice for animal and poultry transport developed by FVO, DG SANTE and a European research consortium.
Dr Jeff Lines from the Silsoe Institute, who was one of the nominating sponsors for the pair said: “Peter and Malcolm’s partnership has created a unique and valuable body of knowledge…. Their work has led to significant improvements in the transport industry and in the regulations concerned with protecting animal welfare during transport.”
The award will be presented to the winners at the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare 2017 International Symposium at Royal Holloway, University of London, on the 28 of June.