AWF calls for research on the animal welfare impacts of breeding

A call for research has been launched by the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF), as part of its three-year ‘Breeding for better welfare’ theme.

AWF is looking for projects with a particular focus on conformation in animals, and this can be in companion, farm animal or other species.

The charity uses veterinary knowledge to improve animal welfare through science, education and debate. It is offering funding of up to £100,000 for UK researchers working on projects which will help build a body of work to better understand the impacts of breeding on animal welfare.

Breeding practices that result in conformation have far reaching effects on the welfare of all animals. The welfare impact of breeding ranked high in AWF’s Delphi research into priority welfare issues.

Extreme conformation in companion animals such as dogs, for example, has been widely covered in the national press over recent years, and is also the focus of the British Veterinary Association (BVA)’s campaign ‘Breed to Breathe’.

The welfare of other species, such as beef cattle, are also commonly affected.

Submitting a proposal

Applicants are invited to submit proposals for projects lasting between 18- 24 months which should take into account relevant welfare consequences highlighted by the AWF Delphi project on priority welfare issues in the UK.

Projects can also address some of the breeding research gaps identified by BVA policy positions on extreme conformation and UK sustainable animal agriculture.

AWF chair, Chris Laurence said:

Breeding is central to discussions across the companion animal and farming sectors for aesthetic, financial, and even environmental reasons.

“We are pleased to invite applications for research projects focusing on the animal welfare impacts of breeding across different species.

“Scientific research to find practical solutions to animal welfare issues is at the heart of AWF’s work and we are delighted to be able to offer funding for new projects this year.

We are looking for research proposals that will have a practical impact on the veterinary professions’ work, and wider policy making, with the overall aim to ensure that animal welfare remains high on the agenda.”

This year AWF is running a two-tier application process, with researchers submitting overview proposals before being invited to submit a full application.