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ISES 13th Equitation Science conference – ISES 2017 Down Under

Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia

Lauren Hemsworth PhD

PhD Research Fellow

Dr Lauren Hemsworth is a Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Animal Welfare Science Centre (AWSC). Lauren’s career to date has focused on improving the welfare of domestic animals. She has considerable research experience in the behaviour and welfare of domestic animals, with an emphasis on the human–animal relationship, animal welfare assessment and the development and validation of behavioural and welfare indicators. Lauren holds a BSc (Hons) majoring in Zoology from the University of Melbourne, and a Doctorate from Monash University.

Her Honours research investigated the effects of an isolation period in an animal shelter on dog behaviour and welfare, by measuring changes in a dog’s fear of humans and physiological stress levels (IgA concentrations) over an eight-day period.

Lauren’s doctoral research ('The Welfare of Recreational Horses in Victoria: The Occurrence of and Factors Associated with Horse Welfare') examined recreational horse ownership in Victoria and investigated the relationships between horse owner attributes and horse welfare outcomes. This involved a large random demographic telephone survey, and an on-site horse and horse owner inspection, which included a human attitude and knowledge survey, a horse husbandry and management survey, and a horse health and welfare assessment. The research findings provided evidence of relationships between horse owner attributes, including attitudes and behaviour, and horse welfare outcomes. Importantly, horse owner husbandry and management behaviour was associated with horse welfare outcomes. The observed relationships imply that improving a horse owner’s knowledge is likely to result in favourable attitudes towards horse husbandry and management behaviour which could potentially improve the horse owner husbandry and management behaviour and subsequently reduce the welfare problems found in recreational horses in Victoria (Hemsworth, 2012). These findings demonstrated the opportunity to manipulate the human–horse relationship via targeted education in order to improve the husbandry and management behaviour of horse owners and potentially reduce the incidence of poor welfare in recreational horses.

In her current role at the AWSC, Lauren is leading a range of projects including the development and validation of an animal welfare assessment tool capable of assessing the welfare of a range of animal species in-situ, examining the zoo keeper–zoo animal relationship, investigating consumer perceptions and attitudes in the red meat industry, the development of education and training programmes to modify horse owner behaviour in order to improve horse welfare outcomes, conditioned feeding to increase feed intake in lactating sows, and the relationship between sham-chewing and welfare in group-housed gestating sows.

Lauren was awarded the ABARES Science and Innovation award for Animal Welfare (2015). She is a reviewer for six journals. Lauren is currently supervising 1 MVSc, 1 Honours and 2 PhD students.