Christine Janet Nicol

Christine Janet Nicol
Royal Veterinary College | RVC

About

269
Publications
83,345
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
11,770
Citations
Introduction
Here's a recent paper you might be interested in: Anthropogenic Threats to Wild Cetacean Welfare and a Tool to Inform Policy in This Area Christine Nicol, L Bejder, L Green, C Johnson, L Keeling, D Noren, J Van der Hoop and M Simmonds Front. Vet. Sci. https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2020.00057
Additional affiliations
January 2018 - present
Royal Veterinary College
Position
  • Professor
January 1986 - September 2017
University of Bristol
Position
  • Professor

Publications

Publications (269)
Article
In the milk producing industry, most aspects of maternal behaviour are discouraged, but milk production is actively maintained in the absence of the calf. The process of milk let down, is mediated, at least partly, by oxytocin, which has been shown to play a central role in facilitating maternal bonding. Here we show that cows express an elevated n...
Book
Full-text available
It does not just advertise what the author thinks we know about chicken behavioural biology but actually lays out the evidence… Of tremendous value to all students of poultry science, animal behaviour and animal welfare in general… A masterpiece in the communication of science.' Professor Dr. Hanno Würbel, University of Bern, Switzerland. Chickens...
Article
Social buffering – the amelioration of an individual’s stress response caused by conspecific presence – is known to be widespread in social mammals but the capacity of birds to act as social buffers has not yet been determined. We previously demonstrated that domestic hens (Gallus gallus domesticus) show socially-mediated arousal when watching thei...
Article
We previously demonstrated that domestic hens, Gallus gallus domesticus, show behavioural and phys-iological responses when witnessing mild chick distress, and possess the underlying foundations of emotional empathy. However, no studies have determined how cognitive influences affect empathic processes in birds. A fundamental question is whether a...
Article
Animal welfare is usually assessed by measuring animals' responses to different environments or procedures. The alternative approach examines animal decision making, assuming that even domestic animals in artificial environments are able to integrate all relevant inputs and select in their own best interests. These two approaches to animal welfare...
Article
Full-text available
To access resources in commercial laying houses hens must move between levels with agility to avoid injury. This study considered whether providing ramps during rear improved the ability of birds to transition between levels. Twelve commercial flocks (2000 birds/flock) on a multi-age site were examined between 1 and 40 weeks of age. All birds had a...
Article
Full-text available
Social buffering occurs when the presence of one animal attenuates another’s stress response during a stressful event and/or helps the subject to recover more quickly after a stressful event. Inconsistent previous results might reflect previously unrecognised contextual influences, such as the nature of the stimulus presented or social factors. We...
Preprint
Full-text available
Social buffering occurs when the presence of one animal attenuates another’s stress response during a stressful event and/or helps the subject to recover more quickly after a stressful event. Inconsistent previous results might reflect previously unrecognised contextual influences, such as the nature of the stimulus presented or social factors. We...
Article
Full-text available
The mechanisms underlying individual variation in learning are key to understanding the development of cognitive abilities. In humans and primates, curiosity has been suggested as an important intrinsic factor that enhances learning, whereas in domesticated species research has primarily identified factors with a negative effect on cognitive abilit...
Article
Full-text available
Human activities and anthropogenic environmental changes are having a profound effect on biodiversity and the sustainability and health of many populations and species of wild mammals. There has been less attention devoted to the impact of human activities on the welfare of individual wild mammals, although ethical reasoning suggests that the welfa...
Article
Full-text available
Despite societal concerns about the welfare of commercial laying hens, little attention has been paid to the welfare implications of the choices made by the genetics companies involved with their breeding. These choices regarding trait selection and other aspects of breeding significantly affect living conditions for the more than 7 billion laying...
Article
The focus of this paper is the requirement that the use of live animals in experiments and in vivo assays should never be allowed if those uses involve severe suffering. This requirement was first implemented in Danish legislation, was later adopted by the European Union, and has had limited uptake in North America. Animal suffering can arise from...
Article
Full-text available
Access to an outdoor range has many potential benefits for laying hens but range use can be poor due to factors only partly understood. Techniques to monitor individual range use within commercial flocks are crucial to increase our understanding of these factors. Direct observation of individual range use is difficult and time-consuming, and automa...
Article
A bibliometric analysis was undertaken to chart the development of animal welfare (AW) science as a whole, and of the individuals, organisations and countries that have had most academic impact to date. Publication data were collected from the Web of Science for the year range 1968–2017 and by-hand pre-processing of the data was undertaken to ident...
Article
Full-text available
Document recommendation systems for locating relevant literature have mostly relied on methods developed a decade ago. This is largely due to the lack of a large offline gold-standard benchmark of relevant documents that cover a variety of research fields such that newly developed literature search techniques can be compared, improved and translate...
Article
The aim of the study was to determine whether early access to elevated structures affects spatial navigational abilities. Ninety six day-old chicks were reared in 16 pens. Eight pens were provided with A-frame perches with an attached platform and a ramp. Eight pens had no elevated structures. At 14–15 days of age 48 chicks were tested in a battery...
Chapter
This book contains chapters that discuss the natural engineering and multifunctionality of feathers, embryonic development of the avian integument, the reasons and welfare implications of feather pecking in laying hens, genetic solutions to reduce injurious pecking in laying hens, evidence-based management of injurious pecking, contact dermatitis i...
Article
In commercial situations, laying hens must negotiate levels to reach resources such as food, water and litter. Providing ramps in aviary systems reduces collisions and resultant keel bone fractures in adults. We investigated whether providing ramps during rear improved the ability of birds to transition between levels. Chicks were reared commercial...
Article
Full-text available
Emotional contagion - an underpinning valenced feature of empathy - is made up of simpler, potentially dissociable social processes which can include socially-mediated arousal and behavioural/physiological contagion. Previous studies of emotional contagion have often conflated these processes rather than examining their independent contribution to...
Article
Full-text available
When measuring animals’ valenced behavioural responses to stimuli, the Conditioned Place Preference (CPP) test goes a step further than many approach-based and avoidance-based tests by establishing whether a learned preference for, or aversion to, the location in which the stimulus was encountered can be generated. We designed a novel, four-chamber...
Article
Full-text available
Background The harm benefit analysis (HBA) is the cornerstone of animal research regulation and is considered to be a key ethical safeguard for animals. The HBA involves weighing the anticipated benefits of animal research against its predicted harms to animals but there are doubts about how objective and accountable this process is. Objectives i....
Data
Additional procedures involving further animals. (DOCX)
Data
Results of expert panel severity classifications. (DOCX)
Data
References to the 228 animal studies. (DOCX)
Article
Full-text available
Simple Summary Using an adaptation of the domain-based welfare assessment model, a panel of horse welfare professionals (with professional expertise in psychology, equitation science, veterinary science, education, welfare, equestrian coaching, advocacy, and community engagement) assessed the perceived harms, if any, resulting from 116 intervention...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This study assessed the negative welfare impacts of common interventions applied to horses and ponies across a broad range of contexts of care and training. A panel of veterinary and equestrian experts (n=16) met for a four-day workshop to assess these interventions, using an adaptation of the domain-based humaneness assessment model. The primary a...
Article
Full-text available
Background Laying hens are often kept in barn or free-range systems where they must negotiate level changes in the house to access resources. However, collisions and resultant keel fractures are commonplace. Producers sometimes add ramps to make raised areas more accessible but designs vary and very little research has investigated bird preference...
Article
Lameness in dairy cattle is a common welfare problem with significant economic implications. All too often, appropriate treatment is delayed or neglected due to insufficient detection of lame cows. Brush usage is considered a low-resilience activity; that is, one that typically decreases when energy resources are limited or when the cost involved i...
Article
1. In commercial free-range systems for laying hens, popholes to the outdoor range are often installed on one side of the house only. In multi-tier systems, it is possible that some individuals fail to access the range due to internal barriers to movement. 2. Five commercial multi-tier flocks from different units were studied. For each flock, two d...
Article
Full-text available
Automated monitoring of behaviour can offer a wealth of information in circumstances where observing behaviour is difficult or time consuming. However, this often requires attaching monitoring devices to the animal which can alter behaviour, potentially invalidating any data collected. Birds often show increased preening and energy expenditure when...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This review of the peer-reviewed scientific literature on the care, management and slaughter of farmed poultry, game birds and ratites has been prepared for the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Victoria, Australia. The review aims to highlight scientific knowledge, where it exists, on the animal welfare consequence...
Article
The effect of a resource package designed to reduce inter-bird pecking and increase range use was tested on fourteen free-range farms in the UK. The package comprised two types of objects intended to attract pecking behaviour: ‘pecking pans’ containing a particulate pecking block, and wind chimes; plus long, narrow shelters placed just outside the...
Article
Metritis, a prevalent disease on dairy farms, is negatively associated with reproduction, milk production, and the welfare of cows. The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of monitoring low-resilience activities (i.e., behaviors that typically decrease when energy resources are limited or when the cost involved in the activity incr...
Article
Level changes in commercial laying hen loose-housing systems may be physically difficult for birds to negotiate, preventing or limiting access to resources such as the litter area and the outdoor range, and potentially increasing injury risk. The aim of this research was to investigate bird behaviour at an important level change (traversing between...
Article
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to understand which factors and resources free-range egg consumers believe are important for hen welfare. Design/methodology/approach – An online survey was distributed via the mailing list of a UK free-range egg brand receiving 6,378 responses. The survey was mostly five-point Likert-scale based. The same su...
Article
Full-text available
Appropriate rearing is essential for ensuring the welfare and productivity of laying hens. Early experience has the potential to affect the development of fearfulness. This study tested whether rearing in aviaries, as opposed to cages, reduces the fearfulness of laying hens after transfer to furnished cages. Fear responses were recorded as avoidanc...
Article
Free-range egg producers face continuing problems from injurious pecking (IP) which has financial consequences for farmers and poor welfare implications for birds. Beak-trimming has been practised for many years to limit the damage caused by IP, but with the UK Government giving notification that they intend to ban beak-trimming in 2016, considerab...
Article
Lame broiler chickens perform poorly in standardised mobility tests and have nociceptive thresholds that differ from those of non-lame birds, even when confounding factors such as differences in bodyweight are accounted for. This study investigated whether these altered responses could be due to pain, by comparing performance in a Group Obstacle te...
Article
In recent years, an increasing number of farmers are choosing to keep their cows indoors throughout the year. Indoor housing of cows allows farmers to provide high-yielding individuals with a nutritionally balanced diet fit for their needs, and it has important welfare benefits for both cows and their calves, such as protection from predators, para...
Article
Many studies have assessed use of the outdoor ‘range’ area on free-range laying farms, and have revealed that percentage range use at any one time rarely exceeds 50% of the flock, and is sometimes below 10%. What constitutes a ‘good’ range use is difficult to determine without better knowledge of ranging bout lengths under ideal conditions. Well do...
Article
Full-text available
When a reward is downgraded in quantity or quality from that which is expected, one of two possible outcomes can result. Acquisition responses may decline gradually, owing to a strong stimulus–response reinforcement history, and thus follow the Thorndikian law of effect. Alternatively, there may be an exaggerated reaction to a downgraded reward whe...
Article
Full-text available
This opinion investigated the use of perches for laying hens in cage and non-cage systems. It is based on various activities reviewing the effects of perch height and design on hen health and welfare. Systematic and extensive literature reviews were conducted to assess the scientific evidence about hen motivation to grasp and seek elevation, and th...
Article
Most horses are trained by negative reinforcement. Currently, however, no standardised test for evaluating horses’ negative reinforcement learning ability is available. The aim of this study was to develop an objective test to investigate negative reinforcement learning in horses. Twenty-four Icelandic horses (3 years old) were included in this stu...
Article
Full-text available
The aim of our study was to explore the association between dominance rank and body condition in outdoor group-living domestic horses, Equus caballus. Social interactions were recorded using a video camera during a feeding test, applied to 203 horses in 42 herds. Dominance rank was assigned to 194 individuals. The outcome variable body condition sc...
Article
Full-text available
The somatic marker hypothesis proposes that humans recall previously experienced physiological responses to aid decision-making under uncertainty. However, little is known about the mechanisms used by non-human animals to integrate risk perception with predicted gains and losses. We monitored the behaviour and physiology of chickens when the choice...
Article
Full-text available
Injurious pecking remains one of the biggest animal welfare and economic challenges for free-range egg producers. This prospective epidemiological study investigated the development of vent pecking (VP) and cannibalism on 62 free-range and organic UK farms (119 flocks). Flocks were visited at 25 (± 5) and 40 (± 5) weeks of age. Rates of VP were rec...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Nuchal crest adiposity in horses and ponies has been associated with an enhanced risk of metabolic health problems. However, there is no current information on the prevalence of, and risk factors specific to, nuchal crest adiposity in horses and ponies. In addition, the cresty neck score has not previously been utilised across differen...
Article
Full-text available
In humans, more difficult decisions result in behavioural and physiological changes suggestive of increased arousal, but little is known about the effect of decision difficulty in other species. A difficult decision can have a number of characteristics; we aimed to monitor how finely balanced decisions, compared to unbalanced ones, affected the beh...
Article
Full-text available
This study tests the hypothesis that hens that are reared in aviaries but produce in furnished cages experience poorer welfare in production than hens reared in caged systems. This hypothesis is based on the suggestion that the spatial restriction associated with the transfer from aviaries to cages results in frustration or stress for the aviary re...
Article
Full-text available
Lameness is common in commercially reared broiler chickens but relationships between lameness and pain (and thus bird welfare) have proved complex, partly because lameness is often partially confounded with factors such as bodyweight, sex and pathology. Thermal nociceptive threshold (TNT) testing explores the neural processing of noxious stimuli, a...
Article
Objective Investigate the effects of administration of meloxicam and carprofen on the mobility of hens with and without keel fractures.Study designWithin each of two experiments a ‘blinded' randomised cross over design whereby birds received either the test drug (carprofen or meloxicam) or saline.AnimalsTwo groups of Lohman Brown hens with and with...
Article
To determine whether lame broilers are in pain it is necessary to compare measures of lameness and mobility before and after analgesic treatment. Such measures should not be unduly affected by other bird characteristics. This study assessed the performance of lame (gait score, GS 3–4) and non-lame (GS 0–1) broilers using two mobility tests: (i) a n...
Article
Full-text available
Reasons for performing study. The prevalence of obesity in companion animals, including horses and ponies has risen drastically in recent years and risk factors have been little investigated. Horses are unique amongst companion animals in that many are outdoor-living and forage independently on pasture; they also have a dual utility and companionsh...
Article
Abstract 1. A study was conducted to investigate the effect of environment on ranging in 33 flocks reared with (16) or without (17) range access. Ranging was observed at 8, 16 and 35 weeks. Information on house lay-out, weather conditions and range characteristics was used to create models predicting the percentage of the flock out on the range and...
Article
Full-text available
Human studies suggest that prior emotional responses are stored within the brain as associations called somatic markers and are recalled to inform rapid decision-making. Consequently, behavioural and physiological indicators of arousal are detectable in humans when making decisions, and influence decision outcomes. Here we provide the first evidenc...
Article
Full-text available
Studies on the prevalence of feather pecking in different commercial laying hen systems and its welfare and economic impacts are reviewed in the following paper. Current methods for controlling feather pecking include beak-trimming and alterations to light regimes, but these methods have significant disadvantages from the perspective of bird welfar...
Article
Animals allocate time and effort to a range of core (e.g., sleeping, feeding, drinking) and "luxury" (e.g., playing, exploring) activities. A luxury activity is characterized by low resilience and, as such, will be reduced when time or energy resources are limited, including under conditions of stress or discomfort. One seemingly luxurious activity...
Article
Animals in groups behave cohesively, even when those animals are domesticated and are housed in limited environments. But how is such group cohesion maintained? Do animals move in an independent manner, according to their own motivations, or in a social manner, with respect to the movements of others? Here, we use a mathematical model to consider t...
Article
Laying hens with keel fractures (n = 35) and control hens with no fractures (n = 12) were trained to associate the colour and position of an environment with the effects of either a subcutaneous injection of an opioid analgesic drug (butorphanol) or a subcutaneous injection of saline in a conditioned place preference experiment. Each hen experience...
Article
Feather pecking (FP) in laying hens remains an important economic and welfare issue. This paper reviews the literature on causes of FP in laying hens. With the ban on conventional cages in the EU from 2012 and the expected future ban on beak trimming in many European countries, addressing this welfare issue has become more pressing than ever. The a...