Importance of social networks and support for positive animal welfare


Knowledge of livestock social networks has great potential for improving animal welfare. We will investigate the importance of social networks for wellbeing in goats. The research will be carried out at an animal sanctuary. We will quantify networks using social behaviours and the latest computational techniques, and assess how these influence wellbeing. We will also assess individual factors linked to networks, e.g. age, sex. All data collection will occur during two field seasons. More than 1 billion goats are farmed globally, and our results will contribute to improving the welfare of all livestock (e.g. pigs, cattle).


Briefer EF, Oxley J, McElligott AG (2015) Autonomic nervous system reactivity in a free-ranging mammal: effects of dominance rank and personality. Animal Behaviour 110, 121-132


Briefer EF, Tettamanti F, McElligott AG (2015) Emotions in goats: mapping physiological, behavioural and vocal profiles. Animal Behaviour 99, 131-143.


Baciadonna L, McElligott AG (2015) The use of judgement bias to assess welfare in farm livestock. Animal Welfare 24, 81-91.


Haddadi H. et al. 2011. Determining association networks in social animals: choosing spatial-temporal criteria and sampling rates. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 65, 1659-1668.


King AJ, Wilson AM, Wilshin SD, Lowe J, Haddadi H. et al. 2012. Selfish- herd behaviour of sheep under threat. Current Biology 22, R561-562.

Biological Areas:



Animal disease, health and welfare