AWF Lectureships


AWF Research Fund



Research Period


Area of study

Veterinary Education


Investigators: Dr David Main (University of Bristol), Dr Dorothy Mckeegan (University of Glasgow), Dr Jennifer Duncan (University of Liverpool)

AWF’s role in promoting welfare education and debate in the veterinary profession has been considerable. The achievements of the AWF lectureships played a very important part in this and have left a legacy of enhanced welfare education, novel collaboration, and increased capacity for high quality welfare research. In 1986 one of the first actions of the newly formed Foundation was to fund the Professorship of Animal Welfare in Cambridge University Veterinary School. AWF followed this in 2005 with creating AWF lectureships at the Universities of Glasgow, Bristol and Liverpool for Dr Dorothy McKeegan, Dr Jennifer Duncan and Dr David Main respectively. This further impacted on the inclusion of animal welfare within veterinary education and provided an essential platform to raise the profile of animal welfare and ethics in the undergraduate veterinary curriculum. Dr McKeegan, Duncan and Main worked together to devise an informal model curriculum during the first year of their lectureships and this became a critical resource in promoting a wider update of animal welfare education - the response from students to this curriculum was overwhelmingly positive.

The AWF lectureships provided a new focus for development of welfare research with major funding attracted in all three institutions for work involving farm animals on wide ranging topics. This research led to a few significant impacts beyond academia including direct influence on government policy (e.g., Glasgow work on the welfare consequences of beak trimming in laying hens was used by DEFRA as a primary source of evidence in the decision to delay the ban on the practice.) By the end of 2013 over 90% of UK non-cage laying hen, dairy and pig farms would be due a formal welfare assessment at least once per year because of the Assurewel project, a major implementation programme run by Dr Main at Bristol.

Feedback from the recipients

"Perhaps most importantly, students now recognise welfare and ethics as subjects in their own right and consider their impact throughout their whole veterinary training", Dr Dorothy McKeegan, AWF Senior Lecturer, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, April 2013

"Previous to this appointment there had been no formal animal welfare curriculum at Liverpool Veterinary School. Through their support for these posts the AWF has made a substantial contribution to undergraduate veterinary animal welfare education in the UK", Dr Jennifer Duncan, Senior Lecturer in Livestock Health and Welfare, School of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool, April 2013

"The AWF supported lectureship position has enabled me to pursue key welfare improvement research interests, accessing significant additional funding to carry out a number of studies... It has also enabled me to develop a major implementation programme on welfare outcomes – turning animal welfare science into practical measures", Dr David Main, RCVS Recognised Specialist in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law, Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, April 2013


Full Report