Discussion Forum 2023 - Session focus: Technology is challenging the paradigm of animal welfare


After qualifying from the Royal School of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, Matt started life in companion and livestock veterinary practice in rural Dorset. In 1999 he returned to academia to continue his career. After completing a RCVS Certificate, Matt returned to clinical practice, setting up his own veterinary businesses. Matt’s passion is innovative veterinary care, and he has received several awards for developing new and novel ways of ensuring the highest standards in animal care, including a Nuffield Scholarship and the Queens Award for Voluntary Services. Matt is active in vet tech and Agritech in the UK and is on the board of five Agritech businesses.

Q: What sparked your interest in the topic?

Technology is being described as the next ‘revolution’ to impact society. No area will be left untouched by the impact of digitalisation, ‘big data’ and new electronic hardware.

Q: Why is this topic particularly relevant now?

Technology adoption has been slow in animal health, and yet the wider society has not only adapted to technology pervading our everyday lives, we have also come to rely on the benefits it brings. Specific hardware or the adoption of readily available technologies for specific animal use is changing views on how relevant technology is to animal health. Likewise, it will become increasingly relevant to animal welfare.

Q: What are the key issues of this topic?

Balancing the competing challenges of technology improving or challenging welfare. For example, technology can increase animal production which may introduce an unintended consequence of reducing welfare. Technology may bring benefits to improve diagnosis, yet contradict welfare by encouraging extending life, even if welfare is compromised. These views need to be discussed, explored and debated.

Q: What are you hoping delegates will take away from the session?

This session will provide a safe space to allow the speakers and delegates to openly support and challenge views and beliefs around the opportunities and threats that new technology brings to the field of animal welfare. Our speakers will bring a wealth of knowledge and opinion, backed by research, commercial understanding and experience. Those attending will leave with a greater understanding of what the technological future of animal care offers.

Q: What comes next?

Understanding how to best deploy and engage with technology in veterinary science is an iterative process. By attending the 2023 Discussion Forum and engaging in this debate, you will be actively contributing to improved welfare for animals under our care.

Join us at The Discussion Forum on 6th June and be part of the conversation!