Professor Marian Dawkins CBE FRS

Emeritus Fellow; Professor of Animal Behaviour, Department of Zoology

My research interests include communication between birds and fish, social hierarchy formation, animal consciousness and animal welfare. I have particular interests in putting welfare research into practice and in the relationship between good welfare and the immune system.

Together with Steve Roberts of the Department of Engineering Science, I have been developing a computer/camera system for life-long monitoring the welfare of chickens called OpticFlock. OpticFlock works by analysing the statistical patterns made by the movements of chicken flocks. We have shown that it can detect anomalies in flock movement that reveal and predict welfare issues such as lameness. It can even pick out flocks at risk of becoming infected with Campylobacter days or weeks before the bacteria can be detected by standard culture methods. OpticFlock has been successfully trialled on over 150 commercial flocks in the UK and Switzerland and our next trials will be in the USA. We are working with the Munters Corporation to make OpticFlock widely available to farmers. The work has been supported by the BBSRC and the EPSRC and we have just completed a European-wide ANIHWA study on chicken welfare with colleagues from Switzerland, France and the Czech Republic.

I am currently finishing a new book on animal welfare called The Science of Animal Welfare: Understanding what animals want, to be published later this year by Oxford University Press.


Welfare at group and individual level: optical flow patterns of broiler chicken flocks are correlated with the behaviour of individual birds
February 2021
Journal article

Optical flow, behaviour and broiler chicken welfare in the UK and Switzerland
January 2021
Journal article

Movement change detected by optical flow precedes, but does not predict, tail-biting in pigs
October 2020
Journal article

Dominance, sharing, and assessment in an iterated Hawk-Dove game.
May 2020
Journal article
Journal of theoretical biology

Utilisation of optical flow algorithms to monitor development of tail biting outbreaks in pigs
February 2020
Journal article

A Mathematical Modeling Approach to Uncover Factors Influencing the Spread of Campylobacter in a Flock of Broiler-Breeder Chickens.
January 2020
Journal article
Frontiers in microbiology

Influence of the microbiota-gut-brain axis on behavior and welfare in farm animals: A review.
October 2019
Journal article
Physiology & behavior

Where Next?