Professor Alistair Lawrence

Scotland's Rural College

Research Interests

I have been involved with farming throughout my life having been brought up on a family farm in Perthshire. I graduated in Zoology (University of St Andrews) before studying for my PhD under Professor David Wood-Gush at Edinburgh who introduced me to the study of farm animal behaviour and welfare.

Currently I have a shared post with SRUC and the University of Edinburgh. For SRUC I am located in the Animal Behaviour and Welfare Team; for the University of Edinburgh I am in the Division of Neurobiology.

My own research interests have spanned understanding the causes and welfare implications of stereotypic behaviours; assessing the impact of intensive farming environments on welfare; genetic and environmental influences on social and maternal behaviour and the economics of animal welfare.

Research Projects

At present I have 2 main themes of research activity:

  • Understanding play and other positive behaviours: I am working with Dr's Sarah Brown and Simone Meddle (Roslin Institute) and Dr Emma Baxter (SRUC) on developing an understanding of the significance of play in farm animals with the aim of using that understanding to promote animal play in modern farming systems. See Roslin Institute Selected Publications.
  • Understanding human-animal interactions: I am working with Dr Melanie Connor (SRUC), Dr Jo Williams (University of Edinburgh), Professor Candace Currie (University of St Andrews) and Professor Fiona Brooks (University of Hertfordshire) on understanding adolescents perceptions of animals and their welfare as the basis of developing interventions to improve attitudes and behaviour to animals in young people. See Promoting a Duty of Care Towards Animals.


I also teach on the 2 masters courses we run with the University of Edinburgh on animal welfare (MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare and MSc in International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law) and I am currently involved in organising better linkages between the animal science research community in Scotland and Biology teaching in secondary schools.

I am responsible for coordinating the Food Theme (with Professor Cathy Dwyer) and the work package on Livestock Welfare of the Scottish Government Strategic Programme. See RESAS Strategic Programme 2011-2016.

PhD Students

Sarah Ison - Addressing Pain at Parturition in Pigs

Selected Publications

  • Rutherford,K.M.D., Baxter,E.M., D'Eath,R.B., Turner,S.P., Arnott,G., Roehe,R., Ask,B., Sandoe,P., Moustsen,V.A., Thorup,F., Edwards,S.A., Berg,P. & Lawrence,A.B. 2013. The welfare implications of large litter size in the domestic pig I: biological factors. Animal Welfare, 22, 199-218
  • Baxter,E.M., Rutherford,K.M.D., D'Eath,R.B., Arnott,G., Turner,S.P., Sandoe,P., Moustsen,V.A., Thorup,F., Edwards,S.A. & Lawrence,A.B. 2013. The welfare implications of large litter size in the domestic pig II: management factors. Animal Welfare, 22, 219-238
  • Arnott,G., Roberts,D., Rooke,J.A., Turner,S.P., Lawrence,A.B. & Rutherford,K.M.D. 2012. BOARD INVITED REVIEW: The importance of the gestation period for welfare of calves: Maternal stressors and difficult births. Journal of Animal Science, 90, 5021-5034
  • Canario,L., Turner,S.P., Roehe,R., Lundeheim,N., D'Eath,R.B., Lawrence,A.B., Knol,E., Bergsma,R. & Rydhmer,L. 2012. Genetic associations between behavioral traits and direct-social effects of growth rate in pigs. Journal of Animal Science, 90, 4706-4715
  • Wemelsfelder,F., Hunter,A.E., Paul,E.S. & Lawrence,A.B. 2012. Assessing pig body language: Agreement and consistency between pig farmers, veterinarians, and animal activists. Journal of Animal Science, 90, 3652-3665
  • Rutherford,K.M.D., Donald,R.D., Arnottt,G., Rooke,J.A., Dixon,L., Mehers,J.J.M., Turnbull,J. & Lawrence,A.B. 2012. Farm animal welfare: assessing risks attributable to the prenatal environment. Animal Welfare, 21, 419-429
  • Rutherford,K.M.D., Donald,R.D., Lawrence,A.B. & Wemelsfelder,F. 2012. Qualitative Behavioural Assessment of emotionality in pigs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 139, 218-224
  • Rioja-Lang,F.C., Roberts,D.J., Healy,S.D., Lawrence,A.B. & Haskell,M.J. 2012. Dairy cow feeding space requirements assessed in a Y-maze choice test. Journal of Dairy Science, 95, 3954-3960
  • Baxter,E.M., Lawrence,A.B. & Edwards,S.A. 2012. Alternative farrowing accommodation: welfare and economic aspects of existing farrowing and lactation systems for pigs. Animal, 6, 96-117
  • Ashworth,C.J., Hogg,C.O., Hoeks,C.W.F., Donald,R.D., Duncan,W.C., Lawrence,A.B. & Rutherford,K.M.D. 2011. Pre-natal social stress and post-natal pain affect the developing pig reproductive axis. Reproduction, 142, 907-914
  • Sandercock,D.A., Gibson,I.F., Rutherford,K.M.D., Donald,R.D., Lawrence,A.B., Brash,H.M., Scott,E.M. & Nolan,A.M. 2011. The impact of prenatal stress on basal nociception and evoked responses to tail-docking and inflammatory challenge in juvenile pigs. Physiology & Behavior, 104, 728-737
  • Donald,R.D., Healy,S.D., Lawrence,A.B. & Rutherford,K.M.D. 2011. Emotionality in growing pigs: Is the open field a valid test? Physiology & Behavior, 104, 906-913
  • Baxter,E.M., Lawrence,A.B. & Edwards,S.A. 2011. Alternative farrowing systems: design criteria for farrowing systems based on the biological needs of sows and piglets. Animal, 5, 580-600