AgriFutures Chicken Meat Program supports Nuffield Scholarship to enhance ongoing animal welfare

14.12.20

Kelly McTavish’s research project for her 2021 Nuffield Australia Farming Scholarship will investigate emerging trends and technologies in farming systems around the world to facilitate enhanced animal welfare outcomes for the long-term prosperity of the Australia’s chicken meat industry.

Kelly McTavish has worked in the Australian chicken meat industry for more than 20 years and is passionate about animals and enhancing their welfare. “My love of animals is a lifelong one, that only increases with time!”

Kelly said, “My interests were sparked when I was given the option to study ethology – the science of animal behaviour – at uni as part of my animal production degree. It was in these ethology classes conducted by Dr Judith Blackshaw that I saw what was possible and my passions were ignited!”

“This was when I was introduced to the workings of Dr Temple Grandin and using the science of animal behaviour to improve management practices, production and productivity via the inevitable improvement of the animal’s welfare,” said Kelly.

“I often say I fell into the Australian chicken meat industry and made the quick realisation that I was here to stay, as I had really fallen in love with the birds, the people who are working in direct contact with the birds, and the entire industry.”

Kelly said, “My passion and drive for the science of enhanced animal welfare outcomes for the animal, and the betterment of the Australian chicken meat industry, has definitely increased over time.”

For Kelly the Nuffield Scholarship program is a unique opportunity to increase her knowledge base via access to a network of international agricultural industries to collaborate with and share knowledge for the betterment of all agriculture.

“Improving animal welfare is my life passion! My 2021 Nuffield Scholarship is a unique opportunity to access a global network to investigate and research existing practices and identify future trends in animal welfare across all agricultural industries in Australia and internationally.”

“Animal production cannot exist without the synergy of animal health and welfare,” Kelly explained. “Getting this synergy right is not only the smart thing to do, it will enhance animal welfare outcomes and increase the long-term prosperity of the entire Australian chicken meat industry. We are all responsible in animal production industries for the welfare of our animals because their lives support ours.”

Kelly said, “The biggest influence on the welfare of animals is people. Therefore, supporting the people that have direct contact with the animals will have the biggest effect on enhancing animal welfare outcomes.”

Talking more about the research she will undertake as part of her 2021 Nuffield Scholarship with her key area of focus being enhanced chicken welfare and improved handling methods, Kelly said, “I’m really looking forward to investigating emerging trends and technologies, training programs, methods of engagement, and existing systems in use for supporting animal welfare outcomes, then finding ways to put those findings into practice in Australia.

“The aim of my Nuffield research project is to drive enhanced outcomes on the ground that will improve the sustainability and prosperity of the Australian chicken meat industry,” said Kelly.

“I want to sincerely thank Nuffield Australia and AgriFutures Chicken Meat Program for entrusting in me with this opportunity.”

Speaking about the decision to support Kelly McTavish’s Nuffield Scholarship Georgina Townsend, Manager, Research at AgriFutures Australia said, “Enhancing chicken welfare and improving handling methods is a key focus area for the AgriFutures Chicken Meat Program strategy, and Kelly’s research proposal fits in perfectly with this objective.

The Program also looks to build capacity and develop quality stakeholder relationships both in Australia and internationally and supporting Kelly’s Nuffield Scholarship is a great opportunity to do this.”

Find out more about Nuffield Australia and read about past scholarship recipients at nuffield.com.au

Find out more about the AgriFutures Chicken Meat Program at agrifutures.com.au/rural-industries/chicken-meat/