Professor Paul Hemsworth,

The University of Melbourne

A positive human contact: a form of environmental enrichment for farm animals?

Paul has had a strong interest from an early age in wildlife, agriculture and biology. He graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Honours) in 1973 and following a brief period as a scientist with the Department of Agriculture, Werribee, Victoria, he completed his PhD in 1978 at the University of Melbourne studying social and sexual factors affecting reproduction of the domestic boar. After completing a post-doctoral fellowship 1980 at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, studying human-animal relationships in commercial pig farms, he returned to Department of Agriculture, Werribee, Victoria as a research scientist and then principal scientist until 1997. Paul was a G.A. Miller Research Fellow at the Department of Animal Science, University of Illinois, Illinois, 1982-1983 and Daniel Alpine Scholar at the Department of Animal Science, University of California, Davis, USA, 1993. From 1997 – 2018, he was the Director of the Animal Welfare Science Centre, The University of Melbourne. Awards and recognition for his leadership and scientific contribution include the 1996 Animal Welfare Research Award by the British RSPCA and the British Society of Animal Science and the David Wood-Gush Memorial Lecture at the 33rd International Society for Applied Ethology, Norway 1999.

Paul is internationally recognised for his contribution to animal welfare science and his pioneering research with Professor Grahame Coleman on the role of human-animal interactions on farm animal productivity and welfare has had a global impact. This unique and innovative multidisciplinary research program identified the major human characteristics, such as attitude and behaviour, affecting fear responses in farm animals which through acute and chronic stress can seriously limit farm animal productivity and welfare. By understanding the influence of human attitudes and behaviour on animal fear, stress, productivity and welfare, this research has shown the applicability of training programs in the dairy, pig and poultry industries targeting the key influential human characteristics to improve farm animal welfare and productivity. More recently this research has included studying the effects of human-animal interactions in zoos and domestic settings