A talk with… Richard Laven

Richard Laven is animal health associate professor at Massey University, New Zealand

Where did you grow up?

In the UK, mostly in the South East of England. I went to school and university in London. 

What motivates you in your research on animal well-being?

To make conditions better for farmed animals and to get veterinarians and farmers to think more about animal welfare.

What made you decide to work on animal well-being?

I moved from doing a PhD at London University to working at ADAS Bridgets, a research dairy farm and was involved in two major lameness projects. Management of lameness is crucial to managing welfare in dairy cows – and one of the areas we don’t manage well when managing lame dairy cows is the management of pain. So my interest started with managing lameness to managing pain in general and then because prevention is always better, I ended up in doing research on preventing pain.

In your opinion, what is the single most important well-being issue in current animal production

Lameness in dairy cows – it’s severely painful, it lasts a long time (before and after recognition or treatment), we don’t have good long-term analgesic management and it affects over 50% of cows per year on confined systems.

What is your favorite animal?

I love cows (particularly Ayrshires and Gloucesters) but my favourite animal would be the Lar Gibbon, because of their beautiful song and their amazing style of moving.

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