Health, Welfare and Management


About this course

The environment of animals is continuously changing in many aspects (e.g. feed availability, temperature, presence of pathogens, social contacts). The animal itself is also continuously changing depending on e.g. stage of its life (e.g. suckling, weaned, growing, lactating, pregnant). Many processes in the animals need to respond to both these external and internal changes, e.g. adapting their behaviour, their energy metabolism, or immunological processes. Some questions that come up: do animals differ in their capacity to adapt to their environment, and if so, can animals ‘learn’ to adapt? Do you need to ‘acquire’ adaptive capacity in early life? If so, for which processes? Which changes in the environment or in life challenge this adaptive capacity? If adaptive capacity is limiting, what goes wrong? The course deals with these aspects of the functioning of kept animals.
These insights are important as keeping animals comes with a responsibility to take good care of them. This, what ‘ good care’ is, is not easily defined and also depends on your view on the value of animals. Therefore, in the course, we also consider ethical aspects of animal keeping.

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:

  • Explain the concept and relevance of adaptive capacity for the functioning of an animal
  • Explain the physiological mechanisms that determine the functioning of animals, specifically young animals and lactating animals
  • Explain the processes and factors that affect the social behaviour of animals evaluate the influence of management conditions (e.g. nutritional, thermal, social etc.) on the physiological functioning and behaviour of animals
  • Interpret scientific papers related to the discussed topics in lectures and for a position paper
  • Form and express an opinion in a position paper, on a topic related to the themes discussed

Required prior knowledge

Assumed Knowledge:
Immunology and Thermoregulation, Behavior/Endocrinology, Reproduction and Fertility.

Link to more information

If anything remains unclear, please check the FAQ of Wageningen University.


  • Start date

    2 September 2024

    • Ends
      25 October 2024
    • Term *
      Period 1
    • Location
    • Instruction language
    • Register between
      1 Jun, 00:00 - 4 Aug 2024
These offerings are valid for students of Utrecht University