Egg Farmers or Canada Research Chair in Poultry Welfare Professor
Tina Widowski is an animal welfare scientist interested in how the housing and management of farm animals affects their welfare. With training in behaviour and physiology, she uses a variety of measures to try to understand how animals perceive and respond to the environments that we keep them in and to the ways that we handle them. She has studied diverse topics such as the endocrinology of nest building in sows, the behavioural responses of hens to different lighting systems, the ontogeny of feeding and drinking in piglets and motivation for dust bathing and nesting in laying hens. Her research group has tackled some difficult issues including transport and handling of market pigs and methods for euthanasia for piglets and poultry. Her goal is to determine how we can match agricultural systems to the animals’ behavioural biology in order to develop best practices for their care.
Widowski earned a Bachelor’s degree in Ecology, Ethology and Evolution at the University of Illinois-Urbana and then ‘discovered’ animal agriculture, earning M.S. and PhD degrees in animal science there. For 3 years she worked as Research Associate in the department of Psychology at University of Wisconsin-Madison managing two colonies of monkeys and studying their reproductive behaviour and biology. After moving to Guelph in 1990, she began working in the area of poultry welfare. Dr. Widowski was appointed a faculty position in 1998, and over the years, has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in applied animal behaviour and environmental physiology and supervised or co-supervised over 35 graduate students. Her research program has focused mainly on pigs and poultry.
In 2007, Dr. Widowski was appointed Director of the Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare (CCSAW) and in 2009 named University Chair in Animal Welfare. As CCSAW Director, she has worked with a group of dedicated colleagues to develop and enhance research, training and outreach programs in animal welfare science at UoG (http://www.uoguelph.ca/csaw/). She headed the development and launching of a non-thesis MSc in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and helped to establish the Canadian Poultry Welfare Centre here (http://poultrywelfarecentre.ca/).
In 2011, Widowski was awarded the Egg Farmers of Canada Research Chair in Poultry Welfare and is now focusing her research on the housing and welfare of laying hens.