portrait-heleenDr Heleen A van de Weerd BSc, PGDip, MSc, PhD, FRSB

Heleen gains a great personal sense of satisfaction when she is able to make direct and rapid improvements in the welfare of animals, whether they are housed in a laboratory, on a farm or at home.

As a consultant, she works with corporate, NGO and government clients, applying animal welfare knowledge to achieve improvements to animal’s lives. She has an international reputation for her research and knowledge on animal behaviour and welfare.

For almost 25 years, she has been active in this field and has generated both fundamental and applied animal welfare research that has been of direct relevance to policy makers, both at a national and EU level. She has conducted animal welfare policy evaluation and has made recommendations directly to EU member states and stakeholders.

Her motivation to improve the welfare of companion animals drove her to acquire a degree in companion animal behaviour counselling. Heleen has experience in securing funding for research and consulting and delivering a complicated portfolio of projects in the area of animal welfare. She has experience with strategic thinking and planning at a senior management level in both the charitable and private sectors, most recently in developing her animal welfare consultancy business. Her core skills around project management include planning, co-ordination, implementation and achieving objectives. Her personal strengths are a great sense of responsibility for her commitments, utilising the unique qualities of individual persons and working with others to achieve a shared goal. This is helped by her excellent and conscientious communication skills. She is a life-long learner who enjoys acquiring new knowledge and skills.

Publications: Fully refereed papers (selection)

  • Van de Weerd H, Ison S (2019). Providing effective environmental Enrichment to pigs: How far have we come? Animals 9, 254. Open Access
  • Riber AB, Van de Weerd HA, de Jong IC, Steenfeldt S (2018). Review of environmental enrichment for broiler chickens. Poultry Science 97, 378-396.
  • Riber AB, de Jong IC, Van de Weerd HA, Steenfeldt S (2017). Environmental enrichment for broiler breeders: an undeveloped field. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, section Animal Behavior and Welfare, 4:86. Open Access
  • Sullivan R, Amos N, van de Weerd HA (2017). Corporate Reporting on Farm Animal Welfare: An Evaluation of Global Food Companies’ Discourse and Disclosures on Farm Animal Welfare. Animals 7, 17. Open Access
  • Van de Weerd HA, Seaman S, Wheeler K, Goddard P, Mclean B (2012). Use of artificial drinkers by feral ponies. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 139, 86-95.
  • Van de Weerd HA, Day, JEL (2009). A review of environmental enrichment for pigs housed in intensive housing systems. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 116, 1-20.
  • Van de Weerd, HA, Keatinge, R, Roderick, S (2009). A review of key health-related welfare issues in organic poultry production.  World’s Poultry Science Journal 65, 649-686.
  • Day JEL, Van de Weerd HA, Edwards SA (2008). The effect of varying lengths of straw bedding on the behaviour of growing pigs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 109, 249–260.
  • Docking, CM, Van de Weerd HA, Day JEL, Edwards SA (2008). The influence of age on the use of potential enrichment objects and synchronisation of behaviour of pigs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 110 (3-4), 244-257.
  • Blokhuis HJ, Fiks van Niekerk T, Bessei W, Elson A, Guémené D, Kjaer J, Levrino G, Nicol C, Tauson R, Weeks C, Van de Weerd HA (2007). The LayWel project: welfare implications of changes in production systems for laying hens. World’s Poultry Science Journal 63(1), 101-114.
  • Van de Weerd HA, Elson A (2006). Rearing factors that influence the propensity for injurious feather pecking in laying hens. World’s Poultry Science Journal 62(4), 654-664.
  • Van de Weerd HA, Docking CM, Day JEL, Breuer K, Edwards SA (2006). Effects of species-relevant environmental enrichment on the behaviour and productivity of finishing pigs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 99(3-4), 230-247.
  • Van de Weerd HA, Docking CM, Day JEL, Edwards SA (2005). The development of harmful social behaviour in pigs with intact tails and different enrichment backgrounds in two housing systems. Animal Science 80, 289-298.
  • Van de Weerd HA, Docking C, Day JEL, Avery PJ, Edwards SA (2003). An alternative approach towards developing environmental enrichment for pigs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 84, 101-118.

Publications: Book chapters

  • Van de Weerd HA, Day JEL (2017). Farm animal welfare: The legal journey to improved farm animal welfare. The business of farm animal welfare. Eds: N Amos, N, R Sullivan. Greenleaf publishing. Pp 47-63.
  • Van de Weerd HA, Docking CM, Day JEL, Breuer K, Edwards SA (2004). Longitudinal study of adverse behaviour of undocked pigs in two different housing systems. BSAS publication 31. ‘The appliance of pig science’. Eds: JE Thompson, BP Gill, MA Varley. Nottingham University Press, UK. Pp 165-168.
  • Van de Weerd HA, Baumans V (1995). Environmental enrichment in rodents. In: Environmental Enrichment Information Resources for Laboratory Animals. AWIC Resource Series no. 2, 145-149.

Publications: Conference abstracts (selection)

  • Ison S, Blaszak K, Mora R, Van de Weerd HA (2019). Group sow housing with enrichment – insights from Brazil, China and Thailand. Abstract for a poster session at the Banff Pork Seminar 2019.
  • Van de Weerd HA (2018). A global perspective on environmental enrichment for pigs: how far have we come? Proceedings of the 52nd Congress of the ISAE, Charlotte town Prince Edward Island, July/Aug 2018, Canada. P 66.
  • Van de Weerd HA, Amos N, Sullivan R. (2016). An assessment method for the management of farm animal welfare in global food companies. Proceedings of the 50th Congress of the ISAE, Edinburgh 2016, Scotland. P 429.
  • Talling J, Van Driel K, Van de Weerd HA, Mitchell M, Kettlewell P (2015). Extended journey lengths (11 days) in high specification lorries does not further compromise pig welfare. Abstract HSA conference July 2015, Zagreb, Croatia.
  • Van Driel K, Farish M, Van de Weerd HA, Talling J, Mitchell M, Kettlewell P (2011). Journey duration and welfare pigs transported to slaughter in the UK. Abstract HSA conference June 2011, Portsmouth, UK.
  • Van Driel K, Heath R, Talling J, Van de Weerd HA, Kettlewell P, Mitchell M (2010). The use of wildlife cameras to monitor pig behavior during commercial long distance transport. Proceedings of Measuring Behavior 2010. 7th international conference on methods and techniques in behavioral research. August 2010, Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Pp 466-467.
  • Van de Weerd HA, Elson A (2009). Evaluation of agroforestry as a sustainable, and welfare friendly, free-range egg production system. Abstract 8th European Symposium on Poultry Welfare, May 2009, Cervia, Italy. P 10.
  • Van de Weerd HA, Gordon SH (2007). Evaluating novel protein sources for organic laying hens. Proceedings EurSafe conference on Sustainable Food Production and Ethics, September 2007, Vienna, Austria. Pp 537-542.
  • Docking CM, Van de Weerd HA, Day JEL, Edwards SA (2007). The use of enrichment objects by individual pigs in commercial groups. Proceedings BSAS 2007, Southport, UK. P 41.
  • Breuer K, Docking CM, Van de Weerd HA (2007). The effect of weaning age and liveweight on bellynosing in pigs. Abstract 21st IGN-Meeting Animal Suffering and Well-being. September 2007, Giessen, Germany.
  • Van de Weerd HA, Croxall R, Elson HA (2006). Beak blunting, an alternative to beak trimming in laying hens? British Poultry Abstracts V2, no. 1. Pp 2-3.
  • Van de Weerd HA (2006). Pig enrichment: legislation, science and reality. Abstract 40th International Congress of the ISAE, August 2006, Bristol, UK. P 191.
  • Breuer K, Docking CM, Van de Weerd HA (2006). The effect of three different weaning ages on performance, behaviour and welfare of piglets and sows. Abstract 40th International Congress of the ISAE, August 2006, Bristol, UK. P 208.
  • Van de Weerd HA, Docking CM, Day JEL, Edwards SA (2004). The influence of different early life enrichment on the behaviour of pigs on an Elevated Plus Maze. Proceedings BSAS/ISAE, April 2004, York, UK. P 71.
  • Van de Weerd HA, Docking CM, Day JEL, Breuer K, Edwards SA (2003). Longitudinal study of adverse behaviour of undocked pigs in two different housing systems. Poster abstract BSAS symposium ‘The appliance of pig science’, September 2003, Nottingham, UK. P 29.
  • Van de Weerd HA, Docking CM, Day JEL, Edwards SA (2003). Behaviour of pigs with different early life enrichment in a free exploration test. Abstract 37th International Congress of the ISAE, June 2003, Abano Therme, Italy. P 91.
  • Van de Weerd HA, Docking C, Day JEL, Edwards SA (2002). Toys for pigs – improving the welfare of pigs in intensive production systems. Poster abstract ‘Set for Britain’ event, March 2002, House of Commons, London, UK.
  • Van de Weerd HA, Docking C, Day JEL, Avery PJ, Edwards SA (2002). Defining characteristics of species-specific environmental enrichment for pigs. Abstract 36th International Congress of the ISAE, August 2002, Egmond aan Zee, The Netherlands. P 62.
  • Van de Weerd HA, Day JEL, Docking C, Avery PJ, Edwards SA (2001). An alternative approach towards developing species-specific environmental enrichment. Abstract 35th International Congress of the ISAE, August 2001, Davis, California, USA. P 75.

Honours and awards

  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB)
  • Senior Visiting Fellow at Nottingham Trent University (2018-present)