Professor, Animal Welfare Program
NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Animal Welfare
MacMillan 189, 2357 Main Mall
McGill, Queen’s, Concordia Universities, Postdoc
Oxford Unixersity, D.Phil, Zoology
McGill University, M.Sc, Biology
McGill University, B.Sc, Biology
Dan's work aims to assess and improve various aspects of animal well-being. Most of Dan’s work focuses on dairy cows and calves, and on laboratory rats and mice. Current research focuses on five themes:
- Developing and validating methods for assessing affective states, including behavioural, cognitive and motivational testing methods to assess pain and non-pain aversion.
- Identifying alternative management practices that improve animal welfare. Key examples include work testing the effects of group housing, colostrum feeding practices and alternative weaning methods, and work is focused on assessing practical improvements to housing systems that improve comfort and reduce injuries.
- Use of automation for recording behaviours useful for the early detection of disease and other states relevant to welfare, including the development of algorithms that capture new types of information from existing sensors.
- Conceptual contributions including new perspectives on the assessment of felt emotions and suffering in animals, how animal welfare can be conceived, and how the livestock industries should respond to welfare concerns.
- Use of experimental, quantitative and qualitative methods including interviews, focus groups and online surveys to understand perspectives of animal caregivers and the public with regards to animal care and use.
I developed (together with David Fraser) the course “Animal Welfare and the Ethics of Animal Use” (now APBI 315) when I first arrived at UBC. This course has enrolment capped at 80 students and fills on the first day that registration opens. The course attracts students from a variety of disciplines and is highly rated by students. In Nov. 2000, this course won an international award from the Humane Society of the United States as one of the top courses of its type. This course was also featured in the book “Teaching the Animal: Human Animal Studies Across the Disciplines” (DeMello, 2010).
In response to consultation with existing undergraduates and recent graduates, I spearheaded the development of the new undergraduate program Applied Animal Biology that began accepting students in 2009 and has now grown to be the second largest major in the Faculty. In 2012, I created the honours stream for the major. An important component of the Applied Animal Biology program (and especially the honours stream) is a research capstone experience in the final year of study. To help prepare our undergraduates for this experience, and more generally to provide students research experience, I co-created (and co-instruct with Nina von Keyserlingk) the course “Research methods in Applied Animal Biology” (APBI 398). This course has also garnered high student evaluations.
I have also developed and instruct three graduate courses: Topics in Animal Welfare (AANB 550); Seminar in Animal Welfare Science (AANB 551); and Research Methods in Applied Animal Biology (AANB 504). Normally two of these are offered each year, primarily to the graduate students associated with the Animal Welfare Program.
Weary, D.M. 2019. Suffering, agency and the Bayesian mind. In: Mental Health and Well-Being in Animals (Ed. by F.D. McMillan). CABI, Wallingford, UK, pp. 156-166.
Weary, D.M. and J.A. Robbins. 2019. Understanding the multiple conceptions of animal welfare. Anim. Welfare 28:33-40.
Weary, D.M. and M.A.G. von Keyserlingk. 2017. Public concerns about dairy-cow welfare: how should the industry respond? Anim. Prod. Sci. 57:1201-1209.
Weary, D.M., P. Droege and V.A. Braithwaite. 2017. Behavioural evidence of felt emotions: approaches, inferences and refinements. Adv. Stud. Behav. 49:27-48.
Weary, D.M., B.A. Ventura and M.A.G. von Keyserlingk. 2016. Societal views and animal welfare science: understanding why the modified cage may fail and other stories. Animal 10:309–317.
Awards for research include most notably my fifth consecutive 5-year appointment as an NSERC Industrial Research Chair (1997 — present). Other recent awards for research include the 2013 Metacam 20 Welfare Award (awarded by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association for outstanding contributions to the field of Cattle Welfare), the 2014 Charles River Excellence in Refinement Award (awarded by the Johns Hopkins CAAT for excellence in research on the welfare of laboratory animals), the 2015 Killam Prize (awarded by the Killam Foundation for overall excellence in research (in 2014 I also received the Killam Prize for excellence in teaching), and the 2016 Ruminant Well-being Award from the World Association for Buiatrics. In 2015 I was appointed as a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. In 2017 I received the the JDS-100 award from the American Dairy Science Association. In 2018 I was awarded the Paech Visiting Professorship at the University of Sydney and was recognized by Clarivate Analytics as a Highly Cited Researcher (in the top 1% by citations for field in Web of Science). In 2020 I was awarded the UFAW Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Welfare Science by the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, and the Zinpro Award for Excellence in Dairy Science from the American Dairy Science Association.