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Dr. N.E. O'Connell

Dr. Niamh O'Connell
Dr. Niamh O'Connell
Farm animal welfare research

B.Agr.Sc.(Hons) University College Dublin, 1994;
MSc. in Animal Science (Distinction),
Wageningen Agricultural University, 1997;
PhD. in farm animal welfare, Queens University Belfast (2003).


Contact Information
Tel:  +44 (0)28 9097 6507 (Direct line)
Fax:  +44 (0)28 9097 5877
Room:  N. I. Technology Centre - 02.016.
Skype:  NEOConnell1

Research interests: Farm animal welfare

Niamh is a senior lecturer in the Institute for Global Food Security, School of Biological Sciences.

She conducts farm animal health and welfare research and leads a team of post-doctoral assistants and PhD students in this area.  She is currently acting as co-ordinator of the FP7 project ECO-FCE and is investigating the link between feed conversion efficiency, feed intake patterns and leg health in pigs and broiler chickens as part of this project (together with post-doctoral research assistant (PDRA) Maeve Palmer).

She is also currently leading a DARD Research Challenge Fund project investigating the effects of natural light and stocking density on leg health and general welfare of commercial broiler chickens.  This work is being conducted together with PDRA Carley Bailie and commercial partners.  In addition, a new DEL-funded PhD studentship which will build on previous work investigating environmental enrichment options for commercial broiler chickens will start in October 2014.

Together with PDRA Gareth Arnott, she is also currently involved in an AgriSearch-funded research project aimed at identifying global research of relevance to local dairy producers, and communicating this information to the industry.  Initial research in this area involves a structured literature review of the performance, environmental, economic and animal health and welfare implications of total confinement systems for dairy cows.

PhD student Catherine Jennings is also working with dairy cows, and is investigating options to control digital dermatitis (DD) from her base at AFBI Hillsborough.  In particular, the properties and effectiveness of different footbath solutions are being assessed.

In relation to welfare indicators, Niamh is co-investigator in a BBSRC-funded project aimed at developing new behavioural indicators of welfare in pigs, and supervises PhD student Grace Carroll who is investigating carcass-based indicators of lifetime welfare in pigs (as part of a FIRM-funded project "PIGWELFIND").

Administrative responsibilities and teaching

Dr O'Connell is the Queens University co-ordinator of the BSc Agricultural Technology degree.  This degree is delivered through a collaborative partnership with the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise.  She also acts as Advisor of Studies for students on this pathway.

She co-ordinates the following undergraduate modules:
  • Farm Animal Health and Welfare (ALU3031)
  • Advances in Crop and Animal Science and Technology (ALU3032)
She teaches within the following pathways/modules:
  • MSc Animal Behaviour and Welfare
  • MSc Advanced Food Safety
  • ALU 3031 - Farm Animal Health and Welfare
  • ALU 3032 - Advances in Crop and Animal Science and Technology

Niamh is also a member of the Collaborative Provision Group in Queen's University, and of the Education Committee in the School of Biological Sciences.