Animal Health, Welfare, and Precision Management

Professor looking at cattle data

Chandra Spangler

The Animal Health, Welfare, and Precision Management Specialization is designed for students to be competitive for positions in applied animal science and/or agri-engineering industries. This unique specialization combines educational design instruction with rigorous scientific coursework to prepare students for industry development positions in higher education, extension, consulting agencies, corporations, and government organizations.

This specialization is intended to serve the needs of a growing population of students seeking an advanced Animal Science or Biological Systems Engineering degree with specialized training in the space of animal health, welfare, and precision management. The research programs in this specialization includes both applied and basic research in multiple livestock and poultry species. Research projects directed by faculty members offer a wide range of opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students.


Animal Health Research

  • Investigate swine host immune responses to viral infection or vaccination 

  • Examine molecular characteristics of viruses circulating in swine populations 

  • Design vaccine antigens to promote broad protective immunity in pigs

  • Discovery of genes and DNA variants responsible for congenital disorders in horse and cattle

  • Discovery of host genes and DNA variants associated with viral disease susceptibility in swine

  • Develop new detection methods of viral pathogens

  • Understanding the role of the microbial food chain in methanogenesis and other metabolic disorders in ruminants 

  • Understanding the influence of host-genotype, gut microbiota and environment towards pathogen colonization in humans and livestock

Animal Behavior and Welfare Research

  • Quantifying human skill level and investigating the relationship between skill level and animal outcomes
  • Investigating the effect of handling facility design on cattle behavior, welfare, and performance
  • Developing objective measures of cattle handling proficiency
  • Understanding the complex etiology of tail biting and early recognition of tail biting events.
  • Determining the relationship between pig activity and behavior in relation to feeding efficiency
  • Identify changes in the general behavior of nursery pigs following an immune challenge.
  • Developing an early alert system for tracking compromised nursery pigs.
  • Evaluation of environmental enrichments for captive cheetahs
  • Identifying early-life activity traits of gilts with reproductive performance
  • Use of precision technology for improving animal inventory management on-farm and at the abattoir
  • Determining the heritability of activity traits and their potential for genetic selection
  • Selection of replacement gilts based on activity traits in development

Precision Livestock Management Research

  • Identifying innovative technology suitable for livestock and poultry research
  • Assessing alternative sensing technology to predict beef cattle body traits measurements
  • Using alternative sensing technology to quantify residual feed for feedlot cattle
  • Applying innovative measurement technologies with Internet of Things (IoT) for enhanced management for grazing cattle
  • Integrating IoT technology for air quality measurements in egg-laying and livestock operations
  • Applying machine/deep learning models to livestock animal research
  • Developing a machine learning and video monitoring platform (NUtrack) to track animal activity and monitor behavior