My interest in animal behaviour took hold at age 14 when I did my first animal behaviour experiment involving all the dogs, cats, and horses I knew at the time. I continued to pursue my interest in animal behaviour at Michigan State University where I majored in animal science. During my final year of undergrad, I had the opportunity to work in MSU's Animal Behavior and Welfare Group as a student research assistant. During this time, I conducted two of my own research projects involving swine feeding behavior and pig-human interactions.
I am now working as a M.Sc. by Thesis student under Dr. Tina Widowski studying the behaviour and welfare of adolescent laying hens, known as pullets. My research focuses on how the stocking density (concentration of animals) in a cage impacts pullet growth, uniformity, behavior, and eventual egg production in commercial systems. Space is one of the most basic needs of an animal in production, and it is often addressed first in livestock welfare regulations. However, most stocking density research does not address the first 25% of a laying hen's life as a pullet. My research intends to address this gap. Part of my project took place at commercial farms in Ontario in barns with standard rearing cages, and the second took place at the Arkell Research Station where we housed pullets in a newer, enriched cage system. In both of these systems I am looking at production measures as well as behaviour and welfare of the pullets. I am excited to be able to do this brand new research and share what I learn with the industry.