Theo G.M. Demmers, Dr. Ir.
Agricultural Engineer (Environmental Sciences)

I was a senior scientist in the environment Group at Silsoe Research Institute with close links to the Animal welfare Group. The main focus of my research was the physical environment of livestock and in particular aerial pollutants and bioaerosols. The majority of the work was funded through either DEFRA or LINK programmes. Topics included in my work at SRI:

  • Ventilation of livestock buildings;
  • Measuring ammonia emissions and methods to reduce ammonia emissions from livestock production systems using a wide range of techniques, including tracer ratio methods and open path laser technology;
  • Assessing the environmental impact of different feeding and housing systems for finishing pigs;
  • UK ammonia emission inventory;
  • Assessing how process modelling can be used to estimate agricultural ammonia emissions;
  • Effect of integrated management systems for poultry production on pollutant emissions;
  • Production and disease responses from the weaner pig to aerial pollutants;
  • Welfare assessment of gaseous stunning in poultry.

As from October 2005 I have relocated to the Royal Veterinary College, University of London as part of the multidisciplinary Animal Welfare Group. The research programme of this group is funded by the BBSRC and centres around the following three broad topics:

  • Visual perception of domestic fowl and pigs (Dr John Jarvis and Dr Siobhan Abeyesinghe):
    Using behavioural methodology to obtain a mechanistic understanding of visual perception, which is vital to an understanding of visual discrimination of conspecifics and humans; the role of light in visually-mediated welfare problems, e.g. feather pecking and cannibalism in fowl and aggression in pigs; an objective scale to quantify the effectiveness of spectral light for farm animals; and a scientific basis for guidelines for both evaluating and specifying the light environment of housed pigs and fowl;
  • Social cognition and behaviour in pigs and domestic fowl (Dr Siobhan Abeyesinghe and Dr Morven Mcleman):
    Investigating the consequences of the imposed physical and social environment for social cognition (conspecific discrimination), and behaviour in intensively kept pigs and poultry, ultimately leading to the prescription of optimum environments for facilitating social interacting; minimising aggression and maximising positive social experience;
  • Environmental management of pigs and fowl (Dr Theo Demmers and Prof Christopher Wathes):
    Quantifying the biological and physical interactions between housed pigs and fowl and their physical environment, ultimately leading to improved welfare through new model based systems of environmental management for housed pigs and domestic fowl, based upon scientific understanding.

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