Dr. Sara Hintze

My enthusiasm for applied ethology and animal welfare science emerged with my first lectures on these topics as a vet student at the University of Giessen, Germany. Aiming to gain insight into the everyday life of an animal welfare scientist, I got involved in projects on abnormal repetitive behaviour in mice and dogs in the Division of Animal Welfare and Ethology in Giessen. My interest in the underlying mechanisms and the effects of abnormal repetitive behaviour on animal welfare started to develop, and the experience I made strengthened my wish to become an animal welfare scientist.

After graduating from vet school, I did a Master’s in ‘Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare’ at the University of Edinburgh, UK, which I completed with a thesis on the causes and consequences of mounting behaviour in finishing pigs supervised by Rick D’Eath. I continued my research path with a PhD on affective states in horses in the Division of Animal Welfare at the University of Bern, Switzerland, under the supervision of Hanno Würbel. During my PhD, I used both cognitive (Judgement Bias Task) and behavioural measures (facial expressions, Qualitative Behaviour Assessment) aiming to identify indicators of emotional valence in horses. Besides my work with the horses, I learned more about lab rodent behaviour and welfare, being involved in a project on positive facial expressions in rats and the refinement of the Judgement Bias Task for mice and rats. Moreover, I stared to become very interested in the refinement and the scientific validity of animal experiments.

My research here at BOKU in Christoph Winckler’s group focuses on identifying, validating and refining indicators of affective states in farmed animals, mainly pigs and cattle. Together with our students as well as national and international collaborators, we have refined the Judgement Bias Task for different species (calves, pigs, marmosets, laying hens) and have developed a task to assess time perception in pigs. Besides the methodological work, we conduct research on inactivity, restlessness and boredom-like states. Currently, we run an FWF-funded project aiming to identify symptoms and consequences of chronic boredom by translating methods from human psychology to pigs. In addition to empirical research, I enjoy working conceptually on different topics, including animal individuality, animal disenhancement and different aspects of positive welfare. I am also very interested in the different facets of animal welfare as part of the bigger picture of sustainable animal production. Besides my research, I enjoy giving lectures and seminars on ethology, applied physiology and different aspects of animal welfare and I co-supervise BSc, MSc and PhD students.


Journal articles

Hintze S, Yee JR 2022. Animals in flow – towards the scientific study of intrinsic reward in animals. Biological Reviews. Manuscript

Schanz L, Hintze S, Hübner S, Barth K, Winckler C 2022. Single- and multi-species groups: A descriptive study of cattle and broiler behaviour on pasture. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 257, 105779. Manuscript

Keeling LJ, Winckler C, Hintze S, Forkman B 2021. Towards a positive welfare protocol for cattle: A critical review of indicators and suggestion of how we might proceed. Frontiers in Animal Science, 2:753080. DOI: 10.3389/fanim.2021.753080. Manuscript

Hintze S, Schanz L 2021. Using the judgment bias task to identify behavioral indicators of affective state: Do eye wrinkles in horses reflect mood? Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 8:676888. DOI: 10.3389/fvets.2021.676888. Manuscript

Adriaense JEC, Šlipogor V, Hintze S, Marshall L, Lamm C, Bugnyar T 2021. Watching others in a positive state does not induce optimism bias in common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus), but leads to behaviour indicative of competition. Animal Cognition. DOI: 10.1007/s10071-021-01497-1. Manuscript

Hintze S, Maulbetsch F, Asher L, Winckler C 2020. Doing nothing and what it looks like: inactivity in fattening cattle. PeerJ 8:e9395. Manuscript

Rault J.-L, Hintze S, Camerlink I, Yee J 2020. Positive welfare and the like: Distinct views and a proposed framework. Frontiers in Veterinary Science 7:370. Manuscript

Bučková K, Špinka, M, Hintze S 2019. Pair housing makes calves more optimitic. Scientific Reports, 9:20246. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-56798-w. Manuscript

Schanz L, Krueger K, Hintze S 2019. Sex and age don't matter, but breed type does - Factors influencing eye wrinkle expression in horses. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 6:154. Manuscript

Richter SH, Hintze S 2019. From the individual to the population - and back again? Emphasising the role of the individual in animal welfare science. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 212, 1-8. Abstract

Bailoo JD, Murphy E, Boada-Saña M, Varholick JA, Hintze S, Baussier C, Hahn KC, Göpfert C, Palme R, Voelkl B & Würbel H 2018. Effects of cage enrichment on behavior, welfare and outcome variability in female laboratory mice. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 12:232. DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2018.00232. Manuscript

Hintze S, Melotti L, Colosio S, Bailoo JD, Boada-Sana M, Würbel H, Murphy E 2018. A cross-species judgement bias task: integrating active trial initiation into a spatial Go/No-go task. Scientific Reports, 8:5104. DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-23459-3. Manuscript

Hintze S, Murphy E, Bachmann I, Wemelsfelder F, Würbel H 2017. Qualitative Behaviour Assessment of horses exposed to short-term emotional treatments. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 196, 44-51. Abstract

Hintze S, Roth E, Bachmann I, Würbel H 2017. Towards a choice-based judgement bias task for horses. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. DOI: 10.1080/10888705.2016.1276834. Abstract

Hintze S, Smith S, Patt A, Bachmann I, Würbel H 2016. Are eyes a mirror of the soul? What eye wrinkles reveal about a horse’s emotional state. PLoS ONE 11(10):e0164017. Manuscript

Finlayson K, Lampe JF, Hintze S, Würbel H, Melotti L 2016. Facial indicators of positive emotions in rats. PLoS ONE 11(11): e0166446. Manuscript

Bailoo J, Varholick J, Garza X, Jordon R, Hintze S 2016. Maternal separation followed by isolation-housing differentially affects prepulse inhibition of the acoustic startle response in C57BL/6 mice. Developmental Psychobiology, 9999, 1-8. Abstract

Hintze S, Scott D, Turner S, Meddle SL, D´Eath RB 2013. Mounting behaviour in finishing pigs: Stable individual differences are not due to dominance or stage of sexual development. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 147, 69-80. Abstract

Kaulfuss P, Hintze S, Würbel H 2009. Effects of tryptophan as dietary supplement on dogs with
abnormal-repetitive behaviors. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research,
4, 97. Abstract