Dr. Stephanie Lürzel

My primary research interests are the human-animal relationship and its connection with welfare in farmed animals, especially cattle. More specifically, I investigate the potential of a positive relationship with humans for eliciting positive affective states, a key aspect of positive animal welfare, and ways to improve the relationship efficiently. This includes experimental work on how to improve gentle tactile and vocal human-animal interactions, investigating aspects that influence their perception by the animals, and studies on the transmission of a good relationship with humans from the dam to the offspring in cattle and pigs. I am also interested in the consequences of gentle interactions and a positive human-animal relationship with regard to productivity (e.g. weight gain, milk yield) and stress and anti-stress physiology (e.g. oxytocin, cortisol, immunoglobulin A, heart rate and its variability), as well as in ways to use techniques from Precision Livestock Farming for automatic recognition of micro-expressions and affective states. To date, I have acquired funding for two projects from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF):

•    Gentle human interactions and positive emotions in cattle (*pdf.)
•    Vertical social transmission of animal-human relationships (*pdf.)