University of Guelph
Alexandra Harlander's research is focussed on the behaviour and welfare of poultry, particularly on the impact husbandry can have on physiology and behaviour of poultry, birds' motivation to perform abnormal behaviour and the objective assessment of poultry welfare. Dr. Harlander’s research uses bird health and what birds want (e.g. preference tests, including demand analysis) to apply to current poultry husbandry practices to enhance bird well-being and health. Dr. Harlander’s research tries also to find out why laying hens perform feather pecking - an important unsolved problem in both organic and commercial laying hens with a prevalence of 60-80%, the physiological mechanisms underlying this oral-repetitive behaviour and why it becomes so excessive. The sesults of these studies should open new strategies for the prevention and treatment of feather pecking in laying hens and contribute to a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying oral-abnormal repetitive behaviour in other species kept in captivity.