Animal Behavior & Welfare

The Animal Behavior and Welfare Group (ABWG) at Michigan State University (MSU) examines the impact of housing and management practices on the quality of life for animals and works to provide a scientific foundation for animal welfare standards.

Complementing the MSU ABWG research mission, graduate and undergraduate students complete courses in the science of animal behavior and welfare.  Coursework is taught in the classroom, on the farm and online to actively engage students in the learning process.

The ABWG also provides practical experiences for students. Through the Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Contest, students assess animal welfare in a friendly yet competitive environment. Through independent study or sponsored undergraduate research, students can develop and carry out their own research projects area of animal welfare and behavior.

Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Contest

The Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Contest (AWJAC) aims to provide a unique educational experience while strengthening student vocabulary and reasoning skills. The AWJAC teaches students to assess the welfare of animals in a variety of settings using science-based methods and reasoning. Students are given the opportunity to weigh evidence and present sound evaluations. This contest ensures that tomorrow’s leaders in the animal industries develop strong communication skills and aquire enhanced knowledge of animal welfare.


Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPs) are written standards providing uniform, science-based standards for acceptable management practices.  Producers can compare their existing management routines against these standards, or use them as a guide for improving or developing their management practices.