• Room 0G.035 - Biological Sciences

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Farm animal behaviour and welfare


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

Prof. Niamh O’Connell conducts farm animal health and welfare research in collaboration with post-doctoral research assistants (Maeve Palmer and Mary Baxter) and PhD students.  Niamh has specific expertise in applied, on-farm research work, and much of her research is funded by agri-food companies.  One of her research themes focusses on the welfare of poultry, and, in particular in recent years, on designing optimum housing environments for broiler chickens.  This includes work on the provision of different types of environmental enrichment (such as natural light, perches, foraging objects and dustbaths).  She is also involved in commercially-funded research to develop novel biocidal products for the agri-food sector, including products to treat digital dermatitis in dairy cows.  She also has a strong interest in developing new methods of assessing welfare, including the use of abattoir-based assessments to determine lifetime the welfare status of pigs.


She has published over 60 peer-reviewed papers and is a member of the EU Platform for Animal Welfare.  


Prof O'Connell is the Queens University co-ordinator of the BSc Agricultural Technology degree.  This degree is delivered through a collaborative partnership with the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise.  She also acts as Advisor of Studies for students on this pathway.  She also co-ordinates the undergraduate module in Farm Animal Health and Welfare (BIO3106)


She teaches within the following pathways/modules:

 - MSc Animal Behaviour and Welfare

 - MSc Advanced Food Safety

- Farm Animal Health and Welfare (undergraduate module for Agricultural Technology and Zoology students)

 - Advances in Crop and Animal Science and Technology (undergraduate module for Agricultural Technology students)

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Research Output

Investigating optimal levels of platform perch provision for windowed broiler housing

Baxter, M., Richmond, A., Lavery, U. & O'Connell, N., 10 Feb 2020, In : Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 104967.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 1 Citation (Scopus)

    Fecal microbiota transplant from highly feed efficient donors affects cecal physiology and microbiota in low- and high-feed efficient chickens

    Metzler-Zebeli, B. U., Siegerstetter, S-C., Magowan, E., Lawlor, P., O'Connell, N. & Zebeli, Q., 09 Jul 2019, In : Frontiers in Microbiology.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 2 Citations (Scopus)
    115 Downloads (Pure)

    A comparison of total-mixed-ration and feed-to-yield strategies on blood profiles and dairy cow health.

    Little, M., Arnott, G., Welsh, M., Barley, J. P., O'Connell, N. & Ferris, C., 18 Sep 2018, In : Veterinary Record.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 299 Downloads (Pure)
    Open Access
  • 1 Citation (Scopus)
    87 Downloads (Pure)


    Industry Research and Development Group (External organisation)

    Niamh O'Connell (Advisor)


    Activity: Membership typesMembership of network

    European Federation for Animal Science (External organisation)

    Niamh O'Connell (Member)

    Jan 2017

    Activity: Membership typesMembership of peer review panel or committee

    EU Animal Welfare Platform (External organisation)

    Niamh O'Connell (Advisor)


    Activity: Membership typesMembership of national or international committees and working groups


    Evaluating the use and effectiveness of environmental enrichments in intensive broiler housing

    Author: Baxter, M., 16 Feb 2018

    Supervisor: O'Connell, N. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy