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Mette S. Herskin

Senior Researcher

Profile photoMette S Herskin
Senior Researcher
Department of Animal Science - Behaviour and stressbiology
Blichers Allé 20
K27, 3217
8830 Tjele
Email: mettes.herskin@anis.au.dk
Mobile: +4550502969
Phone: +4587157945
Web: http://pure.au.dk/portal/en/mettes.herskin@anis.au.dk
ORCHID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3744-4524
Personal information:
Born 12 July 1970, Danish citizen, Married, 3 children


My research links ethology and veterinary science, focusing on behaviour, pain, disease and stress in pigs and cattle kept for production purposes as well as experimental animals. Selected key words for my present projects are: pain; sickness behavior; behavioural needs of sick animals, tail docking; sickness pens; decubital shoulder ulcers; fitness for transport; animal transport; castration, dry-off, 3R.


Web of Science: 18
Google Scholar: 24
Scopus: 19


1996: MSc. Ethology, Univ. Copenhagen

2004: PhD in Ethology. Thesis “Responses toward acute stress and novelty in dairy cattle – behaviour, physiology and Nociception”, The Royal Vet. and Agricultural University Denmark, Department of Animal Science and Animal Health.


1997-1999: Research Assistant, Dept Anim Health & Welfare, Dan. Inst. Agric. Sci.

1999-2004: PhD Student, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Copenhagen

2005-2006: Post Doc, Faculty of Science, Aarhus University. Title: Hormonal/sensory anti-stress during milking in dairy cows

2006-2007: Project scientist, Danish Inst. Agric. Sci.

2008-: Senior Research Scientist at Aarhus University, Department of Animal Science

Research profile

My research links ethology and veterinary science and focuses on the behaviour of farm animals when kept under conditions, where welfare may be challenged. Doing this, I am very inspired by the OneWelfare concept recognizing the interconnections between animal welfare, human well-being and the environment. I focus on science communication, and I give public lectures, teach at the university, write textbooks and publish scientifically in veterinary, ethological and animal science journals. My research has been carried out in Denmark and other countries, as part of research projects involving Danish universities, industry, international universities and authorities (including the European Reference Centre for Pig Welfare). A large part of my research is focused on improvement of the understanding of the welfare effects of production diseases and other pathological conditions (such as mastitis, footpad dermatitis and fitness for transport) as well as management procedures (such as animal transport, pick-up facilities, dry-off, castration and the use of sickness pens). I chair the Animal Welfare Body of our department.

Teaching and supervision

I have, throughout my career, been involved in teaching at university level, and have been responsible for courses in behaviour of domesticated animals. I have, since 2013, been responsible for a semester at the Master education in ‘Animal welfare in primary production’. Since 2009, I have been co-responsible for a total of 9 PhD courses in ‘Animal Pain’ and ‘Interpretation of animal stress responses’. In the period from 2000, I have been supervising 4 bachelor students, 14 master students and 5 PhD students (+ 3 on-going).

Invited speaker

Jan. 2016: Plenary speaker at Nordic ISAE Meeting. Title: Do hospital pens match the needs of diseased dairy cows?

Nov. 2016: Teaching at Scottish Rural Univ. Coll., Master in Animal Behaviour and Welfare. Title: Can animal science answer questions like “How painful is this condition?”

March 2017: Plenary speaker at American Society of Animal Science Midwestern Congress, Omaha. Title: Pigs in pain – causes, mechanisms and possibilities for future development.

Jan. 2018: Plenary speaker at Nordic ISAE Meeting. Title: A review of possible effects of the use of pain relief for post-disbudding analgesia in calves

Author and co-author of chapters in textbooks

Munksgaard, L., Herskin, M.S., Løvendahl, P., Andersen, J.B. 2006. Effects of nutrition on stress reactivity. In: Eds. Sejrsen, K., Hvelplund, T & Nielsen, M.O.: Ruminant Physiology – digestion, metabolism and impact of nutrition on gene expression, immunology and stress. Wageningen Academic Publishers, p. 511-525Søndergaard LV, Herskin MS. 2012. Does size matter – considerations of importance for choice of animal species in a transgenic model for Alzheimer’s disease. In: Large animals as biomedical models: ethical, societal, legal and biological aspects. Eds: Hagen K, Schnieke A, Thiele F. Europäische Akademie, Graue Reihe 51: 84-99. Herskin MS, Di Giminiani P. 2018. Pain in pigs: Characterization, mechanisms and indicators. In: Spinka M. (Ed.): Advances in pig welfare, Woodhead Publishing, Elsevier, Duxford, UK, 325-356. Marchant-Forde JN, Herskin MS. 2018. Pigs as laboratory animals. In: Spinka M. (Ed.): Advances in pig welfare, Woodhead Publishing, Elsevier, Duxford, UK, 445-476.Sandøe P, Herskin MS, Thodberg K, Sørensen JT. 2019. Dyrevelfærd og etik i husdyrproduktionen. SEGES Forlag, 199 pages.

Positions of trust

2014-: Board member of the IASP-SIG on ‘Nonhuman pain’.

2016-: Invited grant reviewer for BBSRC and OMAFRA-UofG Research Programme

2017-2019: Guest Associate Editor on the Frontiers editorial board for the duration of the Topic with Todd Duffield

2017-2019: Assisting editor for ANIMAL

2017: External examiner for PhD-degree at University of Copenhagen

2018: External examiner for PhD-degree at University of Copenhagen x 2

2018-: Representing ISAE at the EU Animal Welfare Platform subgroup on Animal Transport
2019: External examiner for PhD degree at University of Copenhagen


I have been invited member of the Dry-off advisory network, funded by CEVA Sante Animale (2017-2018).