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Mette Vaarst

Senior Researcher

Profile photoMette Vaarst
Senior Researcher
Department of Animal Science - Epidemiology and management
Blichers Allé 20
FS20, 3333
8830 Tjele
Email: mette.vaarst@anis.au.dk
Mobile: +4522901344
Phone: +4587157924
Web: http://pure.au.dk/portal/en/mette.vaarst@anis.au.dk
Personal information
Born 13th October 1961 in Aalborg, Denmark, and carry Danish citizenship.


Research in Danish, European and Global organic and agro-ecological livestock farming approaches, diversity in farming conditions, challenges related to standard development and different approaches to the principles and values in organic farming. Participation in the EU funded Network SAFO 2003-2006. Coordinator of the CORE organic project ‘Minimising of medicine use in organic dairy farming through Animal health and welfare planning’, ANIPLAN from 2007-2010, and currently the CORE Organic Cofund project GrazyDaiSy,

Action research and qualitative research focusing on advisory service, daily care taking and management routines, as well as farmers and farm related actors’ choices, farmers’ perceptions of animal welfare, role in the farming community, herd management, development, legislation and relations between different aspects of animal husbandry and organic farming.

Development of farmer groups e.g. in terms of Stable Schools and Farmer Field Schools, with focus on situated and transformative learning, empowerment and legitimate peripheral participation in a common development including development of the surrounding local community. Master thesis

Research in tropical livestock farming, in particular smallholder dairy farming, with particular focus on tick borne diseases, mastitis and management strategies and routines, and with strong focus on farmer field school development. Research and development of the Farmer Field School concept to different local contexts.

Description of animal welfare in organic livestock herds and development of methods to assessment of and dialogue about the animals’ health condition, disease occurrence and welfare, with particular emphasis on the organic principles and values such as naturalness, harmony and human care for the animals.

Research in animal disease handling (e.g. veterinary homoeopathy), and animal health and welfare promotion, especially in organic dairy herds Explicit-strategy. Development of methods for clinical recordings of the health and welfare condition of the animals. Particular focus on non-antibiotic strategies through animal health and welfare promotion, mostly in Danish publications but also internationally. Stable schools


1990: DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine)
1994: Human Classical Homoeopath
1995: PhD in Veterinary Epidemiology / Clinical Veterinary Sciences with the PhD thesis ‘Health and disease handling in Danish organic dairy farms’ [in Danish].1997: IAVH examined veterinary homoeopath
2007: MSA in Health Anthropology (6 years half time study within the period 1996-2007 in Ethnogragraphic Methods, Ethnic Medicine, Anthro-pology, Philosophy of Health Sciences, Theory of Science, Medical Anthropology)
2009: ‘Approaches to Development’ 15 ECTS, AU, Department of Political Sciences


1991-1995: Research assistant and Ph.D.student at Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, research group ‘Cattle farming system whole-year research’
1995-: Researcher + senior researcher at Department for research in cattle and sheep / Animal Health and Welfare / currently: Aarhus University, Department of Animal Science.
2014-2017: Senior researcher at International Centre for Research in Organic Farming and Food Systems (part-time).


- Choices, motivations, actions and interactions of different groups of professionals in the farming and food systems, e.g. ‘what is driving processes of change in perceptions and actions?’ and the importance of contextualization
- Organic and agro-ecological livestock farming system integration, different approaches to the principles and philosophy of organic farming, agroecology, permaculture and biodynamic farming, e.g. health promotion focus leading to phasing out of antibiotics
- Animal health and welfare research in organic livestock herds and development of methods to assessment of and dialogue about the animals’ health condition
- Tropical animal farming, in particular smallholder farming
- Health Anthropological perspectives on animal health, welfare and disease handling.
In total 311 publications in PURE, AU. Google scholar 8th Feb. 2019: In total 460 articles incl. conference contributions and popular articles and abstracts. H-index 27. No. of citations 2334. 
Numerous invited lectures at international conferences and universities. Responsible or co-supervisor for 9 PhD- and >20 MSc-students. Research collaborations within EU projects and EU Networks, e.g. NAHWOA and SAFO (as coordinator) with partners from 31 European countries, and international research projects, e.g. ANIPLAN, SOLID and currently ROADMAP and GrazyDaiSy. Participation in national and international conferences, seminars and meetings in Europe and East Africa in particular.

Awards and Memberships

Membership of Animal Ethical Council (2010-2016), and various boards e.g. in the local Veterinary Associations, and the association of veterinarians in research, administration and education. Head of the PhD school SOAR 2010-2013. Volunteer worker in projects about organic agriculture and Farmer Family Learning Groups in the Rwenzori Region in collaboration between Organic Denmark, Sustainable Agricultural Trainers Network and NOGAMU, Uganda, 2008-2017.

Leadership and Administration

No leaderships, except from project leader of several Danish and international projects. Participation in scientific evaluation committees, e.g. PhD evaluation in UK, Sweden, Norway and DK. Assistant editor of the journal ANIMAL and ad hoc referee at various international scientific journals (e.g. Livestock Science, Acta Agr. Scand., Preventive Vet. Med. & JDS), and well for various research councils e.g. in Norway, Austria and UK. Currently principal investigator in projects granted by the Innovation Fund, GUDP and WP leader in H2020 project led by INRA.


Organic agriculture Double Degree Start-up Module (MSc-level; 5 ECTS; responsible in DK)

Project in Organic Agriculture (MSc-level, 5 ECTS; course leader)

Agroecology, Food Systems and Food Security (MSc-level at Human Security, 10 ECTS; shared course leadership with Jørgen Axelsen, BioScience, AU)

Organic Farming Systems Analysis, Product Quality and Environment (MSc-level, 10ECTS, course leader)

Leader of several PhD courses, e.g. Qualitative Interviewing (2009; 2012; 2015, 2019), ‘Sustainability assessment methods’, ‘Climate change and mitigation’, ‘Ecosystem services’ and ‘Resilience thinking’.

Innovation, Industry collaboration and Technology transfer

I am working as far as possible in a scientific field where all involved own all knowledge and results, and results should be for the public good. At the moment I work in project with industries like Tru-test, Them Dairy, Thise Dairy and Naturmilk as well as Organic Denmark, as partners. Through participation in international projects, I also work together with many European universities and organisations