Sara Hintze


Dr. Sara Hintze

My enthusiasm for applied ethology and animal welfare science emerged with my first lectures on these topics as a vet student at the University of Giessen, Germany. Aiming to gain some insight into the day-to-day work of an animal welfare scientist, I got involved in projects on abnormal repetitive behaviour in mice and dogs in the Division of Animal Welfare and Ethology in Giessen. My interest in the underlying mechanisms and the effects of abnormal repetitive behaviour on animal welfare started to develop, and the experiences I made during this time further strengthened my wish to become an animal welfare scientist.

After graduating from vet school, I gained some field experience in ethology at the Konrad Lorenz Research Station in Grünau, Austria, investigating the influence of intestinal parasites on the behaviour of hand-raised greylag goslings. Subsequently, I participated in the masters programme ‘Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare’ at the University of Edinburgh, UK, which I completed with a thesis on causes and consequences of mounting behaviour in finishing pigs supervised by Rick D’Eath.

Following the masters programme, I did my PhD on emotions in horses in the Division of Animal Welfare at the University of Bern, Switzerland, under the supervision of Hanno Würbel. During my PhD, I used both cognitive (judgement bias task) and behavioural measures (facial expressions, Qualitative Behaviour Assessment) aiming to identify indicators of emotional valence in horses. Besides my work with the horses, I learned more about lab rodent behaviour and welfare, being involved in a project on positive facial expressions in rats and the refinement of the judgement bias task for mice and rats. Moreover, I started to become very interested in the refinement and the scientific validity of animal experiments.

In my postdoc position here at the BOKU, I have the opportunity to learn more about farm animal behaviour and welfare, and to gain knowledge of a topic that is completely new to me, namely on-farm welfare assessments. Besides these exciting new aspects, I am continuing with research on the fascinating but also challenging topic of animal emotion. Currently, I focus on different forms of inactivity in farm animals and the question of what inactivity might mean for the welfare of these animals. Moreover, I am involved in teaching ethology and animal welfare, and in supervising different projects. 

Journal articles

Hintze S
, Murphy E, Bachmann I, Wemelsfelder F, Würbel H 2017. Qualitative Behaviour Assessment of horses exposed to short-term emotional treatments. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 196, 44-51. Abstract

Hintze S, Roth E, Bachmann I, Würbel H 2017. Towards a choice-based judgement bias task for horses. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. DOI: 10.1080/10888705.2016.1276834. Abstract

Hintze S, Smith S, Patt A, Bachmann I, Würbel H 2016. Are eyes a mirror of the soul? What eye wrinkles reveal about a horse’s emotional state. PLoS ONE 11(10):e0164017. Abstract

Finlayson K, Lampe JF, Hintze S, Würbel H, Melotti L 2016. Facial indicators of positive emotions in rats. PLoS ONE 11(11): e0166446. Abstract

Bailoo J, Varholick J, Garza X, Jordon R, Hintze S 2016. Maternal separation followed by isolation-housing differentially affects prepulse inhibition of the acoustic startle response in C57BL/6 mice. Developmental Psychobiology, 9999, 1-8. Abstract

Hintze S, Scott D, Turner S, Meddle SL, D´Eath RB 2013. Mounting behaviour in finishing pigs: Stable individual differences are not due to dominance or stage of sexual development. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 147, 69-80. Abstract

Kaulfuss P, Hintze S, Würbel H 2009. Effects of tryptophan as dietary supplement on dogs with
abnormal-repetitive behaviors. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research,
4, 97. Abstract