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Claire Mindus

Position/Title: Ph.D. Candidate
Phone: (519) 803-3814
Office: ANNU 106

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I completed my M.Sc. in Animal Science in France (my homeland) in 2015, majoring in Animal Production. Various internships allowed me to gain experience working on welfare and behaviour research projects on many animal species (goat, pig, rhesus macaque, sheep, broiler) and agricultural systems. Following my masters, I worked at the Technical Institute for Poultry in France for 16 months. I managed many European projects on laying hens’ and broilers’ health, welfare and behaviour with a focus on feather pecking in non-beak-trimmed laying hens. Severe feather pecking is a detrimental behaviour (grasping, pulling and sometimes removal of feathers from a hen by another) and has been a global welfare problem for the laying hen sector for decades.  


I decided to continue my work on feather pecking by joining Dr. Harlander’s team at the University of Guelph in May 2017 as a Ph.D. student. Previous studies on animals suggest a link between gut microbiota, social behaviours, and well-beingMy current research is focusing on the possible link between specific microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts of birds expressing high or low levels of feather pecking behaviourI am investigating methods by which we can manipulate the gut microbiota of laying hens by supplementing them with probiotics and what effects it has on their behaviour and physiology (such as their immune system). Identifying these microbes and mode of actions in order to prevent feather pecking could benefit millions of laying hens worldwide. If you want to more about my research and my results, have a look here!


In my free time, I like to travel and discover more of the world around me. After this PhD, I wish to continue to work, in Europe or in Canada, to improve animal’s welfare in a compatible way with husbandry systems and the industry.