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Stefan Gunnarsson

Stefan Gunnarsson
Senior lecturer in sustainable animal production in large herds, with special responsibility for extension service


Doctor of veterinary medicine, Phd, Associate professor, Diplomate of the European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine, Sub-Speciality Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law (ECAWBM-AWSEL)

My general research interest has been health and welfare of poultry, pigs, cattle, and fish. Furthermore, I have worked with evaluation of sustainable farming and food production, incl. organic animal production. Another research area has been the philosophy of health and welfare comparing humans and animals.

My interest in interacting with stakeholders is strong, and I was the chairman of the Animal Welfare Committee of the Swedish Veterinary association(2013-2016), Member in the Animal Welfare council (2013-2016) and the expert group of laying hens of Swedish national board of agriculture (2000-2016). Furthermore, I was the Chairman of the scientific council of the Swedish Organic certification organisation KRAV 2013-2016.

Scientific co-ordinator for Workshop in poultry welfare 2012-2021 (Better Training for Safer Food organised by the EU Commission).

Chairman of the OIE Working group on animal welfare and laying hens production systems 2016-2020.


My teaching experience includes under-graduate students on basic and advanced level incl. PhD course, as well as other target groups for teaching including that I have been invited lecturer to stakeholder’s courses since 1992. At the moment I am main supervisor of two PhD students (externally funded) and I have main supervised 1 and co-supervised 3 PhD students.  I have been the Scientific co-ordinator for Workshop in animal welfare in broiler chickens and laying hens (Better Training for Safer Food organised by the EU Commission, DG Sanco 2012-2016).


I perform research in pigs, laying hens and organic broiler chickens, as well as in sustainable animal production. Furthermore, I have been the coordinator for the Swedish part of the European project Farewelldock - Tail docking, tail biting, health and enrichment in pigs.

The FreeBirds project will generate more insight in the relation between chickens’ free range use and health and welfare of the chickens, as well as, to the consequences for the nutrient load of the soil. The project also aims to develop smart tools and management strategies for improvement of the free-range system for organic poultry. Participating countries are Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Turkey, and Belgium, and is coordinated by me.

FAFSynt - Efficiency and Sustainability of Future Animal Food from Swedish farms and water – The primary production, in collaboration with RISE (coordination Stefan Gunnarsson). The general aim of the project is to identify the state of the art, bottlenecks and future solutions in sustainable farm animal production, with main focus on the primary production, in the context of stakeholder knowledge and opinions. The final aim is to establish a tentative agenda for prioritised areas of future research in a multi stakeholder approach.

I am also involved in a project about Organic broilers, and in the Horizon 2020 project Hennovation and 4D4F-Data Driven Dairy Decision For Farmers



In 1992 I became Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, and I took my PhD in 2000, I was Associate professor (Docent) in 2009, and in 2012 Diplomate of the European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine, Sub-Specialty Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law (ECAWBM-AWSEL). I was appointed to the chair of Senior lecturer in Sustainable animal production in 2012.

In my background I have had a wide interest in animal welfare including health, in conventional farming as well as in organic farming. Furthermore, I have a vast experience animal welfare and health in livestock species, i.e. poultry, pigs and cattle, as well as, in game birds and fish. Most of my studies (~200 publications) have been performed in interdisciplinary groups (incl. environmental scientists, philosophers and social scientists) in areas of animal welfare and health in farm animals, nationally and internationally. Through this I have an extended network of scientists nationally and internationally and I have been interacting with stakeholders (incl. authorities in Sweden and DG Sanco). I have a general interest in philosophy and ethics (incl. studies prior to my veterinary degree) which is fundamental in the debate about Animal welfare. I have demonstrated that I am competitive in receiving money, eg. ERA-net, Core organic and Horizon 2020 funding. My international work includes being Secretary General in the International Society for Animal Hygiene 2009-2017.

In 2004 to 2012 I was head of the department of Animal Environment and Health of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal science at the Swedish University of agricultural sciences (SLU) in Skara and Uppsala. Twice I was re-elected, and I resigned after 8.5 years when I was appointed senior lecturer in Senior lecturer in sustainable animal production in large herds, with extension duties.

Studies at the University of Lund, Sweden in 1984-1986

a. Basic philosophy 1 year (including Logics, Philosophy of science and Ethics) 1986

b. History of ideas and sciences (Idé- och lärdomshistoria), 0.5 year, 1986

c. History of literature (Litteraturvetenskap), 1.5 year, 1985


I am supervising animal scientist Torun Wallgren, PhD student within Farewelldock, Lina Göransson veterinarian PhD student within FreeBirds. Furthermore, I supervise undergraduate students in their final year projects within the ethology and welfare, veterinary program and msc in animal science.

Selected publications

Popular reports (only in english)

Pedersen, L. J., Vestbjerg Larsen, M. L., Jensen, M. B., Wallgren, T. and S. Gunnarsson, 2017. How can enrichment help to reduce tail docking? Pig progess Sep 13, 2017. Link

Books/Book chapters

Ekesbo, I. and S. Gunnarsson. 2018. Farm animal behaviour. Characteristics for Assessment of Health and Welfare. 2nd Edition. CAB International, Wallingford, UK. ix + 341 pages. Link

Gunnarsson, S. 2018. Technologies for Increasing the Productivity of Poultry: Welfare Implications. In: Are We Pushing Animals to Their Biological Limits? Welfare and Ethical Implications (Ed. Grandin, T. and M. Whiting). CABI Wallingford, UK. pp 63-75. Link

Gunnarsson, S. 2018. Utvärdering av systemet ”Veranda Breeder” för värphöns och tuppar i produktion av kläckägg (Evaluation of the Veranda Breeder system for breeding birds of layer strains). Dept. of Animal Environment and health, SLU Skara. Report 50. 44 pages. Länk


Scientific papers

Jung, L., Niebuhr, K., Hinrichsen, L.K., Gunnarsson, S., Brenninkmeyer, C., Bestman, M., Heerkens, J., Ferrari, P. and U. Knierim, 2019. Possible risk factors for keel bone damage in organic laying hens. Animal, 2019:1-9, doi: 10.1017/S175173111900003X

Wallgren, T., Larsen, A. and S. Gunnarsson, 2019. Tail posture as an indicator of tail biting in undocked finishing pigs. Animals, 9(1): 18. doi:10.3390/ani9010018

Wilhelmsson, S., Yngvesson, J., Jönsson, L., Gunnarsson, S and A. Wallenbeck. 2019. Welfare Quality® assessment of a fast-growing and a slower-growing broiler hybrid, reared until 10 weeks and fed a low-protein, high-protein or mussel-meal diet. Livestock science, 219: 71-79. doi:10.1016/j.livsci.2018.11.010

Wallgren, T., Larsen, A., Lundeheim, N., Westin, R. & Gunnarsson, S. 2019. Implication and impact of straw provision on behaviour, lesions and pen hygiene on commercial farms rearing undocked pigs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 210: 26-37. doi: 10.1016/j.applanim.2018.10.013

Röös, E., Mie, A., Wivstad, M., Salomon, E., Johansson, B., Gunnarsson, S., Wallenbeck, A., Hoffmann, R., Nilsson, U., Sundberg, C. and C.A. Watson. 2018. Risks and opportunities of increasing yields in organic farming. A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 38:14. doi: 10.1007/s13593-018-0489-3

Rezaei, M., Yngvesson, J., Gunnarsson, S., Jönsson, L., Wallenbeck, A., 2018. Feed efficiency, growth performance and carcass characteristics of a fast and a slower growing broiler hybrid fed low- or high-protein organic diets. Organic Agriculture, 8: 121–128. doi: 10.1007/s13165-017-0178-6

Mie, A., Andersen, H.R., Gunnarsson, S., Kahl, J., Kesse-Guyot, E., Rembiałkowska, E., Quaglio, G. and Ph. Grandjean. 2017. Human health implications of organic food and organic agriculture: a comprehensive review. Environmental Health, 16: 111. 22 pages. doi:10.1186/s12940-017-0315-4

Bestman, M., Verwer, C., Brenninkmeyer, C., Willet, A., Hinrichsen, L.K., Smajlhodzic, F., Heerkens, J.L.T., Gunnarsson, S and Ferrante, V., 2017. Feather pecking and injurious pecking in organic laying hens in 107 flocks from 8 European countries. Animal Welfare, 26:355-363. doi: 10.7120/09627286.26.3.355

Yngvesson, J., Wedin, M., Gunnarsson, S, Jönsson, L., Blokhuis, H. and A. Wallenbeck. 2017. Let me sleep! - Welfare of broilers (Gallus gallus domesticus) with disrupted resting behaviour. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section A - Animal Sciences, 67:123-133. doi: 10.1080/09064702.2018.1485729

Sonesson, U., Lorentzon, K., Andersson, A., Barr, U.-K., Bertilsson, J., Borch, E., Brunius, C., Emanuelsson, M., Göransson, L., Gunnarsson, S., Hamberg, L., Hessle, A., Kumm, K.-I., Lundh, Å., Nielsen, T., Östergren, K., Salomon, E., Sindhöj, E., Stenberg, B., Stenberg, M., Sundberg, M. and Wall, H., 2016. Paths to a sustainable food sector: integrated design and LCA of future food supply chains: the case of pork production in Sweden. Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. 21:664–676. doi: 10.1007/s11367-015-0969-5


Senior Lecturer at the Department of Animal Environment and Health; Division of Environment, Care and Herd Health
Telephone: 0511-67216
Work description: Research in Animal Hygiene, mainly in poultry and pigs, sustainable animal husbandry and the philosophy of health in animal and humans.
Postal address:
Inst för husdjurens miljö och hälsa, Box 234
532 23 SKARA
Visiting address: Gråbrödragatan 19, Skara