Lori Marino and Debra Merskin, Intelligence, complexity, and individuality in sheep


Marino & Merskin (M&M) provide a timely reminder that sheep have advanced cognitive abilities, but do we still have to provide evidence to justify animal sentience? In the EU, regulations are designed to support farm animal welfare. Whilst the regulations are imperfect, they do emphasize behavioural needs and other concepts relevant to sentience. The persistence of sheep welfare issues such as lamb mortality indicates that regulations may not be achieving their desired goal. We can quibble about the science described by M&M yet reach the same conclusion: sheep (lambs, ewes and rams) are not all identical, but they are all sentient.

Author Biography

Alison Hanlon is Associate Professor, UCD School of Veterinary Medicine, in Ireland. Her interests include interdisciplinary research on farm animal welfare and veterinary ethics. Website