Animal Behavior and Welfare Laboratory

Dr. Courtney Daigle | Undergraduate Students | Graduate Students | Alumni

The individual animal’s experience is critical to assessing and understanding animal welfare.

Our research is aimed at quantifying the behavior of livestock that will provide producers with scientifically supported management strategies to enhance animal welfare and optimize productivity.

Current research interests

  1. Evaluate husbandry practices that will help animal managers utilize temperament and behavior to enhance productivity
  2. Develop and validate technologies designed to biological events (e.g., illness, calving) in cattle and to characterize individual cattle behavior
  3. Examine the impact of exercise and the influence of temperament on immune function and stress responsivity in receiving cattle exposed to common stressors (e.g., commingling, transportation).

Dr. Courtney Daigle



B.S. Zoology (2004) Oklahoma State University

M.S. Zoo & Aquarium Management (2008) Michigan State University

Ph.D. Animal Science (2013) Michigan State University

Postdoctoral training, Purdue University, Center for Animal Welfare Science

Research Interests

Scientific evaluation of animal husbandry and animal management practices.

Develop unbiased metrics to quantify animal welfare and evaluate variability across contexts.

Technology development and validation to collect individual animal information.

Graduate Students

Amanda Mathias

My name is Amanda Mathias and I am from Inola, Oklahoma. I graduated from Oklahoma State University with my Bachelors of Science in Animal Science in May of 2014. I went on to Louisiana State University, where I completed my Master of Science in Animal Science in May of 2017. My research at LSU evaluated the effect the timing of lidocaine administration before calves were dehorned on cortisol, substance p, and adrenocorticotropic hormone. I am here at Texas A&M working on my Ph.D. in Animal Science with an emphasis on Animal Behavior and Welfare. My current research is focusing on the development of a new innovative fear test for cattle, the Bovine Zero Maze, to quantify stress and anxiety.

Rachel Park

Howdy! My name is Rachel Park. I am from Rootstown, Ohio where I grew up showing agricultural animals in 4H. In May of 2017, I graduated from The Ohio State University with my Bachelor of Science in Psychology with Animal Sciences. My research efforts at Ohio State included projects involving swine, dairy cattle, poultry and sheep. Currently, I am a graduate student under Dr. Daigle studying animal welfare with an emphasis on beef cattle. I will be evaluating the impact of environmental enrichment on cattle productivity, health and behavior. When I am not at the farm or in the office, I enjoy spending as much time as possible with family, friends and my two dogs, Mocha and Java Bean.

Emily Van Raay

My name is Emily Van Raay and I am a graduate student in the Animal Welfare and Behavior Lab here at Texas A&M University. I was born and raised in Picture Butte, Alberta, Canada. I possess a B.Sc. in Animal Science from Texas A&M University (graduated May 2017) and I am currently working towards obtaining my M.S. in Animal Science. My research involves creating and validating new quantifiable metrics for beef cattle welfare in the feedyard setting. While I am not studying, I enjoy hiking, exploring the outdoors and spending time with my family and friends.

Undergraduate Students

Caroline Campbell

My name is Caroline Campbell, a cattle enthusiast and Animal Science major! My family owns a small hobby farm specializing in raising and showing beef cattle, and thus animal behavior has always fascinated me. I am pursuing a career in the cattle industry, especially in reproductive and genetic technologies.

Kayla Cates

Howdy! My name is Kayla Cates and I am from Fort Worth, TX! I am a junior majoring in Animal Science and minoring in Poultry Science. Growing up in a big city, most of my animal experience came from having cats and dogs at the house and frequent visits to the city zoo. My interest for animal welfare and behavior grew tremendously after taking a few related classes here at Texas A&M during my freshman and sophomore year. After graduation, I plan on pursuing a Master’s degree in Zoo, Aquarium, and Animal Shelter Management. Upon completion, I intend to work in a field related to animal behavior management at a large city zoo.

Katy Copeland

Howdy! My name is Katy Copeland and I am a senior Biomedical Sciences major from San Antonio Texas. I grew up in the suburbs with two miniature donkeys and about a dozen chickens. I’ve wanted to live on a ranch my whole life where I could raise some livestock. The animal welfare research will show me how to treat the animals that I hope to raise one day.

Faryn Fort

Howdy! My name is Faryn Fort and I am an Animal Science major. I grew up on a small beef cattle farm, where I raised and showed steers and heifers. Because of this, I developed a passion for animal welfare and the ethical treatment of livestock. After graduating, I plan on going to law school to become an agricultural lawyer, specializing in animal welfare law.

Crys Garza

Howdy. My name is Crystobal “Crys” Garza, a sophomore from Dallas, Texas pursuing a degree in Biomedical Sciences. After graduating, I plan on attending professional school. My hobbies include exercising, model building, and reading.

Kim Nguyen

Howdy! My name is Kimberly Nguyen and I am a second-year Biomedical Science major. Ever since I was young, I have always been interested in behavior of both people and animals. Along with my passion for animals, I became interested in the field of animal welfare. I am planning on going to veterinary school to become a veterinarian.

Cassidy Reddout

I’m an animal science major from Helotes, Texas. I plan on graduating with a degree in animal science and a meat certificate in 2018. I hope to attend grad school after graduation and eventually become a professor.

Jessica Sustiata

My name is Jessica Sustaita, and I am a senior Animal Science Major from Corsicana, Texas. I am planning on graduating in December of 2017.


Logan Luskey

My name is Logan Luskey. I am from Dallas, TX. I am undergraduate Animal Science student. In addition to the research lab, I also work for the comparative medicine department as a research animal caretaker. My goal is to continue working in this field after graduation as a research animal technician. My hobbies include hiking, camping, painting, sewing, and dog training.

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