Camille MC Raoult, PhD

About me

Hi! My name is Camille Raoult and I always had a keen interest for animals. "How do they behave and react? How do they perceive their environment? What do they feel? And how, as humans, we can improve our relations with them?" are questions I am asking myself. I had the chance to grow up in the French countryside and to observe from a young age the pet, farm, and wild animals surrounding me. This passion led me to sudy farm animal productions, and later, I decided to pursue with a PhD in animal welfare and cognition. There, I investigated the effect of mood on cognitive judgement and attention biases in animals, and developed a promising attention bias test in sheep to assess mood. Besides, neurosciences passionate me. I am currently continuing my scientific carrier teaching about farm animal cognition, husbandry, welfare and ethology, studying animal (and in particular pig) affective states and cognition, and working on new ways to assess and thus improve animal welfare.

My Research

In January, I started working with Prof. Dr. E. von Borell in the Department of Animal Husbandry and Animal Ecology, Institute of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences, at the Martin-Luther-University of Halle-Wittenberg (Germany). I am currently working on farm animal cognition, husbandry and welfare. In particular, I am developing a research project to assess pig emotional reactions to different situations varying in valence and arousal by using multiple non-invasive indicators. I am also helping PhD students with their publications and co-supervising BSc and MSc students.
I collaborated with Dr. Ruben Schreiter (HTW Dresden, Germany), who investigated, as part of his PhD thesis, the effects of environmental enrichments during the rearing and laying periods in a littered aviary on health, performance and welfare.

Picture of a dairy cow hind legs and the milking cluster unit attached to the udder

From June 2019 to December 2019, I was collaborating with the Centre for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs (ZTHT Tänikon, Switzerland).
The collaboration with Dr. Pascal Savary (ZTHT Tänikon, Switzerland) led to a publication that compares dairy cows’ behavioural data obtained during milking using a 3D accelerometer attached to the milking cluster and direct observations.

The collaboration with Dr. Joan-Bryce Burla (ZTHT Tänikon, Switzerland) is still undergoing. We are investigating the use of Qualitative Behaviour Assessment by Swiss welfare inspectors to reliably measure the compatibility of group-housed horses.

I was also involved in another project in collaboration with Dr. Britta Osthaus (Canterbury Christ Church University), Dr. Alan McElligott (University of Roehampton) and Dr. Christian Nawroth (Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology), investigating spatial cognition and inhibition in goats and sheep using a detour task (manuscript accepted in RSOS).

From June to November 2019, I worked as a 30% research assistant for the Centre for Proper Housing of Poultry and Rabbits, at the Aviforum (ZTHZ Zollikofen, Switzerland), on projects investigating nest box preferences, welfare and activity in broiler breeders and laying hens, using different measurement methods, e.g. direct observations, video recordings, a novel automated tracking system and X-rays. I helped with animal weighing and feeding, tracking systems' calibrations, health assessments, data processing, video observations, as well as with bones collection (i.e. humerus and tibia) and measures of bones elasticity.

Photo of Camille Raoult with broiler breeders in the background

From May 2016 to May 2019, I did my PhD at the Vetsuisse Faculty and the Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences, University of Bern (supervised by Prof. Dr. Hanno Würbel, Head of the Animal Welfare Division, VPHI), working at the Centre for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs in Tänikon (supervised by PD Dr. Lorenz Gygax, now at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin), and funded by the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (Switzerland). The aim of my thesis was to investigate the effect of mood on cognitive judgement and attention biases in animals, while developing an attention bias test in sheep to assess farm animal welfare through mood, using an on-farm setting. I first conducted a review on cognitive bias test studies in animals to test the theory that mood reflects a cumulative expectation mismatch. I found that a cumulative mood induction mismatch cannot well predict the success of a cognitive judgement bias test while a mismatch occurring during the test can modulate or even inverse the expected outcome.

Photo of an AAP in sheep Photo of a sheep equipped with fNIRS and head and ear tracking technologies Photo of the attention test set up for sheep using silent videos of dog and sheep

I also investigated the valence and intensity of silent video stimuli of dogs and conspecifics (i.e. social stimuli) in sheep using three different methods: an approach-avoidance paradigm (AAP), an operant conditioning using video stimuli as reinforcers and an attention test. In the approach-avoidance test, animals’ behaviour (locomotion, exploratory behaviour and attention towards the screens) was recorded using a video camera. In the operant conditioning, sheep could switch on or off the video stimuli and the number of target touch was recorded and assessed as the motivation to see or avoid to see the stimuli. In the attention test, two silent video stimuli (presumed negative and positive) were played simultaneously and sheep attention towards the stimuli was recorded. To do so, I used an automated tracking system for the head and ear positions and movements (using infrared cameras) and a functional near-infrared spectroscopy sensor (fNIRS) to record frontal cortical brain activity. From these explorative experiments, I gained knowledge on understanding animal preferences and visual acuities. Statistical analyses were performed in R. The results from the approach–avoidance paradigm and attention test did not support the assumption that dog videos were more negative than sheep videos, though sheep reacted to the stimuli presented. However, the operant conditioning indicated that sheep were more prone to avoid silent videos of moving dogs. These results indicate that standard video images may not be ideal to represent valence characteristics of stimuli to sheep. The different parts of this work were presented at several conferences.

I additionally studied sheep attention biases towards acoustic stimuli, first by validating that attention could be measure in two groups of sheep (i.e. habituated to tested and naïve sheep). An ethogram was developed to determine sheep attention and side of attention, and sheep number of vocalisations was recorded. Then, negative and positive mood states were experimentally induced in sheep using environmental changes. Sheep were tested for their attention pre and post mood induction in a so-called attention bias test (ABT). Results shows that mood leads to attention biases, and especially, that negative mood drives more attention towards negative stimuli. Besides, sheep that were habituated to be tested vocalised less than naïve sheep, but the mood induction had only a weak effect on the number of vocalisation during the test.

Sheep under positive mood induction Attention bias test in sheep using acoustic stimuli
Sheep target training with Floriane Granger

I supervised a student who first trained sheep to touch a target for a food reward and then investigated the valence of dog and sheep acoustic stimuli in sheep using an operant conditioning paradigm. However, the inconsistent results obtained from the operant conditioning did not permit to draw any conclusion.

During my PhD project, I had the opportunity to help on diverse other projects on different farm animals, including in particuar a Master project on learning capacities and memory in pigs, and a PhD project studying goats’ cognition. It helped me to broaden my knowledge to other animal species.

Photo of a pig
Photo of Camille Raoult and Saanen goats
Photo of the midsagittal section of a sheep brain Photo of CSF samples Photo of the experimental sheep

I carried out my first research project in spring 2014 at Lincoln University, New Zealand, with Prof. Dr. Graham Barrell. Its PhD student at the time, Dr. Michele Wilson, was investigating the potential role of the peptide hormone natriuretic type C as a regulator of brain functions in sheep and red deer (this peptide having a potential role in cardiovascular diseases in humans). On my side, I investigated the effects of a single intravenous injection of dexamethasone on glucose and albumin concentrations in blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in sheep. I first reviewed the anatomical bases concerning the exchanges of liquids between the pituitary tissues and the cerebrospinal fluid with particular focus on the pituitary hormones and the blood-brain barrier. Then, I prepared and attended cranial surgeries to perform a cannulation of the cistern magna. After sheep received dexamethasone or saline solution, I collected blood (centrifuged to obtain plasma and serum) and cerebrospinal fluid samples. I analysed the samples using the hexokinase method (plasma) and a spectrophotometer (CSF) to measure glucose concentrations, and a method employing bromocresol green and spectrophotometric measure (serum) and a combination of polyacrilamide gel electrophoresis and densitometry (CSF) to measure albumin concentrations. I found a positive dose-response relationship between dexamethasone and plasma glucose concentration, and between dexamethasone and serum albumin concentration, but the measurement of albumin in CSF provided unreliable results for any conclusions to be reached about its effects on albumin content of this fluid.

During this research period, I additionally assisted my supervisor in his research in red deer, mentored students to take blood samples and do hoof trimming in sheep, helped other PhD students on their projects (e.g. foetus sheep brain collection), and participated in ewes' laparoscopic artificial inseminations.

Photo of Camille Raoult with red deers
Photo of a dairy cow udder Photo of Orbenin tubes

I did my Master thesis at the Institut de l’élevage in Paris with Brigitte Frappat, conducting a qualitative study in dairy cattle farms to understand the motivations and obstacles to reduce the use of antibiotics and to implement practice changes during the dry-off period. This project was part of the 2017 Ecoantibio national plan that encourages to rethink the use of antibiotics in animal production, particularly because of the risk of antimicrobial resistance development. As a starting point of this huge project, I conducted semi-structured interviews in Brittany with eight conventional farmers and their stakeholders. This qualitative study showed that farmers were well aware of the issues relative to the antibiotics consumption, but they did not see how they could reduce it without taking risks. Additionally, if their vets and advisors were generally motor to change towards less antibiotics use, they sometimes had not enough information or support from their organisations to do so.


CV

Research interests: Studying animals' behaviour, perception, emotions, cognition and welfare by working with new tools and ways to assess and improve their welfare

WORK EXPERIENCES

Since January 2020

Scientific collaborator (PostDoc) in the Department of Animal Husbandry and Animal Ecology, Institute of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences, Martin-Luther-University of Halle-Wittenberg (DE)

June 2019 - December 2019

Collaborating with the Centre for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs (FSVO), Agroscope Tänikon (CH) on different research projects

June 2019 - November 2019

Research assistant at the Centre for Proper Housing of Poultry and Rabbits, employed on a hour-basis (30%) by the Aviforum, Zollikofen (CH)

October 2019

Replacement as a milker, EVS Agroscope Tänikon, Tänikon (CH)

May 2016 - April 2019

PhD student at the Centre of Proper Housing for Ruminants and Pigs (FSVO), Agroscope Tänikon (CH). Thesis topic: “Effect of mood on cognitive judgment and attention biases in animals” supervised by PD Dr. Lorenz Gygax (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin) and Prof. Dr. Hanno Würbel (Vetsuisse Faculty, Bern)

March 2015 - September 2015

Master thesis on qualitative surveys on the use of antibiotics, in link with mastitis, in Breton dairy cattle farms (RedAB project), supervised by Brigitte Frappat, Institut de l’Elevage, Paris 12e (FR)

March 2014 - August 2014

Internship in sheep physiology research (Effects of dexamethasone on glucose and albumin concentrations in blood and cerebrospinal fluid in sheep), supervised by Prof. Dr. Graham Barrell, Lincoln University, Lincoln (NZ)

2009 - 2013

Diverse (1 to 8 weeks) training periods in stud farms (Haras de Touterelle with Mr D’Abzac, Val de Meuse FR, and Mr Jonca, Zbrosławice PL), a veterinary practice and horse insemination centre (as trainee and vet assistant, Haras du Mont Clair with Dr. Vin, Clefmont FR), an organic sheep and goat farm with goat cheese transformation (Ferme des Bois de Vaux with Mr Le-Dû, Bois de Vaux FR), a dairy cow farm (GAEC du Montibi with Mr Leriche, Benoistville FR) and a pig farm with artificial insemination (GAEC Manscourt with Mr Manscourt, Taux FR). Permanencies on the Edgard Pisani Agricultural school farm (Chaumont FR) to assist or help with lambing (Ile-de-France and INRA 401 ewes), calving (Limousine cows) and work with cows and draught horses (Trait Ardennais)

Stud farm Mr D'abzac
Horse insemination center Dr. Vin
Baby goat Mr Le-Dû
Cheese fabrication Mr Le-Dû
Dairy cow farm Mr Leriche
Artificial insemination sow Mr Manscourt
Feeding lamb BTS
Ardennais horses Chaumont

EDUCATION AND QUALIFICATIONS

2016 - 2019

PhD in Biomedical Science with the Latin honours summa cum laude at the Vetsuisse Faculty, Veterinary Public Health Institute, Animal Welfare Division, University of Bern, and the Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences, Bern (CH)

2016 - 2017

Semi-intensive German courses (levels A1-A2-B1), Migros Klubschule, Winterthur (CH)

2016 - 2017

Course for persons conducting animal experiments on ruminants in Switzerland, Vetsuisse faculty, Zürich (CH)

2012 - 2015

Agricultural Engineer Degree, AgroSup Dijon, a National Institute of Agronomy (equivalent to MSc.), animal breeding specialisation, Dijon (FR)

2011 - 2012

Preparatory class for selective competition to engineering and veterinary schools, Olivier de Serres, Quetigny (FR)

2009 - 2011

Higher National Certificate (French BTS) in animal breeding, with honours "bien", Edgard Pisani, Chaumont (FR)

2006 - 2009

Scientific Baccalaureate (equivalent to A-level) with honours "assez bien", Biology specialty and Latin option, Lycée Européen, Villers-Coterrêts (FR)

OTHER SKILLS

Software & devices: R software, Cool Edit, Praat, Microsoft Office package, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), AR tracking system (sheep ears and head, chicken location), pulse oximeter (SpO2), 3D accelerometer (MSR logger)

Languages: French (mother tongue), English (written and spoken fluently), German (written and spoken), Spanish (passive use)

PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES

Manuscript reviewing: Frontiers in Veterinary Science, PeerJ, Scientific Reports

Membership: Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB), International Society for Applied Ethology (ISAE)

Supervision: Floriane Granger, bachelor student (2018)


Publications


Conferences & Talks

CONTRIBUTIONS TO INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES

ISAE 2020 Global Virtual Meeting, Web European Session, August 2020: “Detection of dairy cows’ hind-legs activity during milking using a 3D-accelerometer attached to the milking cluster” (talk) video link

ASAB Winter Meeting, London (UK), December 2018: “Attention bias test in sheep with different induced mood” (talk)

50. Internationale Tagung Angewandt Ethologie, Freiburg (DE), November 2018: “Measuring attention toward acoustic stimuli in sheep” (talk)

ISAE Congress 2018, Prince Edward Island (CA), August 2018: “Assessing differential attention to simultaneous negative and positive video stimuli in sheep: moving toward attention bias” (talk)

49. Internationale Tagung Angewandt Ethologie, Freiburg (DE), November 2017: “Validation of video stimuli in respect to their valence and intensity in sheep using an approach - avoidance paradigm and operant conditioning” (talk)

CONTRIBUTIONS TO REGIONAL MEETINGS AND LOCAL SEMINARS

Projektplattform, Agroscope Tänikon (CH), June 2019: “Aufmerksamkeitsbias-Test bei Schafen” (talk)

BLV Wissensmanagement Besuch, ZTHT, Agroscope Tänikon (CH), June 2019: “Aufmerksamkeitsbias bei Schafen” (talk)

Public PhD thesis defense, University of Bern, Bern (CH), May 15th 2019: “Effect of mood on cognitive judgement and attention biases in animals” (talk)

Seminar for PhD candidates, Agroscope Tänikon (CH), April 2019: “Effect of mood on cognitive judgement and attention biases” (talk)

Symposium of the Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences Symposium in Bern (CH), January 2019: “Attention bias test in sheep” (talk)

Seminar for PhD candidates, Agroscope Tänikon (CH), November 2018: “Attention bias test in sheep with different induced mood” (talk)

Swiss Walks and Talks, Ranflüh (CH), June 2018: “Toward an attention bias test in sheep using acoustic stimuli” (talk)

Public Thesis Mid-term Evaluation, Division of Animal Welfare, University of Bern, Bern (CH), February 2018: “Development of an attention test in sheep to assess farm animal welfare” (talk)

Seminar for PhD students, Agroscope Tänikon (CH), July 2018: “Assessing differential attention to simultaneous negative and positive video stimuli in sheep: moving toward attention bias” (talk)

Symposium of the Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences Symposium in Bern (CH), January 2018: “Mood as cumulative expectation mismatch: A test of theory based on data from non-verbal cognitive bias tests” (poster)

Tierhaltungssysteme & Ethologie's team seminar, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Berlin (DE), November 2017: “Validation of video stimuli in respect to their valence and intensity in sheep using an approach - avoidance paradigm and operant conditioning” (talk)

Swiss Walks and Talks, Kandersteg (CH), June 2017: “Validation of video stimuli in respect to their valence and intensity in sheep using an approach - avoidance paradigm and operant conditioning” (talk)

Presentation for the Besuchstag HAFL - Studierende Agrarwirtschaft, Agroscope Tänikon (CH): “Attention bias test in sheep: using social videos, approach-avoidance paradigm and operant conditioning” (talk)

Swiss Walks and Talks, Churwalden (CH), June 2016: “Development of an attention bias test in sheep to assess farm animal welfare - Part 1. Choice of positive-negative stimulus pair with well-balanced strength” (talk)

Seminar for PhD students, Agroscope Tänikon (CH), May 2016: “Development of an attention bias test in sheep to assess farm animal welfare - Part 1. Choice of positive-negative stimulus pair with well-balanced strength” (talk)

Contact

Animal Husbandry and Animal Ecology
Institute of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences
Natural Sciences Faculty III
Martin-Luther-University of Halle-Wittenberg
Theodor-Lieser-Straße 11
06120 Halle (Saale), Germany

camille.raoult@landw.uni-halle.de