Zoek medewerkers/organisaties dr.ir. JE Bolhuis
Naamdr.ir. JE Bolhuis

OmschrijvingUniversitair hoofddocent
OrganisatieDepartement Dierwetenschappen
Telefoon+31 317 483 978
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BezoekadresDe Elst 1
PostadresPostbus 338
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Curriculum vitae

Liesbeth Bolhuis studied Animal Science at Wageningen University and obtained her MSc degree (with honours) in 1997. She did a PhD on personalities in pigs, combining ethology and physiology, at the same university (degree in 2004). After a part time appointment as teacher at the Ethology Group in 2003, she started at the Adaptation Physiology Group. She is the leader of the Behavioural Physiology research and education within that group, and has supervised 10 PhD students/post docs and more than 80 MSc students. The Behaviour Physiology team strives to maintain a sound mixture of fundamental research, applied research and involvement in experimental developments and is very enthusiastic in disseminating research results to the general public and stakeholders of the livestock industry. A major focus of the team is to study the impact of (early life) environmental conditions on behavioural development, welfare and health of farm animals. Liesbeth has coordinated large successful multi- and interdisciplinary research projects, e.g. one on facilitating the weaning transition for piglets by stimulating mother-offspring information transfer, and one on the consequences of a novel breeding strategy (incorporating social genetic effects) for behaviour and welfare of pigs. She currently coordinates multiple multi- and interdisciplinary projects. She has (co)authored more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers and 4 book chapters.


Behavioural Physiology research

Many welfare and health problems in farm animals arise from a mismatch between the animals’ adaptive capacity and the conditions they are exposed to. We investigate how genetic background, early life experiences and characteristics of the environment influence behavioural and physiological processes that reflect or affect animal welfare, health and productivity. Research is often conducted in collaboration with other groups within the Department of Animal Sciences or the Centre of Animal Welfare and Adaptation (CAWA), and with groups outside Wageningen University.


Research interests (with examples of research topics)

1. Individual (personality) traits affecting behaviour and coping with challenges (Characteristics of  tail biting pigs and feather pecking laying hens; New breeding strategies and welfare and behaviour of pigs; Anxiety and fearfulness; Coping styles; Resilience).

2. Effects of early life conditions on behavioural development (Impact of environmental enrichment and alternative systems on behavioural development and cognition; Early feeding conditions and their impact on behaviour and adaptive capacity).

3. Influence of social interactions and social relationships on behaviour and welfare (Impact of emotional contagion, social support, social learning, affective and injurious behaviours on behaviour and welfare).

4. Effects of feeding strategies on behaviour and welfare (Facilitating the development of independent feeding in piglets to reduce health and welfare problems after weaning; Role of mother-offspring information transfer in the development of feeding behaviour; Fibrous foods and satiety in pigs).

Sociale media
  Liesbeth Bolhuis op Linkedin



Current projects (under construction)

SmartResilience: towards a sustainable, future-oriented pig production system that supports and predicts resilience and welfare in pigs

Dr. Severine Parois (post doc)
Lisette van der Zande (PhD candidate, co-supervised by Prof. dr. ir. T.B. Rodenburg)


Assessing the potential of insects to reduce the environmental impact of livestock production and improve livestock health and welfare in concert

Allyson Ipema (PhD candidate, co-supervised by Dr. ir. W.J.J. Gerrits and Dr. ir. E.A.M. Bokkers)
Alejandro Parodi (PhD candidate, supervised by Dr. ir. H.H.E. van Zanten, Prof. dr. ir. I.J.M. de Boer, Prof. dr. J.J.A. van Loon)

Stimulating early foraging in piglets to accelerate their development and improve their performance around weaning

Raka Choudhury and Anouschka Middelkoop (PhD candidates, co-supervised by prof. dr. M. Kleerebezem)

Environmental enrichment in piglets: behaviour, welfare and the immune system

Lu Luo (PhD candidate, co-supervised by dr. ir. H.K. Parmentier)

Het Familievarken

In collaboration with Dr. Inonge Reimert

Family Feeding Matters

In collaboration with Wageningen Livestock Research. Project leader: Dr. ir. C.M.C. van der Peet-Schwering


Emotional expressions and emotional contagion (a simple form of empathy) in pigs

Dr. Inonge Reimert (post doc)

Contact: Inonge.Reimert@wur.nl


Recently finished projects 

Developing a group housing system for lactating sows and their piglets

In collaboration with Wageningen Livestock Research.

A follow-up project is running (2020). Project leader: Dr. ir. C.M.C. van der Peet-Schwering



Impact of perinatal nutrition on behavioural, physiological and cognitive development of piglets

Dr. Caroline Clouard (post doc)




Predicting, preventing and reducing tail biting and other injurious behaviours in pigs

Dr. ir. Nanda Ursinus (post doc)



Feather pecking and monoamines - a behavioural and neurobiological approach

PhD project Marjolein Kops (Utrecht University)

Daily supervisor/project leader: Dr. S.M. Korte - Utrecht University

Fermentation in the gut to prolong satiety: exploring mechanisms by which dietary fibres affect satiety in pigs

PhD project Carol Souza da Silva

In collaboration with prof. dr. ir. W.J.J. Gerrits - Animal Nutrition Group

Obesity is a major health problem in humans and companion animals. Although obesity is not common in farm animals, food restriction is often used to maintain low feeding costs and performance of, for instance, pregnant sows and fattening pigs. Food restriction may result in hunger and increased feeding motivation, which are associated with behavioural problems. Knowledge on the regulation of satiety is thus crucial to aid in the control of food intake in humans, and to improve welfare in food-restricted animals. Aim of this project was to study satiating properties of dietary fibres.

Learning how to eat like a pig: facilitating vertical information transfer to reduce weaning problems in piglets

PhD project Marije Oostindjer

In collaboration with dr. ir. Henry van den Brand - Adaptation Physiology Group

Piglets are usually weaned abruptly and at a rather young age. Many weanling piglets are poor­ly adapted to ingest solid food, often resulting in a period of underfeeding in the immediate postweaning period and, subsequently, health and welfare problems. Aim of this project was to explore whether providing piglets with more op­portunities to learn from their mother about what, how and where to eat incre­ases food intake and consequently reduces weaning-related problems.





  • Supervisor of BSc thesis students



  • Adaptation Physiology (ADP-30806, coordinator)
  • Lecturer Health, Welfare and Management (ADP-30306)
  • Lecturer Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare (BHE-31306)
  • Supervisor of MSc thesis students
  • Supervisor of Internship students


Information courses ADP

Information courses BHE

  • ADP-30306 - Health, Welfare and Management
  • ADP-30806 - Adaptation Physiology
  • ADP-70424 - MSc Internship Adaptation Physiology
  • ADP-70427 - MSc Internship Adaptation Physiology
  • ADP-70430 - MSc Internship Adaptation Physiology
  • ADP-70433 - MSc Internship Adaptation Physiology
  • ADP-70436 - MSc Internship Adaptation Physiology
  • ADP-70439 - MSc Internship Adaptation Physiology
  • ADP-79324 - MSc Research Practice Adaptation Physiology
  • ADP-80418 - Thesis Adaptation Physiology
  • ADP-80421 - Thesis Adaptation Physiology
  • ADP-80424 - MSc Thesis Adaptation Physiology
  • ADP-80427 - MSc Thesis Adaptation Physiology
  • ADP-80430 - MSc Thesis Adaptation Physiology
  • ADP-80433 - MSc Thesis Adaptation Physiology
  • ADP-80436 - MSc Thesis Adaptation Physiology
  • ADP-80439 - MSc Thesis Adaptation Physiology
  • BHE-31306 - Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare
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