Department: Pathobiology and Population Sciences

Campus: Hawkshead

Research Groups: Sustainable Food Systems

Since retiring in 2019 Claire has maintained her association with RVC as Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Reproduction. Her research interests are based on ruminant reproduction, including investingations of the interactions of fertility with metabolism, disease and genotype in dairy cows. She is continuing to investigate factors affecting calf health.

Claire gained a first class degree in Zoology from the University of Birmingham followed, in 1978, by a PhD in dairy cow fertility at the University of Nottingham. Before joining the Royal Veterinary College in 1994, she worked for 10 years as a lecturer, then as reader in the Department of Anatomy, University of Bristol, obtaining a DSc from Bristol in 1990. This was followed by 4 years in a research post at the Babraham Institute. She retired in 2019 and is now maintaining her association with RVC as an Emeritus Professor.

At the RVC Claire has served on a variety of committees including a long spell as Chairman of the Graduate School Committee. As Head of the Reproduction and Development Group for 12 years from 1995-2007 she was active in promoting research in this area, which was assessed as internationally competitive in the Research Assessment Exercises. She also established an elective in Reproduction for final year veterinary students. Externally she was Chairman of the BBSRC Steering Committee on ARK-Genomics from 2000-2008 and a member of the Horserace Betting Levy Board Veterinary Advisory Committee between 1997 and 2006.  She was awarded the Research Medal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) in 2006 with respect to her research on dairy cow fertility and the Marshall Medal by the Society for the Study of Fertility in 2015. In 2009 she was made a guest professor at Huazhong Agricultural University, China and in 2016 she was also appointed as a visiting Professor at the University of Reading, UK. She is a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society of England and is a Fellow and Council member of the Royal Society of Biology (RSB).  In 2019 she was awarded honorary membership of the British Society of Animal Science and her biography was included in Who’s Who. She has been appointed as Honorary Secretary of the RSB from May 2022


Claire's main research interests are in the general area of ruminant reproduction and she has published over 280 papers in this area with a current h-index of 57. Her PhD work led to the development of milk progesterone profiles for monitoring fertility in dairy cows. Work at Bristol led to the discovery that oxytocin is an ovarian hormone in ruminants and was followed by investigations into the control of luteolysis, ovarian function and parturition, placental development and the causes of early embryo mortality in cattle and sheep. At the RVC her research into the underlying causes of poor fertility in cattle continued, in particular studying the interactions with metabolism, disease and genotype. She is also interested in calf development and how that impacts on future performance. She has supervised over 30 PhD students. Much of this work has involved collaboration both nationally and internationally, particularly with a number of valued colleagues in the EU and China.

Selected papers since 2010

DC Wathes, Z Cheng, M Salavati, L Buggiotti, H Takeda, L Tang, F Becker, KI Ingvartsen, C Ferris, M Hosten, MA Crowe, and the GplusE consortium. (2021) Relationships between metabolic profiles and gene expression in liver and leukocytes of dairy cows in early lactation. Journal of Dairy Science. 104:1–21.  

KF Johnson, N Chancellor, DC Wathes. (2021) A cohort study risk factor analysis for endemic disease in pre-weaned dairy heifer calves. Animals. 11, 378.

SA Mahendran, DC Wathes, R Booth, N Blackie (2021) The health and behavioural effects of individual versus pair housing of calves at different ages on a UK commercial dairy farm. Animals 11, 612.

K Wang, C Thomas, S Zhang, DC Wathes, Z Cheng (2021) Comparison of the ability of high and low virulence strains of noncytopathic bovine viral diarrhoea virus-1 to modulate expression of interferon tau stimulated genes in bovine endometrium.  Frontiers in Veterinary Science 8, doi: 10.3389/fvets.2021.659330.

Z Cheng, A Wylie, C Ferris, KL Ingvartsen, DC Wathes and GplusE consortium (2021)  Effect of diet and non-esterified fatty acid levels on global transcriptomic profiles in circulating peripheral blood mononuclear cells in early lactation dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science. 104,

Z Cheng,  L Buggiotti, M Salavati, C Marchitelli, S Palma-Vera, A Wylie, H Takeda, L Tang, MA Crowe, DC Wathes and GplusE consortium (2021) Global transcriptomic profiles of circulating leucocytes in early lactation cows with clinical or subclinical mastitis. Molecular Biology Reports.

L Buggiotti, Z Cheng, M Salavati, DC Wathes, and the Genotype plus Environment Consortium (2021)  Comparison of the transcriptome in circulating leukocytes in early lactation between primiparous and multiparous cows provides evidence for age-related changes. BMC Genomics. 22(1):693. doi: 10.1186/s12864-021-07977-5.

S Mahendran, R Booth, DC Wathes and N Blackie (2021) A survey of calf management practices and farmer perceptions of calf housing in UK dairy herds. Journal of Dairy Science. 105,

A Kahler, IM McGonnell, H Smart, AA Kowalski, KC Smith, DC Wathes, AM de Mestre (2021)  Fetal morphological features and abnormalities associated with equine early pregnancy loss. Equine Veterinary Journal. 53:530–541. doi: 10.1111/evj.13340

DC Wathes. Author/co-author of five chapters in Handbook of Calf Health & Management: A Guide to Best Practice Care for Calves (2021). Ed S Mahendran. 5M Publishing. ISBN 9781789181340  Pub. 5M Books Ltd © 2021

MA Krogh , M Hostens, M Salavati, C Grelet, MT Sorensen, DC Wathes, CP Ferris, C Marchitelli, F Signorelli, F Napolitano, F Becker, T Larsen, E Matthews, F Carter, A Vanlierde, G Opsomer, N Gengler, F Deharen, MA Crowe, KL Ingvartsen and L Foldager (2020) Between- and within-herd variation in blood and milk biomarkers in Holstein cows in early lactation Animal. 14: 1067-1075. doi:10.1017/S1751731119002659

Z Cheng, LE Brown, DC Wathes (2020) Bovine viral diarrhoea virus infection disrupts uterine interferon stimulated gene regulatory pathways during pregnancy recognition in cows. Viruses 12, 1; doi:10.3390/v12010001

CA Shilton, A Kahler, BW Davis, JR Crabtree, J Crowhurst, AJ McGladdery, DC Wathes, T Raudsepp, AM. de Mestre (2020) Whole genome analysis reveals aneuploidies in early pregnancy loss in the horse. Scientific Reports 10, 13314 (2020).

L Buggiotti, Z Cheng, DC Wathes and GplusE consortium. (2020) Mining the unmapped reads in bovine RNA-seq data reveals the prevalence of bovine herpes virus-6 in European dairy cows and the associated changes in their phenotype and leucocyte transcriptome. Viruses 12, 1451; doi:10.3390/v12121451

DC Wathes, CF Oguejiofor, C Thomas and Z Cheng (2020) Importance of viral disease in dairy cow fertility. Engineering.  Engineering 6, 26–33.

X Chen, S Zhang, Z Cheng, G E Pollott, D C Wathes (2019) Association between single nucleotide polymorphism in RelA with somatic cell count and longevity supports importance of NF-κB signalling in cattle health. Open Journal of Animal Sciences 9, 51-64.

AM de Mestre, BV Rose, YM Chang, DC Wathes, K Verheyen (2019) Multivariable analysis to determine risk factors associated with early pregnancy loss in thoroughbred broodmares. Theriogenology 124: 18-23.

KF Johnson, R Vinod Nair and DC Wathes (2019) Comparison of the effects of high and low milk replacer feeding regimes on health and growth of crossbred dairy heifers. Animal Production Science 59: 1648–1659

CF Oguejiofor, C Thomas, Z Cheng and DC Wathes (2019) Mechanisms linking bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) infection with infertility in cattle. Animal Health Research Reviews 20, 72–85.

B Rose, M Firth, B Morris, J.M.Roach, DC Wathes, KLP Verheyen and AM de Mestre (2018) Descriptive study of current therapeutic practices, clinical reproductive findings and incidence of pregnancy loss in intensively managed thoroughbred mares Animal Reproduction Science 188:74-84.

W Marei, W Khalil, PGA Pushpakumara, MA El-Harairy, AMA Abo El-Atta, DC Wathes, A Fouladi (2018) Polyunsaturated fatty acids influence offspring sex ratio in cows International Journal of Veterinary Science and Medicine   Supplement 6: S36-40.

DC Wathes and Z Cheng (2018) Polyunsaturated fatty biosynthesis and metabolism in reproductive tissues. Pp157-180. In Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Metabolism, Ed: GC Burdge. Elsevier, Academic Press. ISBN: 978-0-12-811230-4.

CF Oguejiofor, Z Cheng and DC Wathes (2018) Regulation of innate immunity within the endometrium of the bovine uterus during infection. CABI Reviews. In press.

AC Boulton, J. Rushton and DC Wathes (2017) An empirical analysis of the cost of rearing dairy heifers from birth to first calving and the time taken to repay these costs. Animal 11: 1372-1380.

CF Oguejiofor, Z Cheng, AA Fouladi-Nashta and DC Wathes (2017) Bovine endometrial cells mount innate immune response to the intracellular ligands CL097 and poly(dA:dT) indicating roles against uterine viruses. Open Journal of Animal Sciences 7:110-126

Z Cheng, L Chauhan, AT Barry, A Abudureyimu, CF Oguejiofor, X Chen and DC Wathes (2017) Acute bovine diarrhea virus infection inhibits expression of interferon tau-stimulated genes in bovine endometrium. Biology of Reproduction 96: 1142-1153

X Chen, S Zhang, Z Cheng, JS Cooke, D Werling, DC Wathes and GE Pollott (2017) Polymorphisms in the selectin gene cluster are associated with fertility and survival time in a population of Holstein Friesian cows. PLoS One 12:e0175555

A Ali, DC Wathes, A Swali, H Burns and S Burns (2017). A novel mammalian glucokinase exhibiting exclusive inorganic polyphosphate dependence in the cell nucleus. Biochemical and Biophysical Reports 12: 151-157

KF Johnson, N Chancellor, CC Burn and DC Wathes (2017) Analysis of pre-weaning feeding policies and other risk factors affecting growth rates of calves on 11 commercial dairy farms. Animal 12: 1413-1423. Doi:10.1017/S1751731117003160

KF Johnson, N Chancellor, CC Burn and DC Wathes (2017) Prospective cohort study to assess rates of contagious disease in pre-weaned UK dairy heifers: management practices, passive transfer of immunity and associated calf health. Veterinary Record Open 4:e000226.

WF Marei, DC Wathes, KA Raheem, O Mohey-Elsaeed, F Ghafari, AA Fouladi-Nashta (2016) Influence of hyaluronan on endometrial receptivity and embryo attachment in sheep. Reproduction, Fertility and Development. doi: 10.1071/RD16232. ePub ahead of print.

Z Cheng, A Abudureyimu, CF Oguejiofor, R Ellis, AT Barry, X Chen, OL Anstaett, J Brownlie and DC Wathes (2016) BVDV alters uterine prostaglandin production during pregnancy recognition in cows. Reproduction 151:605-614.

BV Rose, V Cabrera-Sharp, MJ Firth, FE Barrelet, S Bate, IJ Cameron, JR Crabtree, J Crowhurst, AJ McGladdery, H Neal, J Pynn, OD Pynn, C Smith, Z Wise, KLP Verheyen, DC Wathes and AM de Mestre (2016) A method for isolating and culturing placental cells from failed early equine pregnancies. Placenta 38:107-111.

X Chen, Z Cheng, D Werling, GE Pollott, M Salavati, KF. Johnson, DC Wathes and S Zhang (2016) Bovine P-selectin mediates leucocyte adhesion and is highly polymorphic in dairy breeds. Research in Veterinary Science 108: 85-92.

Z Cheng, DRE Abayasekara, M Elmes, S Kirkup and DC Wathes (2015) Effect of oleic acid supplementation on prostaglandin production in maternal endometrial and fetal allantochorion cells isolated from late gestation ewes. Placenta 36: 1011-1017.

AC Boulton, J Rushton and DC Wathes (2015) Analysis of management and costs associated with  rearing pregnant dairy heifers in the UK from conception to caving. Open Journal of Animal Sciences 5: 474-485.

X Chen, Z Cheng, S Zhang, D Werling and DC Wathes (2015) Analysis of candidate innate immune genes and signaling pathways influencing mastitis resistance in dairy cows. Open Journal of Animal Sciences 5: 358-393.

CF Oguejiofor, Z Cheng, A Abudureyimu, OL Anstaett, J Brownlie, AA Fouladi-Nashta and DC Wathes (2015) Global transcriptomic profiling of bovine endometrial immune response in vitro. II. Effect of bovine viral diarrhea virus on the endometrial response to lipopolysaccharide. Biology of Reproduction 93:101.

CF Oguejiofor, Z Cheng, A Abudureyimu, AA Fouladi-Nashta and DC Wathes (2015) Global transcriptomic profiling of bovine endometrial immune response in vitro. I. Effect of lipopolysaccharide on innate immunity. Biology of Reproduction 93: 100.

Z Cheng, CF Oguejiofor, T Swangchan-Uthai, S Carr and DC Wathes (2015) Relationships between circulating urea concentrations and endometrial function in postpartum dairy cows. Animals (Basel) 5:748-773.

AC Boulton, J Rushton and DC Wathes (2015) The management and associated costs of rearing heifers on UK dairy farms from weaning to conception. Open Journal of Animal Sciences 5: 294-308.

AC Boulton, J Rushton and DC Wathes (2015) A study of dairy heifer rearing practices from birth to weaning and their associated costs on UK dairy farms. Open Journal of Animal Sciences 5: 185-197.

MJ Elmes, A Szyszka, C Pauliat, B Clifford, Z Daniel, Z Cheng, DC Wathes and S McMullen. (2015) Maternal age effects on myometrial expression of contractile proteins, uterine gene expression and contractile activity during labor in the rat.  Physiological Reports 3: e12305

NA Lyons, JS Cooke, S Wilson, SC van Winden PJ Gordon and DC Wathes (2014) Relationships between metabolite and IGF1 concentrations with fertility and production outcomes following left abomasal displacement. Veterinary Record 174:657.

DC Wathes, GE Pollott, KF Johnson, H Richardson and JS Cooke (2014) Heifer fertility and carry over consequences for life time production in dairy and beef cattle. Animal 8: Suppl 1, 91-104.

S Patel S, J Gibbons  and DC Wathes (2014) Ensuring optimal colostrum transfer to newborn dairy calves. Cattle Practice 22 Part 1, 95 – 104.

 WF Marei, DRE Abayasekara, DC Wathes and AA Fouladi-Nashta (2014) Role of PTGS2-generated PGE2 during gonadotrophin-induced bovine oocyte maturation and cumulus cell expansion. Reproductive Biomedicine Online 28:388-400.

GE Pollott, A Charlesworth and DC Wathes (2014) Possibilities to improve the genetic evaluation of a rare breed using limited genomic information and multivariate BLUP. Animal 8:5 685-694.

 JS Cooke, Z Cheng, NE Bourne and DC Wathes (2013) Association between growth rates, age at first calving and subsequent fertility, milk production and survival in Holstein-Friesian heifers. Open Journal of Animal Sciences 3: 1-12.

T Swangchan-Uthai, Q Chen, SE Kirton, MA Fenwick, Z Cheng, J Paton, A.A. Fouladi-Nashta and D.C. Wathes (2013). Influence of energy balance on the antimicrobial peptides S100A8 and S100A9 in the endometrium of the post-partum dairy cow. Reproduction 145: 527-539.

GE Mann, DC Wathes, RS Robinson (2013) The progesterone receptor antagonist,onapristone has differential effects on the timing and control of the luteolytic mechanism depending on timing of administration in sheep. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 376:1-11.

Z Cheng, DRE Abayasekara, F Ward, DMW Preece, KA Raheem, DC Wathes (2013) Altering n-3 to n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid ratios affects prostaglandin production by ovine uterine endometrium. Animal Reproduction Science. 143:38-47. [0 citations]

 DC Wathes, Z Cheng, W Marei, and A Fouladi-Nashta (2013) Polyunsaturated fatty acids and fertility in female mammals – an update. CAB Reviews.  Published on-line at ISSN 1749-8848.

 DC Wathes, T Swangchan-Uthai, CF Oguejiofor, Z Cheng (2013) Energy balance, immune function and fertility in the postpartum dairy cow. Cattle Practice 21, 129-137

WF Marei, DC Wathes and AA Fouladi-Nashta (2012) Differential effects of linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid on spatial and temporal mitochondrial distribution and activity in bovine oocytes. Reproduction, Fertility and Development 24:679-90.

DC Wathes, AM Clempson and GE Pollott (2013) Associations between lipid metabolism and fertility in the dairy cow. Reproduction, Fertility and Development 25, 1-14.

 DC Wathes (2012) Mechanisms linking metabolic status and disease with reproductive outcome in the dairy cow. Reproduction in Domestic Animals  47 (Suppl 4), 1-9.

T Swangchan-Uthai, CRM Lavender, Z Cheng, AA Fouladi-Nashta and DC Wathes (2012) Time course of defence mechanisms in bovine endometrium in response to lipopolysaccharide. Biology of Reproduction 87: 1-13.

DC Wathes, Z Cheng, MA Fenwick, R Fitzpatrick and J Patton (2011). Influence of energy balance on the somatotrophic axis and matrix metalloproteinase expression in the endometrium of the postpartum cow dairy cow Reproduction 141: 269-281.

 AM Clempson, GE Pollott, JS Brickell, NE Bourne, N. Munce and DC Wathes. (2011) Evidence that leptin genotype is associated with fertility independently of effects on growth and milk production. Journal of Dairy Science 94: 3618-3628.

 JS Brickell and DC Wathes (2011) A descriptive study of the survival of Holstein–Friesian heifers through to third calving on English dairy farms. Journal of Dairy Science 94: 1831-1838.

 AM Clempson, GE Pollott, JS Brickell, NE Bourne, N. Munce and DC Wathes (2011) Polymorphisms in the autosomal genes for mitochondrial function TFAM and UCP2 are associated with performance and longevity in UK dairy cows. Animal 5:9 1335-1343.

 T Swangchan-Uthai, SW Walsh, SLH Alexander, Z Cheng, MA Crowe, ACO Evans and DC Wathes (2011) Comparison between dairy heifers and lactating cows of the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system in the oviduct during the peri-oestrous period. Reproduction 142: 457-465.

 KF Johnson, CC Burn and DC Wathes (2011) Rates and risk factors for contagious disease and mortality in young dairy heifers. CAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources 6 No. 059.

JS Brickell, GE Pollott, AM Clempson, N Otter and DC Wathes (2010) Polymorphisms in the bovine leptin gene associated with perinatal mortality in Holstein-Friesian heifers. Journal of Dairy Science 93: 340-347.

AM Mani, MA Fenwick, Z Cheng, MK Sharma, D Singh and DC Wathes (2010) IGF1 induces up-regulation of steroidogenic and apoptotic regulatory genes via activation of phosphatidylinositol-dependent kinase/AKT in bovine granulosa cells. Reproduction 139: 139-151.

 WF Marei, DC Wathes and AA. Fouladi-Nashta (2010) Effects of linoleic acid on bovine oocyte maturation and embryo development. Reproduction 139: 979-988.

SD McCarthy SM Waters, DA Kenny, MG Diskin, R Fitzpatrick, J Patton, DC Wathes and DG Morris (2010) Negative energy balance and hepatic gene expression patterns in high yielding dairy cows during the early post partum period: a global approach. Physiological Genomics 42A:188-199.

I am now retired but the majority of my career has been university based. From 1979-1990 I was a member of the Department of Anatomy at the University of Bristol and I worked at the RVC from 1994 - 2019 based in various departments (Animal Health, Veterinary Basic Sciences, Production and Population Health, Pathobiology and Population Sciences).  At Bristol my teaching included lectures on reproduction and embryology to medical, veterinary and science students. At RVC I have taught reproduction, embryology and thermoregulation to both veterinary and science students. At both universities I also acted as a tutor and had significant input into supervision of undergraduate research projects. At Bristol and the RVC I have also undertaken my fair share of assessments and examination marking (both written and oral) and have sat on student appeals panels. I was external examiner in Animal Science at the University of Nottingham (2001-2005) and at University College, Dublin (2006 -2010), covering second year veterinary courses in reproduction, nutrition and animal welfare. I have also been the main or co-supervisor of 34 PhD students, aiming to produce students who combine an ability to undertake whole animal physiology experiments with an understanding of modern molecular biology techniques. I continue to receive regular requests to act as external examiner for PhDs in both biomedical and animal sciences.

Claire is often asked to speak to farming and veterinary audiences both nationally and internationally on her work on dairy cow fertility and dairy heifer calf development. She was also involved on a project in collaboration with AHDB Dairy to produce a series of short training films for dairy farmers on successful heifer rearing . These are available through youtube at

The topics are:

  1. Colostrum Management;
  2. How to Test Colostrum;
  3. The 3 Q’s of colostrum feeding - Quantity, Quality and Quickly;
  4. Tube Feeding colostrum to calves;
  5. Feeding Hygiene;
  6. Monitoring growth;
  7. Thermal Comfort Zone.

Top of page