Synergy for preventing damaging behaviour in group housed pigs and chickens


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Successful first GroupHouseNet training school on damaging behaviour and health!

From 7 to 9 November 2016, the first training school of the European COST Action GroupHouseNet was organised at the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Belgrade in Serbia. The training school aimed at providing high level training for PhD students and post docs on the topic of the relationship between damaging behaviour and health. The training school succeeded in attracting 30 trainees from 14 different European countries. Ten trainers from various backgrounds and specialisations provided an interesting training program covering topics such as: introduction into damaging behaviour, economic considerations, using PLF and sensor techniques for measuring damaging behaviour and health, the relationship between damaging behaviour and health, disease and stress tolerance and health problems as a risk for damaging behaviour. The 30 trainees were very much involved in the course through their own presentations, group assignments and group discussions. This has resulted in many fruitful discussions and ideas for new research and collaborations within the GroupHouseNet COST Action. At the end of the course all participants received a training certificate for this 2 ECTS course. Thanks to all trainees, trainers and main organiser Prof. Anna Valros from the University of Helsinki, Finland. The GroupHouseNet COST Action (CA15134) is chaired by Dr. Bas Rodenburg from Wageningen University in The Netherlands and Prof. Andrew Janczak from NMBU in Norway. If you are interested to join this open network focusing on prevention of damaging behaviour in pigs and laying hens, please go to Future training schools will focus on perinatal development and damaging behaviour (2017) and genetics of damaging behaviour (2018). GroupHouseNet is supported by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology). COST is supported by the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020.


Day 1: Latest developments in research on damaging behaviour and health

  1. Tail biting and aggression in pigs, and feather pecking in hens
  2. Sickness behavior: Behavioural, emotional, physiological and immunological components
  3. Damaging behaviours as a risk factor for health problems
  4. Economic considerations in relation to damaging behaviour and health
Evening: Semi-scientific get-together, organized by local trainees

Day 2: Interrelationship between damaging behaviour and health – what do we know, and what do we not know?

  1. Disease & stress tolerance
  2. Health problems as a risk factor for damaging behaviours
  3. Common underlying risk factors for health problems and damaging behaviours.

Evening: Course dinner

Day 3: Strategies for monitoring and prevention of health-related damaging behavior in commercial settings

  1. Health-related strategies for reducing the risk for damaging behaviour
  2. Automatic measuring and monitoring of health and damaging behaviour


  • Anna Valros, University of Helsinki (UH), Finland
  • Bas Rodenburg, WUR, The Netherlands
  • Jarkko Niemi, LUKE, Finland
  • Janicke Nordgreen, NMBU, Norway
  • Camilla Munsterhjelm, UH, Finland
  • Eva Sossidou, Veterinary Research Institute, Hellenic Agricultural Organization-Demeter, Greece
  • Deborah Piette, KU Leuven, Belgium
  • Pierre Mormède, INRA, France
  • Egbert Knol, TopigsNorsvin
  • Andrea Wilson, Roslin institute, UK