Synergy for preventing damaging behaviour in group housed pigs and chickens


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Overview of the meeting of WG2, Belgrade Serbia, November 2016

The working group meeting kicked off with brief introductions followed by a round of ‘speed networking’. During speed networking, pairs of members were given a 3 minute period to discuss their research area and to identify possible collaboration topics. The session proved highly popular as it was a difficult task to get the pairs to end their interesting discussions!

Having gotten to know each other better, we re-joined as a large group to talk about the all-important working group deliverables. We began the discussions as a group by talking about the success of deliverable 1, which was a cross-working group deliverable to establish of a network of research groups and private sector parties with competence in analysis and prevention of damaging behaviour in pigs and laying hens. Mike Toscano had done an excellent job with this meaning that we were able to easily extract data and assess the relevance of WG2 issues and deliverables. Going forwards, we highlighted the need to attract more early stage scientists and partners from industry and to maintain the demographic balance.

We then went on to tackle the main discussion points which were focused on deliverable 2, which was the production of papers on the development of damaging behaviour in pigs and laying hens. We split into 2 species groups to begin organisation of the 2 review scientific papers. It was agreed that for each species we will write one scientific review. For laying hens, it will be dedicated to the prenatal effects. For pigs, it will combine all biting behaviours and will incorporate pre- and early postnatal effects. The 2 groups were able to flesh out plans for producing original and timely scientific reviews, but also with scope for later communicating the issues to broader audiences including industry and the public.

Another important discussion topic was the organisation of the next training school on the development of damaging behavior in laying hens and pigs. Inma Estevez had already kindly agreed to lead the local organising committee and she was able to update the rest of the working group via Skype. The training school will be held on the 6th – 8th November in Bilbao, Spain, with space for 30 students and 10 guest speakers. Work is now underway to find speakers and organise a really interesting scientific schedule.

A final key discussion point was the lack of WG2 representation on the last round of short term scientific missions (STSMs). We therefore proposed working group topics for the next round, to encourage applications within the remit of pre-natal and early life effect on damaging behaviour in pigs and laying hens.

All-in-all, the meeting in Belgrade allowed some excellent networking opportunities for working group 2 members as well as providing the fuel for us to begin to tackle our deliverables. We have much to do before the next meeting in Skopje!