Synergy for preventing damaging behaviour in group housed pigs and chickens


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From beak to tail – mechanisms underlying damaging behaviour in laying hens and pigs

On 7 August the GroupHouseNet COST action and FareWellDock – Network organised a one-day satellite meeting, which was the day before the 2017 annual congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology. This brought together researchers working within the field of damaging behaviour in both pigs and poultry. The meeting focused on two main themes: ‘Mechanisms underlying the link between health and damaging behaviour’, and ‘Predisposing factors for damaging behaviour during early development’. Both themes were introduced by two invited experts, who are involved in writing review papers on their respective areas of expertise. These were followed by short research presentations by four participants per theme. After the presentations within each theme, participants were randomly assigned to 6 sub-groups, all including experts in both species, where they discussed and addressed four key questions:

  1. Was anything missing/unclear/not logical in the two plenary review talks? Did they raise any specific questions?
  2. Which similarities/differences between species (pigs/poultry) did you identify?
  3. Which are the main gaps of knowledge in pigs/poultry?
  4. What research approach could help fill in these gaps?

Each group then presented key points from the results of their discussion, and provided feedback to the experts who are involved in preparing review papers on their topics.

Not only did the meeting help in dissemination of the most up to date research in the area of damaging behaviour, but the feedback from the participants will help to ensure the review papers are of the highest scientific standard. Moreover, it provided a fantastic opportunity for networking between researchers working in the area of damaging behaviour, and helped to introduce the COST action to potential new participants. Many thanks to the sponsors of the meeting (RSPCA, Topigs Norsvin, and COST) for their support!

Presentations from the day are available to view here