Laying-hen research priorities

Practice-led innovation supported by science and market-driven actors in the laying hen and other livestock sectors

HORIZON 2020 ISIB-02-2014 project, Grant no. 652638

Laying-hen research priorities

An exercise was carried out to identify the research priorities of farmers and industry in the laying hen sector. An initial list of research topics was generated by the innovation network facilitators and animal welfare scientists working with the innovation networks. The topics on this initial list were grouped into different categories and shared with the members of the Project Advisory Board which included industry, retailer, farm-assurance and producers organisations. They commented on the list and added topics they perceived as a priority in the sector.

The final list was shared for scoring (see deliverable D5.4) and a variety of people scored the topics:

•12 network facilitators, welfare scientists and project advisory board members (some members of the Advisory Board were advised by others in their organisation).

•10 project stakeholders from Spain including farmers and advisors. (consulted during the Spanish national level knowledge exchange)

In the area ‘Injurious pecking’ topics related to ‘Poultry Red Mites’ were clearly given the highest priority (the 10% highest scored topics are mainly in this category). This illustrated the severity of this problem for the sector and the perceived relevance for the occurrence of feather pecking. There was an urgent need for applied research regarding control and management methods. Other prioritised topics included management/advice after first signs of feather pecking, effects of light qualities (colour, intensity, day light, schedule) and the best use of networks in the interaction between facilitators/researchers and stakeholders.

In the area ‘Welfare of End-of-Lay hens’ the two groups agreed on the need for training, prioritising knowledge transfer through best practices guidelines. Whilst the Hennovation project group gave high priority to optimal ways of catching birds in non-cage systems, the stakeholders group gave high priority to the role and functioning of networks.

Based on this study of the priorities related to Injurious Pecking and the Welfare of End-of-Lay hens the following topics were given highest priority and provide recommendations for further research and technical inputs.

Recommendations related to Injurious Pecking:

  • Management and control of Poultry Red Mites.
  • Development of practical lists to advice farmers how to prevent further development of feather pecking after first signs of the problem occur.
  • Effects of qualities of light (colour, intensity, day light, schedule).

Recommendations related to the Welfare of End-of-Lay hens:

  • Knowledge transfer on best practices and guidelines.
  • Optimal ways of catching birds in non-cage systems.