December 2015 : End-of-lay hen workshop, Bristol 25-26 November 2015
A workshop was held on the 25th and 26th of November 2015 at the University of Bristol, School of Veterinary Science, Langford, (UK) to discuss innovations, best practices and scientific knowledge for hens at end of lay ( see annex 9). The objective of the workshop was two-fold: to share knowledge of issues affecting hens and associated businesses at the end of lay, and to identify opportunities for innovation to be addressed by networks operating at country (or local region) level and for one network at EU level. The twenty workshop participants included representatives of the poultry industry, veterinary and social scientist and network facilitators.
Science-based presentations summarised current knowledge and identified some areas of opportunity for innovation. These were: Variation in levels of mortality during transit in the Czech Republic and other EU countries and Factors influencing losses in transit. Practice-based presentations were given on Depopulating from furnished cages, Minimising loses during transit and Industry Catching, Handling and Transport Guidelines. Workshop discussions included Strategies for efficient catching, handling and loading in all systems and Planning & management of depopulation. In addition an innovative engineer brought a prototype module drawer to show the workshop, which stimulated discussions around improving the efficiency of catching and loading at depopulation.
The principal areas of discussion were (1) planning and risk assessment; (2) catching and (3) the transportation process. These were addressed in more detail by both small-group sessions and plenary sessions. The main outcomes of the workshop were:
•There is a need for further investigations into optimum light intensities and colour for easier handling at catching (and for human safety). Recommend that research into this is funded.
•Opportunities to improve protocols for feed withdrawal, to refine guidelines by husbandry system and to innovate regarding water supplementation to alleviate hunger. This is likely to require a fully-funded research project but WP3 could undertake pilot studies.
•Opportunities to develop new systems/equipment/practices for placing birds directly into transport containers (crates/drawers) at the point of catching. [This is standard practice in the NL where stackable drawers are used]. Possibility of developing automated catching and handling.