Project overview

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

Project overview

Commercial animal husbandry has undergone many changes recently in response to animal welfare and sustainability concerns. These changes often require producers and industry to modify existing practices, thereby creating opportunities for experimentation and innovation. With the growing recognition that the traditional model of knowledge transfer from scientific research to industry practice has not always been effective in addressing hoped-for changes in animal welfare and environmental sustainability, a growing emphasis is now being placed on more cooperative forms of knowledge generation and experimental innovation. Using the laying hen sector as a case study, the Hennovation project aimed to explore and test novel mechanisms for addressing and overcoming the ‘research/practice’ divide in the delivery of sustainable animal welfare practice in two specific areas of current farm animal welfare concern: feather pecking amongst laying hens and end-of-lay transport.

The project specific objectives were:

1. To develop on-farm and off-farm (transport and slaughter) practice-driven innovation networks dealing with sustainability challenges in the laying hen sector with the support of science and market driven actors who have strong relationships with the industry.

2. To develop and disseminate technical innovations to increase sustainability of the laying hen sector that are based on practice as well as on economic and scientific information.

3. To develop and disseminate a “communication support package” including web based tools, facilitation guides and on-line training programmes that will help ensure that science and market- driven actors are able to support practice-driven innovation networks in the laying hen and other livestock sectors.

4. To develop policy recommendations that help realize the full potential of practice-driven innovation through multi stakeholder networks in livestock sectors.

The research project promoted practice-driven innovation through the establishment and encouragement of innovation networks of both producers and the hen processing industry that proactively search for, share and use new ideas to improve hen welfare, efficiency and sustainability within laying hen systems. 19 networks were mobilized at different levels of the production chain, local, national and European level. These networks are supported by science driven-actors, such as veterinary surgeons, farm advisors and scientific researchers alongside market-driven actors, such as those who buy eggs or certify egg production. Critically, the need for innovative responses amongst producers and industry drove the innovation process.