Because of the high demand for eggs, large numbers of hens are farmed in modern intensive egg production, which can cause concerns about their welfare. Higher welfare also leads to higher quality eggs, higher productivity, and lower incidence of disease and therefore lower need for antibiotics.
This project aims to reduce the chronic stress experienced by hens. To this end, we will investigate the neurobiological, genetic and developmental factors that lead to higher stress resilience, and the environmental (housing) factors that lead to chronic stress. Europe has led the world in hen welfare with the complete ban of battery cages (European Union Council Directive 1999/74/EC). However, the replacement housing systems have their own potential welfare challenges.
Our goal is to identify these challenges and develop improvements for implementation by industry. This Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network will train a new generation of innovative and entrepreneurial early-stage researchers, able to face different challenges related to poultry farming and to apply scientific knowledge and ideas to products and services for economic and social benefit. To do this, we will constitute an international network of groups with expertise in avian brain research, genetics, welfare and egg farming.
- University of Newcastle (Project leader)
- Lleida Biomedical Research Institute
- University of St. Andrews
- The Open University (Ireland)
- University of Bern
- Wageningen University
- Norwegian University of Life Sciences
- Institute for agriculture and fisheries research (Belgium)
- Vencomatic Group
- Hendrix Genetics
- Noldus Information Technology BV
- Max-Planck institute
- Vienna University of Veterinary medicine
- Linkopings University
- The Lakes Free range Eggs Co Ltd
- University of Ghent
- University of Edinburgh
- Tel Alviv University
This project is funded by the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Union, project 812777.