Role: Conference Bursary Recipient
Department: Animal Biosciences
Conference Attended: The 54th Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology
Location: Bangalore, India (Attending Virtually)
For laying hens, greater egg production increases internal demands for calcium (for shell formation), in turn weakening the skeleton, and rendering birds prone to osteoporosis and greater risks for bone fractures. Both within Canada and world-wide, there is increasing consumer preference for poultry products with “higher animal welfare” that are perceived to be safer and healthier. This includes laying hens kept in non-cage housing systems that improve musculoskeletal development through exercise but consequentially increases risk of collisions, leading to fractures and higher mortality. Solutions are needed to resolve the disconnect between highly efficient production and concerns about animal welfare and human health. The research team I am a part of is integrating data from studies on genetics, nutrition, physiology and behaviour to address this challenge.
The research I intend to present at this conference investigated the musculoskeletal development using different precision technology tools to ultimately identify housing-system designs that mitigate risks and support hens affected by compromised bone health. This research can have a significant impact on the welfare of laying hens on Canadian farms and assist egg farmers during this major transition to ensure economic viability and a sustainable egg production sector in line with FfT’s objectives.
Objectives for Attending:
In attending this conference it is my aim to discuss the results of my research project so that I can spark discussion and innovation into optimizing housing systems for the improvement of laying hen welfare. Due to covid-19 I have been unable to attend international conferences last year and this would be my first attendance at a large international conference before I aim to graduate in summer 2021. This would be a very valuable experience and important part of my training as a graduate student.
My main objectives in attending this conference are to present the results of my study, network with peers and recognized scientists in the field, and to learn more about research topics in animal behaviour and welfare as I search for future career opportunities. The conference is typically attended by ~300 people and with this year being virtual this number could be higher still and my presentation could reach a larger than normal audience. The conference is organized in a way that it moves through different time zones which will allow me to experience part of the conference as a live event in my own time zone. All presentations will be available throughout the conference allowing me to take full advantage of the virtual aspect as well. There will be different parts of the program where people can interact, during presentations and poster session as well as workshops and special networking opportunities. With all of this, I am confident that through the use of video software and sharing platforms I will be able to discuss my research as intended, as well as learn about research from others and build my professional network.