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From chicken to egg – Hennovation project launched

Press release issued: 17 June 2015

Due to increasingly stricter legislation in animal welfare and sustainability of production, commercial animal husbandry has gone through tremendous changes in recent years. A new European project, led by the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences, aims through innovation networks to implement new practices in animal welfare and production in the laying hen industry.

The Hennovation project involves 15 researchers from five EU countries and is funded through the Horizon 2020 programme.  The project, launched earlier this year, will establish on-farm and off-farm innovation networks that will search for and use new ideas to make businesses more efficient and sustainable.

Up to 20 networks will be set-up at different levels of the production chain at local, national and European level. The networks will be supported by veterinary surgeons, farm advisors and scientific researchers alongside those who buy eggs or certify egg production.  Critically the need for innovation has come from the producers and industry.

The networks will initially tackle two particular issues of concern in the production chain: injurious pecking and the transport and use of hens that no longer lay any eggs. The project will demonstrate the potential of innovation led by producers and industry practices on farm, during transport and at the abattoir.

David Main, Professor of Animal Welfare and project co-ordinator from the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences, said: “Changes in commercial animal husbandry often requires producers and industry to modify existing practices, which creates 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 co-operative forms of knowledge generation and experimental innovation.”

One of the main aims of the project is to develop and disseminate technical innovations which have come from practice and communicate economic and scientific information.

The project will also develop the skills of the participants in the innovation networks and facilitate the interaction and communication of individuals within each network. Web-based communication tools and an online training programme will be designed to support the knowledge sharing within and between the networks.

It is hoped the Hennovation project will inspire and support innovation in other livestock sectors.

Further information

About the Hennovation project

The HENNOVATION project is one of the thematic networks funded under the topic ISIB 2 'Closing the research and innovation divide: the crucial role of innovation support services and knowledge exchange’ of the Horizon 2020 EU Research and Innovation programme.

The project began on 1 January 2015 and is co-ordinated by University of Bristol. The project, which involves five EU countries: the UK, Sweden, Czech Republic, Spain and the Netherlands, will receive funding of around €2 million over two years.

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