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Towards the Chicken of the Future

17 October 2013

UK - The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) together with The University of Manchester, is hosting a two day conference exploring the biology of domestic chickens to help the chicken industry overcome the significant challenges it faces and shape future government policy.

The conference will take place on 23-24 April 2014 at the RVC's Hawkshead Campus; the deadline for pre-registration is 1 December 2013.

Domestic chickens are an important worldwide food industry that faces many present and future challenges. For example, broiler chickens are subject to a range of health problems that are related to rapid growth rates and high body mass. Not only are these problems a significant welfare issue but consequently represent an economic cost to industry.

The symposium will feature presentations by 25 international researchers who are experts in the major fields of biomechanics, physiology and pathology, infectious diseases and immunity, genetics/breeding, welfare and behaviour. They will present their research to an audience of fellow scientists, industry leaders and policy makers to facilitate discussion of the topics most critical to improving the health of chickens and securing the future of the industry.

Topics for discussion at the conference include:

  • Is chicken waddling good or bad for them?
  • How do metabolic costs relate to behaviours in chickens?
  • Do chickens have friends and how do they behave in large groups?
  • What parasites plague chickens and how can we minimize them?
  • How and why did diseases of major concern such as bird flu evolve or how might they evolve?

John R. Hutchinson, Professor of Evolutionary Biomechanics at the Royal Veterinary College and lead conference organiser said:

"This is a don't-miss symposium for those interested in how humans raise chickens and how chickens respond to their domestic environments, with a strong focus on applied research as well as basic science, all of which can inform government policy."

John added: "Our speakers will be tackling big questions and attendees will get a unique opportunity to partake in the discussions of what the evidence that is presented means for our complex relationships with domestic chickens."

Jonathan Codd, Senior lecturer in Zoology at the University of Manchester and co-principal investigator on the research project said:

“This is a great opportunity to bring together some of the world leaders in this field and provide a clearer way forward for improving broiler chicken welfare”

At the conclusion of the symposium, the organisers will integrate the cutting-edge research and discussions to issue a statement with the intention of influencing future government policy on the domestic poultry industry.

A special related “RVC Lates” event will be held at the RVC's Camden campus on April 25, 2014, as a follow-on event for the general public to enjoy and benefit from.

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