The implementation of new practices in animal welfare and production in the European egg industry is the focus of a new project led by the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences.

The Hennovation project involves 15 researchers from five EU countries. Launched earlier in 2015, it will establish on-farm and off-farm innovation networks that will search for and use new ideas in the sector to make business 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. The need for innovation has come from the egg producers and the wider industry, notes the University of Bristol.

The networks will initially tackle two particular issues of concern; injurious pecking and the transport and use of hens that no longer lay any eggs.

David Main, Professor of Animal Welfare and project coordinator from Bristol University said: “Changes in commercial animal husbandry often require 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 aims of the project is to develop and disseminate technical innovations which have come from practice and communicate economic and scientific information.

The projection is receiving funding of EUR2 million (US$2.2 million) over two years.