Meeting of great minds at EAAP conference

A team of AbacusBio staff recently travelled to Tallinn, Estonia to attend the annual meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP).

In its 68th year running, the main theme of this year’s conference was “Patterns of Livestock Production in the Development of Bioeconomy”.

The meeting provided an excellent opportunity for AbacusBio representatives to meet and discuss with other scientists the latest developments in animal sciences. There were more than 1000 participants involved in up to nine parallel sessions on a range of topics.

Consultants Fiona Hely, Peter Amer, Tim Byrne, and PhD student Gertje Petersen all produced presentations for the conference – covering a range of topics from enhancing genetic diversity, to formulating effective breeding objectives for breeding programmes, and the application of innovative technologies in genetic improvement.

One of the biggest topics at the conference was about designing and implementing effective breeding programmes, Fiona remarks.

While there are many selection programmes available around the world, there are several practical challenges such as the lack of scale and integration across industry, as well as the diversity of breeding goals and objectives.

“Cultural and societal structures also play a significant role,” Tim adds, “especially when it comes to defining the value of an animal.”

Over recent years, with the introduction of new selection traits, breeding objectives are required to be updated accordingly in terms of economic weights for indexes, Peter says.

Furthermore, technologies are continuing to change the way dairy farms are managed. The landscape for the industry has also evolved dramatically – fuelled mainly by narrow profit margins and the increased emphasis on natural foods, quality assurance, animal welfare, and consumer protection.

The culmination of these social and economic factors has led to the growth trend of driving efficiency.

Other interesting sessions were precision farming, innovation in animal nutrition, science communication, and the management of animal genetic resources.