St. Catherine’s College, Manor Road, Oxford, UK, 4-7th April 2016
Attended by M Djuric, CAB International, Wallingford, UK, on 5th April 2016 (Day 2)
This workshop meeting was jointly organised by the Pirbright Institute, Woking, UK and Cairo University, Egypt and was sponsored by the British Council Research Links Programme.
There were 50-60 delegates in attendance at the meeting, with approximately one-half of delegates coming from various faculties and Research Institutes of Cairo University. The other half of participants came from the UK, including the Pirbright Institute, Woking, Royal Veterinary College (RVC), University of London, Surrey University and Roslin Institute, Edinburgh.
Venue: St. Catherine's College, Manor Road, Oxford
In total, 21 oral presentations, excluding invited speakers, and 17 posters were included in the meeting programme.
A representative of the British Council, Shaun Holmes, was scheduled to provide information on Newton Fund News and Future Funding Opportunities on day three of the meeting. I attended on behalf of CABI on day two of the event.
“Can we have a pet for Christmas?” is something I hear a lot each December. The answer, much to my children’s disappointment, is always no.
In addition to the fact that we are often told that Christmas is not the best time to introduce a new animal into a household [e.g. see PetRescue.Com article: No Christmas Puppies, Please!], I can’t think of any pet that is both practical and fulfils the necessary fluffy/cute criteria that my kids are requesting. (Apparently the stick insects that we have are not ‘proper’ pets!).
After listening to experts talk at CABI’s Human-Animal Bond Symposium last month, I can appreciate the benefits that introducing something cuddly into the family could bring. Professor Alan Beck, of Purdue University, described some of the ways that pets can benefit human health and welfare. For example, dog ownership generally results in increased exercise and greater social contact through talking with other dog owners; people with dogs or cats have been found to have lower blood pressure, heart rates and reduced cholesterol than those without; and even staring at a fish tank can provide enough of a distraction from our worries to induce a relaxation response. Animals can also help teach children about responsibility and compassion.
There is a lot of evidence to suggest that giving animals a better environment makes them less stressed, less likely to behave abnormally, and sometimes more productive. However, most of that evidence comes from small-scale trials, and scaling improvements up to the practicalities of large farms could prove costly and burdensome. Is it environmental enrichment a realistic option for farmers?
In an article in CAB Reviews, Laura Dixon of the Scottish Agriculture College looks at the practicalities and how environments can be improved. She says that the main approaches are through providing foraging opportunities, structural complexity, sensory stimulation or novelty, and social stimulation from other animals or humans. The type of enrichment that helps differs from animal to animal – poultry benefit from perches, while ducks prefer water troughs. Allowing birds to forage or to use water troughs and dust baths has been shown to reduce abnormal behaviour, and often leads to better growth. However, the “wilder” environment can be difficult to clean and need more maintenance, with more risk of disease.