The 8th International Conference on the Assessment of Animal Welfare at Farm and Group Level (WAFL), and the first virtual WAFL science conference, is taking place this week with over 350 delegates from 32 countries attending through its virtual platform.
This highly regarded international conference was officially opened by Professor Gerry Boyle, Teagasc Director and Professor John O’Halloran, president of University College Cork (UCC), when they spoke of the relevance of the theme of the event – ‘Animal welfare science: Rising to the challenges of a changing world’.
The conference is jointly organised by Teagasc and UCC. This is the largest international conference devoted solely, to mainly farm animal welfare science and usually runs on a three-year interval. There are a range of sponsors: The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Bushranger Ingelheim, Bord Bia, Carbery, Fota Wildlife Park, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute NI, Teagasc, University College Cork and University College Dublin. The conference runs from Monday 16th to Thursday 19th of August.
In the opening address, Professor Sarah Culloty, Head of College, Science, Engineering and Food Science at UCC stated, “it is essential that the welfare and management of livestock and other animals is based on sound scientific research and best practice” and she commended the extensive cutting edge research being presented at this conference.”
Over 210 scientific papers will be presented, including five plenary and two keynote lectures, 88 oral presentations, five workshop sessions, and 115 poster presentations. This year’s conference has introduced parallel sessions due to the substantial growth of the conference in order to accommodate more presentations. Several sessions were scheduled to enable delegates from most parts of the world to join at least one ‘live’ session in the comfort of their own time zone, a true reflection of the international nature of the conference.
Dr Keelin O’Driscoll, Teagasc and chair of the WAFL 2021 organising committee, remarked, “we’re absolutely delighted to be the 8th hosts of WAFL, which is the first International animal welfare conference to be held in Ireland. Animal welfare is increasingly recognised as an essential component of sustainability, demonstrated by the fact that this is the largest WAFL to date. We hope that the conference programme will inspire and enthuse all our delegates from home and abroad.”