Teagasc and University College Cork have joined forces to host the eighth International Conference on the Assessment of Animal Welfare at Farm and Group Level (WAFL).

The first virtual WAFL will welcome over 350 delegates from 32 countries.

The event was officially opened today (16 August) by Professor Gerry Boyle, Teagasc director, and Professor John O’Halloran, president of UCC.

The topic discussed was "Animal welfare science: Rising to the challenges of a changing world".

The event is the largest conference devoted to farm animal welfare science and usually runs every three years.

Professor Sarah Culloty, head of college, Science, Engineering and Food Science at UCC, stated in her opening address: “It is essential that the welfare and management of livestock and other animals is based on sound scientific research and best practice” and applauded the extensive research presented at the conference.

Cutting-edge research

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 event has introduced parallel sessions to accommodate more presentations, due to the growth of the conference.

Several sessions were scheduled to enable delegates from most parts of the world to join at least one "live" session in their own time zone, which reflects the international nature of the conference.

Animal welfare of increasing importance

Dr Keelin O’Driscoll, Teagasc and chair of the WAFL 2021 organising committee commented: “We’re absolutely delighted to be the eighth hosts of the 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.”