Autumn 2003 Newsletter : Meeting of the Incubation & Fertility Research Group
(WPSA Working Group 6 - Reproduction)
University of Lincoln, 4th-5th September 2003
After three years at St Edmund's Hall, University of Oxford, The IFRG moved venue to the University of Lincoln. Advantages of this move proved to be a large, well equipped lecture theatre and spacious areas for refreshments and informal discussions. Over sixty delegates booked for the meeting, a little down on last year but perhaps not unsurprising given the upcoming inaugural meeting of WPSA Working Group 12 - Physiology in Berlin in October 2003 which was dealing with late embryonic development (and hence attracted some of the overseas delegates who have attended the IFRG in the past). Nevertheless, eleven countries were represented at the IFRG, including most European countries, the USA and Singapore. Delegates were from academic, commercial and conservation organisations and it was pleasing to see some new faces amongst the regular attendees at the meeting.
This year the invited keynote speaker was Dr Yves Nys of INRA at Tours who presented a very informative talk on 'Identification and role of eggshell matrix proteins, application to eggshell quality'. There were also two small Workshops at the meeting. The first was based around small-scale incubation of non-poultry species. Graham Wishart (University of Abertay, Dundee) covered the use of artificial insemination techniques in non-domestic birds, Frank Pearce (Brinsea Products, Somerset) described a new contact incubator, and Nigel Jarrett (Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge) gave an entertaining talk on the efforts of ex-situ conservation of the New Zealand Blue Duck. The second short Workshop had problem solving in commercial incubation of poultry and game birds as a theme. Delegates heard John Beer (Somerset) describe his experiences of the problems in incubation of game birds, Ron Meijerhof (Hybro, Holland) spoke on his efforts problem solving in the commercial broiler sector, and the workshop concluded with Nick French (British United Turkeys, Chester) describing techniques for dead-in-shell breakout analysis.
As per usual the rest of the meeting was taken up with papers presented by delegates. The high standard of previous years was maintained and the programme was certainly varied this year. Topics ranged from development of the cornea in the chick embryo to the impact of incubation temperature on muscle development in the turkey embryo. Trae Moore of Embrex, Inc., USA gave an enlightening talk on their new system for automatic sorting of eggs based on in-ovo determination of the gender of the embryos. Other topics covered included egg storage, the impact of washing on microbial contamination of eggs, storage of semen, eggshell formation, nest humidity, hatchability in wild nests, yolk utilisation and temperature, fatty acid incorporation in altricial and precocial species, and temperature adaptation of embryos. Poster topics included degradation of the cuticle of mandarin duck eggshells, assessment of sperm quality, the effect of chick movement on muscle development and the effects of pulsed temperatures on the length of incubation. Some topics proved more thought provoking that others but all led to considerable discussion during refreshment breaks.
Given the high standard of the facilities and food at this venue, it was decided that the 2004 meeting will return to the University of Lincoln. Moreover, it is planned that there will be dedicated sessions focussing on the impact of egg production on incubation success, and the impact of the incubation environment on early life post-hatching. Further details of the next meeting (and previous meetings) can be obtained from the new website (www.ifrg.org) or from email@example.com.
D C Deeming