Member news in 2023

This page covers news for members of WPSA UK. Continued access to this area is subject to membership and we plan on having a page per year to help you keep up to date on what’s happening.

November 2023

WPSA-UK Newsletter November 2023


The clocks have gone back, the ghosts and witches are back in their boxes, and all fireworks have gone off with a bang. Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night always makes me spare a thought for companion animals, but I haven’t thought much about the impact on poultry (or indeed other farm animals…) Perhaps that is a scientific study that needs doing? If you are thinking of conducting some research, and could use some financial support, why not consider applying for a WPSA-UK branch Research Award? Applications are due at the end of September of each year, and you could be granted up to £10,000. For more information, see our Funding page.

Meanwhile, we hope you find this newsletter useful. If you have any feedback or contributions for the next one, please email Vicky Sandilands (Branch Secretary) via our contact form.

Message from the President

Welcome to our Autumn newsletter. The weather is now moving well into preparing us for the winter and all that brings. As a vet my mind is obviously occupied with what the winter avian influenza “season” might have in store for us. None of you need reminding how devastating the outbreaks last winter were for everyone involved in the poultry industry. The situation at the moment seems to be ominously quiet in terms of widespread outbreaks in commercial poultry and even wild bird detections, and that might give us some reason for cautious optimism. BUT (and it’s clearly a big but) we cannot be complacent. Biosecurity holds the key as we heard in the excellent Gordon Memorial Lecture delivered by Prof Ian Brown at our Spring Meeting in Birmingham. Taken to its simplest terms it involves preventing what is outside from getting inside and we all have a role in supporting that. Much discussion continues on vaccination as this is the industry’s usual approach to controlling poultry diseases. It is obviously not the complete or easy answer for avian influenza but everyone is looking at progress and discussions as to what the future might look like.

In the meantime, looking at the future of WPSA UK Branch I would highlight two aspects for you to think about. Firstly, your Association depends on YOU! We depend heavily on our hard-working Council to run the nuts and bolts of our business taking us forward to being the “go to” destination for promoting “the advancement of scientific knowledge and public education and training in the agricultural use of the avian species” – not my words, but taken verbatim from the objectives of WPSA UK Branch stated in our Constitution! This means having a critical mass of interested and involved members of the Branch. So please do all you can to spread the word and encourage people you work with to join WPSA (see our website on how easy it is for new members to join!) be they from academia, research, industry advisors and those involved in primary poultry production. There is something for everyone in WPSA. That leads nicely to my second aspect, and that is our annual Spring Meeting – your programme committee has already put together the framework for our next meeting in Belfast (9-11 April 2024, Assembly Building conference centre, Belfast). This meeting is our focal point of the year allowing us to meet and exchange ideas and up to date research and knowledge sharing. Please see elsewhere in this newsletter of how to register for the meeting and also details on the annual Gordon Memorial Lecture which will be delivered at the Spring Meeting.

I hope you find all the information you need in this newsletter, kindly put together by Vicky Sandilands, our new Secretary. Vicky would be very happy to receive articles, information or other contributions for future newsletters so that this, together with our excellent website, gives you all you need to know about YOUR Association. If you cannot find what you need or have any other comments or suggestions on Branch activities then do not hesitate to contact Vicky or myself and we will be happy to listen! Reach us via our contact form here.

I hope you have an enjoyable and successful rest of 2023 and look forward to meeting up in the new year!

  • Stephen Lister, UK Branch President
Spring Meeting 2024 – Abstract submission and travel grant applications are now open!

Our next UK-branch conference, the WPSA-UK Spring Meeting, will be held in Belfast 9-11 April 2024. Details are found here – WPSA UK Branch Meeting 2024 – WPSA ( The meeting venue is the Assembly Buildings Conference Centre, just a few minutes’ walk from the city Centre train station. Our partner organisation, BSAS has secured discount codes with some of the local hotels, so please see the Spring Meeting page for details. As well as an exciting programme that includes guest industry speakers and a joint session with BSAS, we will be hosting the Gordon Memorial Trust’s invited lecture by Professor Ian Dunn on ‘Genotype, phenotype, selection and more: improving the skeletal health of laying hens’.

Abstract submission is OPEN until 20th November 2023. All details, including the abstract guidance that you must follow, are found here Submissions – WPSA (

Did you know that, if you are a student or retired member, you could be eligible for a travel grant to support your attendance at the spring meeting? For students, you increase your chance of gaining a travel award if you submit an abstract for the meeting. Deadline for applications is 5th February 2024.

Read what a former Travel Grant recipient had to say about this:

I am very grateful to be a recipient of the WPSA UK Student Travel Grant, which allowed me to attend and present at the Spring Meeting. Receiving the grant helped cover expenses related to attending the meeting that would otherwise come out of my PhD research funding. Having those costs covered was a relief and allows me greater opportunity to attend and present at future WPSA meetings as well as other conferences. Being able to attend the meeting in person was very beneficial. It gave me the opportunity to meet students, researchers, and industry representatives from around the UK and hear more about their research. Having the opportunity to present in person allowed me to gain more experience with giving scientific presentations and being able to present to an audience who wasn’t familiar with my research allowed for interesting questions to be asked and discussed further. The application process was very simple, and I encourage all students to apply!

For more details, visit the WPSA UK Travel Grant application – WPSA (

Meanwhile, please register for the conference at: WPSA Registration Site – GDPR Compliance (

Summer Vacation Scholarships

We realise that November is not really the time to think about summer, but if you are a student, or a supervisor who will have a student working with them for a dissertation project or similar, then you may want to consider how the branch can offer financial support. Applications are due at the end of March 2024 Summer Vacation Scholarships – WPSA (

One of our former awardees, Yuhui Yang from University of Edinburgh, explains how she benefitted from a summer vacation scholarship:

My interest in poultry science began when I helped my family with chicken husbandry when I was young. After learning about cell biology and pathology at university, I realized the importance of topics such as embryonic development and wound healing to animal health. Thus, I was inspired to do a laboratory-based research project related to these. This WPSA scholarship was recommended by colleagues at the Royal (Dick) Vet School, where I am studying. I met and had a discussion with my supervisor, Dr Joe Rainger, about a prospective project and then decided to apply.

This scholarship greatly supported my living costs and the lab consumables throughout the research period. It enabled me to work comfortably, to appreciate the realities of performing research work, and to conduct this knowing that small incremental findings contribute towards a broader outcome over the long term.

From my experiments, I found that heterotypic N-/E-cadherin cell junctions are unfavourable in growing epithelia. This result provides a basis for further work in chicken embryos and cell culture systems to determine the consequence of this to cell-cell adhesion, cell migration, and tissue fusion during embryonic development, and the broader life-long health of poultry

Yuhui Yang
UK Poultry Research News

UK poultry researchers are investigating a vast array of areas that can have real impact on birds. Here is just a glance at some work going on. Do you have research news you would like to share? Let us know!

Poultry at Slaughter

A new research project has been funded by a response mode BBSRC grant and co-funded by Defra under the Government Partnership Awards (GPA) scheme exploring “Breathless birds: does air hunger impact the welfare of poultry at slaughter?

The project is being led by Dr Jessica Martin (Newcastle University, UK) in collaboration with Dr Dorothy McKeegan (University of Glasgow, UK), Dr Siobhan Abeyesinghe (Royal Veterinary College, UK), Prof Simone Meddle (University of Edinburgh, UK), Prof Ngaio Beausoleil (Massey University, NZ) and Julian Sparrey (Livetec Systems Ltd., UK).

Globally, 72.4 billion chickens are slaughtered each year for food production. In 2021 in the UK, 1.15 billion broiler chickens (reared for meat) were slaughtered across 50 operating slaughterhouses and 57 million end-of-lay hens (reared for egg-laying) were killed at the end of their production cycle. Poultry production represents the largest number of individual animals killed by humans for food production (excluding fish) by a large margin. As a result, the methods used to stun and slaughter poultry are critically important to ensure animal welfare standards for the most numerous terrestrial production animal.

There are two main methods of stunning chickens: electrical stunning and controlled atmosphere stunning (CAS). CAS is the primary method for poultry in the UK (~70%) and it is increasingly in use in the EU (~40%). CAS involves exposing chickens to gas mixtures, leading to unconsciousness and eventual death. CAS was originally developed to combat welfare harms associated with electrical stunning (e.g., live handling) and as such has some welfare advantages compared to electrical stunning. Commercial CAS systems most commonly expose conscious birds to increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 has anaesthetising properties; however above certain concentrations exposure can cause pain (e.g., burning in the nose). During CAS, although painful levels of CO2 are avoided while the chickens may be conscious, these gases cause a deep breathing (hyperventilation) response, expressed by obvious changes in behaviour (e.g., gasping). It is unknown whether these behavioural changes correspond to sensations reported in humans such as breathlessness and ‘air hunger’ when inhaling CO2. Air hunger is reported by humans as a deeply unpleasant experience, consisting of an uncomfortable urge to breathe which is associated with profound anxiety, frustration and fear. We do not know if birds experience these sensations and the consequences, they have on animal welfare. If the gas mixtures used in CAS cause air hunger in chickens, this constitutes a very significant welfare issue, calling into question whether CAS is a humane method of pre-slaughter stunning. Given birds are capable of flight at high altitudes, and have a unique respiratory system compared to mammals, the susceptibility of birds to air hunger is difficult to predict, and no previous studies have specifically examined the emotional responses of birds to these sensations. Although some earlier studies have demonstrated that chickens avoid CO2, research has never addressed why, and more importantly if, air hunger plays a part in this avoidance. Simple behavioural tests, such as allowing birds to leave a space containing CO2, are flawed since CO2 is an anaesthetic that is likely to slow or impair the bird’s responses. Therefore, more sophisticated behavioural approaches such as those allowing birds to demonstrate if they remember negative emotions associated with exposure to CO2, and if so, whether these emotions are reflected by birds choosing not to re-enter environments where this occurred.

Tackling the question of whether air hunger is experienced by billions of chickens undergoing CAS is extremely important. The work we propose is novel and answers a fundamental question, which will enable the development of a novel methodology to detect air hunger in birds. If our studies show that air hunger is not an issue relevant to poultry slaughter, CAS will be proven to be a high welfare method and its uptake will be enhanced globally. If air hunger is apparent, the results will drive the development of more humane stunning approaches, ensuring that the current transition away from electrical stunning systems represents genuine welfare improvement. Whatever the findings, the work will provide valuable information to inform future policy globally. For more information, contact:

Climate change and the poultry industry

Climate change is impacting every aspect of UK farming and the food production supply chain. The poultry sector is generally associated with a relatively low carbon footprint compared with dairy, beef, and sheep sectors.

The main contributors to the carbon footprint of both poultry egg and meat production are feed (efficiency and ingredients), processing and transport. Improvements in animal health, welfare, and waste management also all come into play. All these issues are being actively examined by the UK research fraternity involving academics, industry and other bodies often involving collaboration between industry and academia. Our Net Zero target balanced with the need to ensure food security and maintain a profitable industry has focused research and increased the need for collaboration.

Studies to improve feed conversion efficiency aided by feed additives and the use of alternative feed ingredients such as insect, seaweeds/algae and other alternative proteins are routine across research institutions. The development and increased use of slower growing breeds has resulted in further work to optimise the breeds used and feeding programmes. Welfare and behaviour studies continue to look at rearing systems birds for meat and egg production in a way that meets birds’ welfare and behaviour requirements with the added complication of bird flu and housing orders. The carbon footprint of poultry can be significantly reduced with the improvement in bird health and longevity and important studies continue in genetics, disease prevention and treatments. Poultry production typically results in significant emissions and a vital work reducing these emissions such as changes to feed formulations and litter treatment is ongoing.

Research in the UK is varied and of high quality; the combined research strength will provide is with the best chance to move closer to Net Zero and whilst maintaining a profitable industry. For more information, contact:

Membership News

I trust this message finds you all in good health and high spirits. As we approach the end of 2023, it’s time to make preparations for the upcoming year. With this in mind, I would like to remind you that your WPSA-UK branch membership will require renewal on 2nd January 2024. For those of you who have already opted for the convenience of direct debit as their payment method, there is no need for concern. However, for those of you who use different payment methods, I kindly ask that you set a reminder to ensure your timely renewal. If some of you are planning to combine your annual subscription payment with your spring meeting registration, please let me know in advance to avoid receiving a renewal reminder in January.

  • Farina Khattak, UK Branch Treasurer & Membership Secretary
Social Media

Did you know that WPSA-UK branch has a presence in the following places? Find us there!

FREE WPSA journals – available for collection from Belfast

A retired member of the WPSA-UK community is offering his entire collection of printed World’s Poultry Science Journals to a good home, from 2008 to date. They are only available for collection from the spring meeting conference venue in Belfast, so please contact the secretary if you would like to have them: she will put you in touch with the donor.

NEW council members sought!

At the Annual General Meeting (AGM), which will be held in April 2024 at our Belfast meeting, we anticipate having four council positions open. Would you like to join council and help how your local branch is run? The duties are light (two meetings a year, one of which is typically online, and some email business) plus we are a friendly bunch 😊. We welcome members from industry and academia alike. You must be a WPSA-UK branch member to join council. If you would like more information, please email Vicky via this contact form.

July 2023

July 2023



Dear Members,

A warm welcome from the branch. Normal service is resuming after a period of turmoil (can you believe that COVID put us into lock down over 3 years ago now?)

In this newsletter, you will find a message from branch president Stephen Lister, from the Treasurer and Membership Secretary Farina Khattak, and highlights from the branch meeting in Birmingham which took place in March. We also have a summary of news from the main branch, notification of upcoming events and grants & awards.

We would be interested to hear if you like this format of newsletter (i.e., a PDF that you access on the website) or, particularly for those of you who read everything from your smart phone, if you would rather it was a web-based newsletter, which might be more user-friendly.

If you have queries about anything, please get in touch! The secretary is reached via our contact form.

WPSA UK Branch Secretary
Have a wonderful summer!

Message from the President

It is a real pleasure to welcome you to this WPSA Summer Newsletter – a lot has happened since the last issue and hopefully in its revamped style it will serve as a useful and informative way of keeping you up to date on WPSA activities.

I was fortunate and honoured to be elected as your UK Branch President back in April 2022, as the Branch got back on track after the rigours of Covid and inability to meet face to face at our traditional annual Spring Meetings. For those of you who do not know me, I am a poultry veterinarian, having served periods in practice and Government service. I am now what is politely described as “semi-retired” but not quite ready to hang up my stethoscope and scalpel just yet, so continuing to take an active interest in all aspects of poultry production, management, science, food safety and animal welfare!

Some of you may remember that I served as Secretary for the Branch from 2012 to 2018, and it is pleasing to see how the Branch has flourished in difficult times under the leadership of our Past President, Emily Burton. This is an excellent opportunity for me to again thank her for her hard work and dedication over the last few years to give us a perfect platform to move forward with a lot of exciting opportunities for the Branch and its members. Read on to hear what is happening next…

Stephen Lister

Upcoming Events

For the full calendar, see here.

Recent Highlights

WPSA-UK branch conference Birmingham, 29-30th March 2023

There were 28 abstracts presented at the branch meeting. One session was on insects and black solider fly larvae as poultry feed ingredients, another session looked at sexing chicken embryos prior to hatch as a method for reducing culling of male layer chicks.

Ian Brown (APHA) spoke at the Gordon Memorial Trust lecture about the evolution of avian influenza. Further abstracts on nutrition, physiology and more all contributed to the success of the meeting. In particular, we welcomed many student submissions.

Bruna Loureiro talks about black
soliderfly larvae in poultry feed.
Credit: J Linden
Gordon Memorial Trust (GMT) President Stephen Lister awards Prof Ian Brown the GMT medal. Credit: J Linden

President’s prizes

Prizes to the best oral and best poster presentations by students went to:

  • Best oral: Endre Putyora, “Laying hens display resilience to sleep disruption”, PhD student, SRUC and University of Ghent.
  • Best poster: Hyungwook Kang, “Using a live vaccine as a model for respiratory disease in hens”, PhD student, SRUC and University of Edinburgh.

Membership and Treasurer’s News

First and foremost, I would like to welcome our new members who have joined us recently and thank you all who have renewed their membership for the current year. We want you to know that we value your membership. Please continue to encourage your colleagues, friends and students interested in the poultry field to join the branch as a member to allow us to expand our WPSAUK branch community further.

If you are new to the branch, please remember that the annual subscription is due in January each year. You can pay via electronic transfer or send a cheque (see the membership application form available on our website for the return address), but please ensure your name is identifiable and let me know that you have released the payment.

With the treasurer’s hat on, I am pleased to report that branch finances remain stable and well-managed. Since the AGM, two Summer Vacation Scholarships have been awarded and congratulations to Yuhui Yang from Edinburgh University and Clare Sims from Nottingham Trent University for winnings these awards.

Finally, I would like to thank all branch members for their continued support.

News from the Main Branch

The main branch oversees the indvidual country branches. Did you know that overall, there are more than 8,000 members of WPSA?

There are also two federations of branches – the European Federation, and Asia-Pacific Federation. The UK branch is of course a member of the European Federation (based on geography, not the EU!).

Your membership to WPSA-UK branch gives you access to all WPSA grants and services, plus the journal WPSJ.

Access WPSA and all its information is found here.

Grants and Awards

  • WPSA UK Research Award: This award of up to £5000 is to support a piece of research of broad benefit to the UK poultry sector. Applicants can be students, academics, or employees in a poultry business. Applications are due on 20th September 2023. Details are found here.
  • WPSA-UK Travel Grant: This grant sponsors students and retired members to attend our branch spring meeting. Applications are due in December 2023. See here.
  • WPSA-UK Summer Scholarship: Student grants of up to £2500 to support a poultry-related project. In 2023, we have two grant recipients (see the Membership and Treasurer’s news). Due in March 2024. See here.

AGM Short Report

The 57th Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on 30th March 2023, during thespring meeting in Birmingham.

Secretary’s Report for 2022

In 2022, we awarded two travel grants, three President’s Prizes, and three Summer Scholarships. There were no applications for a Research Award.

Treasurer and Membership Secretary’s Report for 2022

The branch had 180 members in 2022, ten more than we had in 2021. Most of our income is from Charifunds (a stocks/shares investment scheme for charities) and most expenditure is on awards and scholarships.

The Profit and Loss Account, and the Symposium Account, both show a small net surplus (each less than £1600). Our aim as a charity is to break even, so this is ideal.

Agreed Changes to the Branch Constitution 2023

The following changes were ratified at the 2023 AGM and a new Constitution introduced:

  1. Adding a second vice president position on Council to provide succession flexibility
  2. Removal of the requirement to be a UK resident to propose or second proposals or candidates
  3. Ballots for voting on Council membership will no longer need to be submitted by post (email will suffice)
  4. Voting on Branch matters will pass by a simple majority
  5. Use of gender-neutral references used throughout the constitution.

We appreciate all our members that were able to participate in the AGM

Future UK Meetings

WPSA UK Branch Meeting
9th – 11th April 2024

34th Poultry Science Symposium
This is a WPSA-UK symposium. Next date: 2025 (subject and exact dates to
be decided).

XII European Symposium on Poultry Welfare
This a meeting organised by Working Group 9. This will be hosted by the UK branch. Date to be decided, but possibly 2027. Venue: Scotland

Do you have an idea for a conference theme, or for a session at our annual branch meeting? Let us know!

Branch Working Groups

Awards Group
This group overseas the applications for Research Awards, Summer Vacation Scholarships, Travel Grants, and the Gordon Rosen Memorial Award:

  • Jess Martin
  • Cormac O’Shea
  • Sarah Struthers

Marketing Strategy Group
This group determines how the branch can best present itself and spread the word of its activities using marketing methods:

  • Ade Adebiyi
  • Salvatore Galgano
  • Fiona Short

Social Media Group
This group explores what social media channels the branch should use to advertise its activities:

  • Caroline Donaldson
  • Laura Faller
  • Sarah Struthers

Current Council Members

Mr Stephen Lister

Vice Presidents
Dr Jessica Martin
Dr Laura Faller

Dr Farina Khattak

Ms Jackie Linden
Dr Victoria Sandilands

Council members
Dr Adi Adebiyi
Prof Maureen Bain
Dr Caroline Donaldson
Dr Salvatore Galgano
Ms Eloise Lawlor
Dr Cormac O’Shea
Dr Fiona Short
Dr Sarah Struthers

Do you want to join council? Let us know! Email the secretary!