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FACCO builds a farm with PADOVA UNIVERSITY

A three-year path in which the current cage-free systems will be implemented to ensure and increase the welfare of animals in medium and large farms.

February 2021 - Facco and the University of Padua present an important collaboration, in a 3-year path, which also sees the support of Unismart, Fondazione Cariparo and Banca Intesa, for the development of entirely cage-free farming systems with the goal of imagining and creating together the solutions of the future in line with the objectives of the Green Deal and the Farm2Fork Strategy of the European Union. Facco, for over 60 years a leader in the construction of large poultry plants all over the world and in any climatic condition, has always given great space and value to the close collaboration with the best specialists in the field of biosecurity, agriculture and veterinary and the technological sector, precisely to maximize the welfare of the hen in its systems. The University of Padua is among the oldest in the world and is present in the world rankings for the excellent quality of its research in various sectors, including agricultural and veterinary sciences (Global Ranking of Academic Subjects, 2020).

A shared path that arises precisely from the evolution of the sector. In recent years, in fact, many countries such as the USA and all of Europe, but not only, have started the conversion or have switched to cage-free systems, which in addition to allowing animals to express behaviors typical of their species in a natural environment - such as scratching, perching and hatching - allow the animals to move freely within the plant itself.

From this trend arises the need to design systems that must bring together various factors by balancing them carefully: first of all, to allow animals to live with a high level of well-being and control, in line with the ethical approach required by the new regulations but especially from the market thanks to the greater awareness of consumers. Then, the need to create an industrially sustainable system in terms of maintenance, occupied spaces and volumes and - last but not least - the need to optimize energy consumption and environmental sustainability is also fundamental.

With the aim of giving full expression to the behavioral repertoire and the most complete freedom of movement of animals, Facco and University of Padua, with the Department of Comparative Biomedicine and Nutrition (Angela Trocino) and the Department of Agronomy, Animal Food, Natural Resources and Environment (Gerolamo Xiccato), have therefore set up a path that will develop over three years of activity and research, with an important investment of about 500,000 euros, whose focal points concern:

- the adaptation phase: crucial moment when the animals move from the weaning facility to the modern cage-free production farm;
- the environmental context: study of the characteristics that the context and the equipments must have (for materials, colors, automations, environmental enrichments, etc ...) to better support the behavior of animals in the laying and hatching phases (Nests), feeding, watering and movement during the various phases of the day through a correct management of lighting in the various environments available for the animals in the system;
- hygiene and maintenance: study of the characteristics that the equipment and automation systems must have to better manage the litter and the cleaning systems of the plant to respect the needs of the animals and at the same time help the farmer in the cleaning phase and plant maintenance ensuring the highest levels of hygiene and biosecurity for animals and operators;
- behavior and well-being: study of animal behavior in the phases of adaptation and production, performance and consumption through the analysis of data gathered for entire cycles through the innovative monitoring systems, data collection and analysis created and managed by the Facco SmartFarm system.

“Companies and territories must invest in culture and training. We are working with pride and great enthusiasm together with the University of Padua with the common goal of developing knowledge through research while at the same time training young people with high qualifications capable to give their own contribution of innovation to growth and competitiveness of the economic system. In this case also to further improve the quality of life of the hens in the plants, not just Facco’s. We are working for a shared future in which all biosecurity standards can be enhanced and innovated through the virtuous behaviors of hens, and in which they lead a life that respects their needs, in order to be - as per our DNA - forerunners of a changing world, interpreters of new needs and interlocutors with new subjects. An exchange of knowledge between the production sector and the university capable of making us more competitive, attractive for new talents and totally respectful of the animal welfare." Massimo Finco, President of Officine Facco, comments.

“Universa Universis Patavina Libertas: full freedom, for all, in the University of Padua. In that ‘for all’, there is an element to which particular attention should be paid: it is for all the freedom that comes from knowledge, not only for some. Therefore, the duty of making the knowledge acquired by study and research available to the territory arises from the motto of our University. It is in this context that the technology and knowledge transfer is generated which, in a logic of open innovation, contributes to the creation of new products, processes and innovative business models such as the case described here of the collaboration between our University and Officine Facco. The collaboration between university and business helps to create a relationship of trust that brings advantages to both the actors involved: on the one hand it quickly leads to the generation of innovation from skills present in the university, on the other it helps to touch firsthand the practical applications of research 'of the useless knowledge' ", comments Fabrizio Dughiero of the University of Padua, Vice-Rector for Technology Transfer and Business Relations.

"The added and characterizing value of the collaboration initiated by Officine Facco and our University is in the exchange of knowledge and skills, in the shared methods of construction and implementation of the path, in the impact of the results. The approach is multidisciplinary and fully includes the skills of the University and those of the company, also providing training for company staff and students. The scientific method and rigorous implementation ensure the transferability of the results in the field. The socio-economic impact can be identified in the promotion of cage-free breeding systems in a context of scientific research and production aimed at improving breeding practices, enhancing product quality, and implementing sustainability practices. environmental and animal welfare protection. This is a global impact and not attributable to the individual company or university, since these systems are able to provide added value not only to poultry production but to all animal production in general, for the ethical value they include." Comments Angela Trocino of the University of Padua, Project Manager.

The project, which will make it possible to create a prototype of a system to be shared with companies in the national and international territory, also makes use of a Unismart grant, PhD scholarships on a restricted topic (2019 call) on the Doctoral Course in Animal and Food Science from the University of Padua and a Unimpresa loan (call 2019) which always sees the participation of Officine Facco.