Using a novel, high welfare in vivo feeding device for poultry red mite and its integration with other novel tools for this parasite

Infestation of hen houses with poultry red mites (PRM) is a major animal welfare and economic problem for the egg industry worldwide. Demand for novel methods of controlling PRM is high and, typically, the testing of novel control methods uses mites in in vitro efficacy assays initially, followed by field testing using up to 800 hens in each trial. This strategy has 2 major drawbacks:

1) Data from the in vitro assays are highly variable and may not accurately reflect field trials;

2) Field trials involve large numbers of birds continually exposed to parasites for prolonged periods.

To address these issues we developed an 'on-hen' in vivo mite feeding device as an alternative to both the in vitro feeding assays and field studies. This system can be used to test vaccine efficacy in longitudinal studies across prolonged experimental periods on small numbers of hens (4 per treatment group, as opposed to 400 per treatment group in field trials) without continuous exposure of the birds to the parasites. We have successfully transferred this technology to a vaccine-development group at University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain through a COST Action mobility grant and we now wish to hold a 3-day workshop to disseminate this technology with practical demonstrations and discussions around how it intersects with other novel and emerging tools for PRM research to promote its adoption in laboratories across Europe. The proposed participants in the workshop have interests in both refinement and reduction of the use of hens in the development of novel interventions including pesticides, repellents and vaccines and in investigations of the ability of PRM to spread disease. The principal aims of this proposal are to hold a workshop at Moredun Research Institute to demonstrate the construction and use of the device and discuss how this novel technology may be integrated with other emerging technologies (e.g. RNAi) in this field.

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Skills and Knowledge Transfer grant

Grant reference number

NC/V000969/1

Award date:

Jun 2020 - Jul 2020

Grant amount

£20,598