The extraordinary year 2020 has offered few possibilities for meeting collaborators and fellow researchers in scientific symposia. Most of the scientific congresses of the year have been postponed to 2021 or beyond. As a refreshing exception, the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP) took a huge task to arrange their yearly meeting – originally scheduled to be held at Porto, Portugal in August – as a virtual meeting in the first four days of December.

The EAAP is an organization which states to promote research, discussion, debate and dissemination of animal science findings amongst the scientific communities, the livestock industry, civil society and groups with interests in livestock production.

The virtual meeting turned out to be a success. According to the organizers, the Plenary Session on 1st December was followed by 1350 attendees. Global warming, methane emissions and climate politics were raised into the focus of the Plenary lections (a recording available on EAAP’s web page).

The ambitious scientific program was divided into 73 sessions, with up to 12 of them running in parallel. The oral talks and short poster presentations were pre-recorded, and the presenters were invited on stage to answer the questions from the audience. Poster presentations were available throughout the meeting. Virtual discussions with other attendees was enabled through a Coffee lounge platform. Overall the congress platform worked very well, with only a few, minor technical problems during the days.

The scientific program of EAAP virtual meeting covered all farm animal groups and very many types of research. Precision Livestock Farming techniques, breeding goals for the future, energy and protein efficiency of farm animals, and sustainability of the land use were among the topics of scientific sessions. The meeting also gave a voice to young researches in Early career competitions.

Hankkija FFI participated with four poster presentations by Dr Eija Valkonen and Dr Hannele Kettunen. The titles of their posters were “N-glycan profiling of chicken intestine as a tool for designing improved feed supplements”, “Biomarkers of inflammation and gut permeability in dairy cows with or without dietary resin acids”, “Saccharomyces cerevisiae-hydrolysate improved performance of Asian sea bass”, and “Yeast hydrolysate prevented E. coli-induced increases in piglet gut tissue conductance ex vivo”. These posters will be introduced in detail here in Hankkija FFI’s blog in the coming weeks.

The EAAP virtual meeting 2020 proved that state-of-the-art virtual meetings can be a true alternative to live meetings, whenever needed.