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SASAS Congress 2020: First circular

The 52nd SASAS Congress is hosted by the Northern Branch
of the South African Society for Animal Science (SASAS)

The mission of the South African Society for Animal Science (SASAS) is to advance animal science and the animal science profession and promote viable animal production systems while sustaining natural resources and the environment, thereby enhancing welfare and wealth.

The 52nd SASAS Congress will take place at the University of Pretoria during July 2020 (final date to be confirmed) under the following theme: “Communication of animal science: Is it reliable? Is it relevant? Is it responsible?”

There is a well-known saying that communication is key, but how many animal scientists really take that to heart when we discuss our business with the general public? Many modern-day consumers have little or no farming knowledge, but they care how their food is produced and don’t always trust the information that is provided. This makes communication difficult. For example, how does one explain a perceived inhumane practice such as removing a dairy calf from its dam after birth, or branding and castrating beef calves, to someone whose opinion is based on imagining how they would feel in the animal’s place? In addition, publishing a research paper in an academic journal often does not influence an audience beyond other professionals in the industry unless it is accompanied by press releases or social media posts aimed at the general public.

It can be tempting to leave consumer communication to those with formal training or to a young intern who is comfortable with social media, but ultimately, the sustainability of the livestock industry is not only reliant on continuing economic and environmental viability, but also on social acceptability, and consumer acceptance can only be maintained and improved into the future by improving communication.

While it certainly is not necessary, or even possible, to satisfy each and every whim of every consumer, if we don’t listen to consumer demands and either alleviate their concerns or adjust our systems accordingly, producers will run the risk of losing market share to other, more socially acceptable options, including plant-based foods.

This two-day congress will include excellent speakers from industry, academia, and the general public, so get ready for some lively debates. In addition, the poster session will showcase the latest local research from various research and educational institutions.

The call for scientific abstracts will be circulated later this month 2020, so watch your inbox. In the meantime, to register your interest and/or add your name to the address list for future communication, please send your contact details to the congress coordinators at

Kind regards
Robyn Joubert
Chair: SASAS Northern Branch

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