Historically, WG3 had three main activities: networking, summary of random sample tests and scientific meetings. Initially, scientific meetings were organised on specific issues, with the example of the Symposium on Genotype-Environment Interactions in Poultry Production organised in 1989 in France. There was another regular flow of poultry genetics meetings in Western and Eastern Europe since the early 1960s which were attended by WG3 members.
The British Poultry Breeders’ Round Table (BPBRT) started in 1959 as a platform to exchange information and novel ideas related to quantitative genetics theory and application in poultry breeding among scientists from the breeding industry and academia. Annual meetings attracted a large number of participants from Europe and North America until the end of the 80s. As a result of globalization of the poultry breeding industry, with fewer potential sponsors and active poultry geneticists in the UK, it was decided to change the name to “European Poultry Breeders’ Roundtable” (EPBRT) and to meet only biannually starting with Oxford/UK in 1993, followed by Foulum/DK in 1995.
During the 1970s and 1980s when the different political systems prevented regular communication among colleagues from Eastern and Western Europe, poultry genetics meetings were organized in Eastern Europe under the name “AVIAGEN - Current Problems in Avian Genetics”. After 1989, colleagues from East and West attended both types of meetings and began to think of a possible merger.
The 12th AVIAGEN Symposium and the 3rd EPBRT were organised consecutively in Pruhonice near Prague (Czech Republic) in the same week, and it was then decided to merge the organizations under the umbrella of “Working Group 3” of WPSA. It was also agreed that the Symposia should be biannual, with venues alternating between “East” and “West”, giving the opportunity to discover several research institutions across Europe. So far the following symposia were held:
Networking activity of WG3 included the preparation of a diary of on-going research projects between 1992 and 1999 (more than 100 projects were listed from different countries). The WG3 network was also useful in organising the sampling of 50 chicken breeds for the European Research Project AvianDiv (1998-2000). In 2003, WG3 members contributed to a survey on poultry experimental lines in Europe that was presented by M. Tixier-Boichard at the symposium in Wageningen.
An important activity of WG3 is to organize Poultry Genetics Symposia. These meetings provide a forum to exchange recent results and current research activities, encourage interaction between junior and senior scientists, and between colleagues from industry and research institutes.
As discussed during the 2009 meeting, future symposia will continue to be held alternating between "West" and "East" on a bi-annual basis. The interaction of the genetics symposium with other disciplines will be intensified, and academic scientists and scientists from commercial companies will continue to be involved in preparing the scientific programme to ensure attractiveness and industrial relevance of the symposium. The importance of biodiversity was also noted by the group, and this issue was added to the activities of the working group.