If there is one industry at the forefront of change, then it is the poultry industry. Over the last 50 years production has increased 10-fold which could only be achieved through tremendous advances in know-how, both in animal husbandry and in understanding the birds’ needs and feed requirements. That said, birds are changing constantly due to genetic improvements and with the enormous growth of the industry, challenges have arisen that no one could have imagined decades ago. The environmental impact of production and antibiotic resistance are 2 mega-trends that have to be tackled. And that needs insight.
This is why Dupont animal nutrition invited a small but select group of experts and nutritionist to share the latest trends and provide in-depth knowledge of the science surrounding the 3 mainstays of nutribiosis:
- gut & immune function
“We live in interesting times, where African Swine fever has resulted in more demand for chicken, where international trade wars are messing up commodity streams and where antibiotic use and environmental issues are putting pressure on our industry,” said Dupont business unit director Aart Mateboer. However, he sees not just threats, but opportunities too. “As an industry we have the know-how to tackle these challenges, we can lessen environmental impact by reducing phosphorus and nitrogen emissions. And to do that we need to share our best practices.”
When it comes to meeting the birds’ needs, it is necessary to keep in mind that genetic progress has an impact on nutritional requirements. Justina Caldas, nutritionist at Cobb, shared her thoughts in her presentation. “First of all, the worldwide demand for broilers has grown from 6.6 billion birds a year in 1961 to 56 billion in 2015. If we still had the same birds with no genetic improvements, we would have needed 75 billion birds. Over the years feed conversion has dropped by 2 points per annum.” Caldas believes this has consequences that not everyone realises. “Broilers eat less feed per kilogram growth due to genetic improvements. This means that they will ingest less in essential minerals and vitamins too. Given that standard feeds are designed to avoid vitamin deficiencies and are not primarily tuned to optimum performance, our birds could be at risk.” She noted that some vitamin levels have already been increased in Cobb recommendations, but not all because research and knowledge in this field is still at an early stage.
As selection is made for muscle growth and not for the number of muscle fibres, birds become at risk.” – Cécile Berri from the French INRA institute
Cécile Berri from the French INRA institute observed another risk related to the constantly changing birds. “One of many selection traits is the focus on meat yields and breast meat. This together with the fact that birds are raised to higher body weights means that the quality defects in meat become more numerous and serious. We see pH-related defects, white striping, wooden breast and spaghetti meat. A combination of oxidative stress, inflammation and muscle degeneration leads to breast muscle myopathies. As selection is made for muscle growth and not for the number of muscle fibres, birds become at risk.” Berri indicated that the problems have a heritable factor which can be mitigated to some extent by genetics, management and feeding strategies. “All strategies that limit animal and muscle growth will be sufficient to reduce the occurrence of breast meat myopathies, while some supplements have the potential to limit the prevalence of defects.”
The increasing global demand for chicken-meat means that sustainable production is an imperative,” – Peter Selle, adjunct associate professor at Sydney University
Peter Selle, adjunct associate professor at Sydney University, pointed out the importance of improving understanding of how the bird really works. “Experts predicted that global poultrymeat production would increase from 82 million tonnes in 2005-2007, to 181 million tonnes in 2050. That is a 2.2-fold factor or an average annual increase of 1.82% per annum. If their projection is valid this means that global poultrymeat production will increase from 105.6 million tonnes in 2020 to 181.3 million tonnes in 2050 – an increase of 73%,” Selle stated. “The increasing global demand for chicken-meat means that sustainable production is an imperative,” he added. His work focuses on the ability of phytase to help cut and digest phytate which is plentiful in high crude protein diets (soy). “However, in the quest for more sustainable production, who wants to be responsible for cutting down rainforest for soy production? A reduced-crude protein broiler diet will become increasingly common. The question is: what is the role of phytase feed enzymes in this context?” Selle further noted that birds offered reduced-crude protein diets will not show a strong response to the reduced phytase because there will be less substrate in the intestine. However, lower substrate levels could be offset by greater increases in amino acid digestibilities due to the impact of phytase on more feed grain proteins in reduced-CP diets.
Omics technologies will expand our knowledge of host-microbiota interactions, we can then use the data for feed additive testing, and design and use traditional wet lab testing to validate what the observed changes mean.” – Filip Van Immerseel from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Ghent University
If there is one area which is the current focus of many research projects, it is the microbiome. Filip Van Immerseel from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Ghent University provided some insight into his work on unravelling the functions of gut microbiota using ‘omics’ technologies. “The technology is revolutionary in that we can now find beneficial bacteria that are linked to performance and disease resistance and we can map microbial pathways and metabolites in relation to health.” Van Immerseel indicated that this is immensely helpful in the development of new probiotics. “Omics technologies will expand our knowledge of host-microbiota interactions, we can then use the data for feed additive testing, and design and use traditional wet lab testing to validate what the observed changes mean.”
In pairing omics with big data we can run and interpret large sets of samples to gain a complete understanding of the microbial status of a region or even a farm complex. -Dr Marion Bernardeau, Danisco
From the presentation of Dr Marion Bernardeau, principal scientist in the innovation department of Danisco animal nutrition, it was clear that Dupont is already fully exploring omics technology. “In pairing omics with big data we can run and interpret large sets of samples to gain a complete understanding of the microbial status of a region or even a farm complex. With that information we could develop tailored probiotic solutions to manage gut health and the performance of the poultry production unit involved.”