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Canadians Excel at Poultry Science Annual Meeting

At Poultry Science Association Meeting


January 14, 2008
By Dr. Peter Hunton Poultry Consultant

Topics

Canadian poultry research was well represented at the 2006 Poultry
Science Association (PSA) Annual Meeting, hosted by the University of
Alberta in Edmonton July 16-19.

Canadian poultry research was well represented at the 2006 Poultry Science Association (PSA) Annual Meeting, hosted by the University of Alberta in Edmonton July 16-19.

Held in new facilities on the University of Alberta campus, the meetings and associated social functions were efficiently organized by a committee headed by Dr. Valerie Carney of Alberta Agriculture.  Total attendance was 665, with 430 from the U.S., 129 from Canada, 13 from Mexico and 93 from other countries.

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Over 100 of the 425 oral and poster presentations were from Canadian institutions.

While the primary object of the meetings is to share scientific information, there are many social functions. On the evening of July 17th, following a full day of oral and poster presentations, delegates and guests were driven by bus to the Ukrainian Village in the Elk Island National Park for the traditional barbecue.  Ukrainian guides dressed in traditional costume showed groups of visitors around this most interesting site.

Canadian Recipients of PSA Awards
A large number of awards are presented annually or semi-annually at the PSA Awards Banquet, held immediately following the scientific meeting.

Karen Schwean-Lardner from the University of Saskatchewan received the Tyson Food Support Personnel Award. This award acknowledges the long-term (5+ years) contributions by support personnel and to recognize their work as being critical to the ability of faculty.

Karen works with Prof. Hank Classen in the department of Animal and Poultry Science.   She has been with the department for 15 years, and in that time, her job has evolved from research support and data collection to include an important teaching role in both agriculture and at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine.  Karen has also received a M.Sc. degree and is currently conducting research on layer welfare, while studying for her Ph.D.

In addition to this multitude of responsibilities, Karen is also Secretary of the Canada Branch WPSA.  International Secretary, Piet Simons, says she is one of the best branch secretaries in the organization.

Canadian students won four awards in the student competition for Papers of Excellence. 

Patricia Kirby received the award for her poster entitled “Effect of blindness on reproductive performance in a White Leghorn line.” Holly Pizzey received her award for her poster “Effects of dietary lutein on semen parameters in roosters.”  Both Holly and Patricia just graduated from the Animal Biology degree program from the University of Guelph and completed their projects under the supervision of Dr. Gregoy Bedecarrats.

Clinton Ronalds received his award for a paper, jointly written with H.P.V Ruprasinghe and B. Rathgeber of NSAC and AAFC, entitled, “Apple by-products as poultry feed ingredients.”

Dulmelis Gonzalez, a Canadian student working at the University of Oregon, received an award for her poster “Long-term feeding of conjugated linoleic acid and fish oil to laying hens.”  The paper was jointly authored with K.S. Ryu, M.P. Goeger and G. Cherian.

WPSA Lecture
Another part of the PSA meeting is the World Poultry Science Association Lecture.  This is hosted jointly by the US and Canada Branches of WPSA and is an invited lecture by an eminent scientist on a topic of his choosing.  This year’s lecturer was Dr. Hank Classen from the University of Saskatchewan.  Classen is well known as a teacher and researcher and is currently Chair of the animal and poultry science department.

The title of the Lecture was “Opportunities and Challenges in Poultry Nutrition.”  Classen indicated his intense excitement about the future of nutrition research in three main areas:
• Gastrointestinal microbiota
• Nutrition and genomics
• Nutrition and behaviour

Gastrointestinal microbiota
This is perhaps the area where most new research has been concentrated for the past decade.  It has been shown that the components of the diet are the strongest determinants of the size and nature of the bacterial community in the chicken ceca. These organs harbour the largest number and variety of bacteria, including Salmonella species.  However, it is thought that the ceca contribute little to the digestive efficiency of the bird.  More recently, emphasis has been diverted to the bacteria in the crop and the early sections of the small intestine.  These may have an important influence on digestion.  The species and numbers of bacteria are quite different from those of the ceca.  Many instances have been discovered in which nutritional variation leads to changes in the bacterial population.  The use of enzymes has traditionally been directed at improving digestibility, but now targets microbiological effects.

Nutrition and genomics
Although it is doubtful whether nutrition influences the genome per se, there is good evidence that the two factors interact.  Classen used as one example the occasional fishy odour that can be detected in eggs from some brown-egg hens, when fed a diet containing rapeseed.  Although the ability to produce these tainted eggs is clearly genetic, whether or not susceptible hens produce them depends on the diet and to some extent on the bacterial population in the hen’s intestine.  The original work on the genetics of this trait is now being re-interpreted with slightly different conclusions.  Observations at the Univ. of Saskatchewan have demonstrated quite dramatic line differences in tainted eggs under similar conditions.

Another example quoted was the interaction of diet with the bacterium C. perfringens in the incidence of necrotic enteritis in broiler chickens.  The presence of digested corn reduces the numbers of C. perfringens in comparison with undigested wheat, thus influencing the incidence of the disease.  This in turn may be influenced by the presence of dietary enzymes.

Nutrition and behaviour
Recent observations have shown a relationship between nutrition and feather quality, largely resulting from changed behaviour of the birds.  For example, broiler breeders fed low-density diets demonstrate reduced feather pecking and cannibalism.  This is thought to be due to increased time taken in feeding, and a greater sense of satiety.

Following an observation that hogs showed reduced aggression when fed silage, an experiment was undertaken with laying hens.  Hens fed silage as part of their diet showed reduced feather pecking and less feather damage.

Congratulations to Edmonton
The folks in Edmonton are to be congratulated on putting on a first class professional meeting.  Meetings ran to schedule and the facilities were excellent.  Accommodation was available at various locations, none more than a 10-minute metro ride from the campus.  The University of Alberta has hosted PSA the last two occasions it has been held in Canada, 1995 and 2006.  They are becoming good at the job!

Note: If you are interested in viewing abstracts of the oral and poster presentations, these can be viewed on the PSA website: www.poultryscience.org Click on Journals, meeting abstracts and Annual Meeting 2006.