Livestock Research
August 25, 2017 - For its latest World Mycotoxin Survey, Biomin conducted more than 33,000 analyses on 8,452 finished feed and raw commodity samples from 63 countries from January to June 2017.

These analyses covered common components used for feed such as corn, wheat, barley, rice, soybean meal, corn gluten meal, dried distillers grains (DDGS) and silage, among others.
Results of the analyses found that deoxynivalenol (DON) and fumonisins (FUM) are the most common mycotoxins found in feedstuffs.

The survey details the incidence of the main mycotoxins occurring in agricultural commodities, which include aflatoxins (Afla), zearalenone (ZEN), deoxynivalenol, T-2 toxin (T-2), fumonisins and ochratoxin A (OTA).

Overall, deoxynivalenol and fumonisins were detected in 81 per cent and 71 per cent of all samples at average levels of 798 parts per billion (ppb) and 1,840 ppb, respectively. Out of all samples, 52 per cent were contaminated by zearalenone. Aflatoxins, T-2 and OTA were present in 26 per cent, 19 per cent and 18 per cent of samples, respectively.

Ninety-four per cent of all samples contained at least one mycotoxin, and 76 per cent of all samples contained two or more mycotoxins. READ MORE
Published in Nutrition and Feed
Keith Robbins grew up on a farm just north of London, Ont. There were no feathers in the mix. Instead, his family raised cattle, pigs, some sheep and grew grains. But today he heads up one of the country’s most important poultry organizations.

Four years ago, Robbins became executive director of the Poultry Industry Council (PIC). He assumed the role after two decades in communications positions with Ontario Pork. “The only commonality was that they’re both monogastrics,” Robbins says in comparing the two industries.

The Centralia College grad, who holds an agricultural business management diploma, had to be a quick study, as he was tasked with leading PIC through a major transition.

As background, the organization was founded in 1997 when the Ontario Poultry Council and the Poultry Industry Centre merged. The move brought both groups’ responsibilities – education extension, event co-ordination, and research administration and co-ordination – together under the newly created PIC moniker.

Then in 2013 it took a different direction. Ontario wanted a one-stop centre to streamline the application process for livestock study. Thus, the Livestock Research Innovation Corporation (LRIC) was born and Tim Nelson, then PIC’s executive director, became the new entity’s CEO.

That’s when Robbins entered the fray. Supported by a small team of staffers working out of PIC’s head office near Guelph, Ont., and guided by a dozen directors, he was tasked with refocusing the council solely on education extension, events and project management. Its research responsibilities would be gradually transferred to the LRIC.

A few years in, Robbins is happy with how the transition progressed. “It became an opportunity for us to look at how we run events and manage profitability,” he says.

Indeed, as PIC celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, it has plenty to celebrate. Its events continue to draw, not just more producers, but more industry salespeople as well. These reps often become extension staff for the council by sharing the resources it develops. “They often ask, ‘Can I get a couple more copies of that handout?’ ” Robbins says. “That’s a great opportunity for us to put out other factsheets.”

The London Poultry Show, the council’s marquee trade event, drew record numbers two years in a row. Likewise, its annual golf tournament also saw its largest ever turnout last year. And PIC continues to add to its events portfolio, now averaging about two events per month. The council grew its presence in Eastern Ontario as part of that effort, including bringing its Producer Updates educational series to St. Isidore.

What’s more, membership has steadily increased, despite widespread industry consolidation that would typically mean fewer members. “The driver is the material they’re developing,” says Al Dam, poultry specialist with Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).

“We try to ensure everything we do is driven by our members,” Robbins explains. “They ask and we provide what they need.” Take culling, he cites as an example. One of PIC’s most highly regarded initiatives in recent years was its Euthanasia Resources and Training Project.

PIC’s shareholders identified a strong need for consistent training in the area. Many family farms had developed their own euthanasia practices over the years that they’d pass down. “There may be three generations of you that were doing this in a less efficient manner,” Dam points out.

Thus, the council worked with a diverse range of experts to develop a three-part educational package. “The intent was to have everyone trained to the same level so that the industry has a defendable standard,” Dam continues.

Part one was the “Timely Euthanasia of Compromised Chicks & Poults” poster – a practical guide that helps producers identify young birds that should be culled. The second instalment was the “Practice Guidelines for On-Farm Euthanasia of Poultry” manual.

That document provided the basis for the third instalment – PIC’s Euthanasia Training Program, which is available to farmers in both classroom delivery and video format. Feather boards, organizations and producers across the country utilized all three resources.

PIC’s Poultry Health Day is another example of the council responding to industry trends. While events like Producer Updates and Poultry Research Day often included health-related topics, Robbins and co. saw value in dedicating an entire event to such issues.

Thus, it held its first Poultry Health Day August 2015 in Stratford, Ont. One of the main topics was avian influenza, naturally, as the London Poultry Show was cancelled just a few months before due to an outbreak. The inaugural event was a success, drawing 130 attendees. One of this year’s hot topics was infectious bronchitis, which has plagued Ontario poultry farms in a variety of sectors this year.

Dam expects poultry health to be an ongoing concern for producers and, thus, the council. On the layer side, for example, he sees old diseases the industry solved years ago resurfacing due to housing changes. “What’s old is new again,” he says.

On the broiler side, Dam sees brooding becoming a bigger issue in need of PIC’s attention. He points out that days-to-market continue to shorten each year. This means the brooding period becomes a larger percentage of a bird’s life in the barn. “You screw up that first few days it follows you all the way through,” Dam says.

Going forward, Robbins wants to see a more co-ordinated effort to address farmers’ concerns quicker. Currently, universities conduct the research, LRIC helps with administration and PIC plays that outward role. “That process has to be more interwoven,” Robbins says. “What can we do to solve that problem now?” He also hopes to start live streaming council events to expand its reach.

Looking back on his previous career, Robbins says one of the biggest differences between pork and poultry is marketing legislation. Supply management gives the industry the stability it needs to focus on finding innovative solutions to trends and challenges producers face. That’s where PIC fits in. “Our role is helping understand what those trends are and what they mean for farmers.”
Published in Farm Business
Half of Canadians are unsure about whether our food system is going in the right direction. It’s with this as the backdrop that the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI) launched last summer. Its goal is to help Canada’s food system earn trust through research, dialogue and forums.

Understanding consumer concerns and questions is the important base everyone in the food system needs to set benchmarks for success in communicating with Canadians about our food and how it’s produced.  

Success will only happen if there are shifts between consumer expectations and industry practices – the two must be more closely aligned.

New public trust research by CCFI aims to help bridge that gap. It shows the rising cost of food and access to healthy, affordable food as two top concerns for Canadians, above concerns for health care or the economy. But with 93 per cent of Canadians saying they know little or nothing about farming, determining fact from fiction about our food continues to be a growing issue.

The study, which polled 2,510 Canadians, shows two-thirds want to know more about how their food is produced. Overall impressions of agriculture and trust in farmers and researchers are high.



However, when asked specific questions on topics like antibiotics, environmental stewardship or GMOs, the support shifts significantly from positive to close to half being unsure.   

When people are unsure, it’s easiest to be against something. Advocating for scientific advancements in general requires significant planning, strategy and resources to be effective. Advocating for scientific advancements related to food requires even more effort and investment.   

After studying lessons from losing social licence and public trust in other sectors like oil and gas and forestry and agri-food sectors in other countries, we clearly need to be proactive and transparent about how our food is produced in Canada. The CCFI research shows it’s an opportune time to open up more dialogue with Canadians. Let’s bridge the gap between farm gates and dinner plates!

Crystal Mackay is president of the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity, which represents a coalition of farmers and associated food and agri-businesses proactively working together to provide credible information on food and farming. She is a dynamic presenter who has delivered hundreds of presentations to a broad range of audiences from farmers to university students to CEOs across North America. Visit www.foodintegrity.ca for more information on the organization’s work and a summary of key research findings. Look for new work on public trust in food and transparency to be released at the CCFI Public Trust Summit Sept. 18-20, 2017 in Calgary.
Published in Consumer
August 2, 2017, Alberta - As a child, poultry researcher Sasha van der Klein didn’t beg her parents for a puppy, but for pet chickens. By eventually fulfilling her request, her parents put her solidly on the path that has led to a Vanier Scholarship, Canada’s most prestigious award for PhD students.

Van der Klein’s award is one of 10 Vaniers earned by University of Alberta students for 2017, and the only one for the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, where she is studying under the supervision of Martin Zuidhof, an expert in poultry precision feeding.

Her thesis is investigating how day length during the rearing period of broiler breeders and controlling their body weight affects their reproductive success and nesting behaviour.

“When you give them too much light, it prevents the birds from becoming sexually mature and laying eggs in the year they are hatched,” said van der Klein.

Broiler breeders, the parents of the meat-type chicken, have to get short day lengths when they grow up, to mimic the winter season, just as most birds get in nature, she said.

“This helps the chances of survival of the offspring—it’s essential for the offspring to be hatched in favourable conditions. In nature, the parents sexually mature in spring, and that increases the chicks’ chance to survive. The cue is day length, as winter days are shorter than summer days.”

By answering such questions as how long the hens who had light controls during rearing look for a nest, how long they sit on the nest, and how many eggs they finally produce, she hopes to offer the poultry industry solutions for an array of concerns. These include the high percentage of unusable floor eggs broiler breeders are prone to lay, the poor overall productivity of broiler breeder hens, and also how producers can be most efficient with feed.

Vanier Scholarships are worth $50,000 per year for three years and are difficult to attain because selection criteria includes not just a student’s academic excellence and the research potential of their project, but also the leadership the students demonstrate in their community or academic life.

Although van der Klein is an international student who moved from the Netherlands to pursue her PhD at the University of Alberta, she quickly became immersed in assisting with complex student affairs on campus. For the past two years, she has been the vice-president of labour for the Graduate Students’ Association, assisting graduate students with compliance issues in their research or teaching assistant contracts. This year, she will be negotiating a new collective agreement for graduate students at the university.

The Vanier Scholarship definitely relieves some of the many challenges a PhD student must cope with, and that’s especially welcome when a thesis project involves responsibility for the welfare of more than 200 chickens, said van der Klein.

“I’m thankful to have a great team and many volunteers that helped me during my experiments, but even then the commitment to being a farmer at the same time as being a student is an intense responsibility,” she said.

Van der klein’s research will take advantage of a new feeding system developed at the University of Alberta that minimizes variation in broiler breeder body weights, said Zuidhof

“By controlling this variable, we have already had important new insights into sexual maturation that have not been possible previously,” he said. “Ultimately, commercial application of Sasha’s precision feeding research could decrease nitrogen, phosphorus and CO2 emissions by the broiler breeders by 25 per cent, which is transformational for the poultry industry.”
Published in Researchers
July 28, 2017, Qingdao, China – Experts from agricultural colleges and research institutions throughout China joined together to discuss agricultural and environmental challenges, including how to reduce waste and making farming operations more sustainable, at a recent Alltech China Research Alliance meeting, held in Qingdao.

Alltech China has built long-term cooperative research relationships with 10 well-known universities, research institutes and leading feed and food enterprises.

“The Alltech China Research Alliance is focused on building toward a green agriculture future in China,” said Dr. Mark Lyons, global vice president and head of Greater China for Alltech. “The roadmap to this future requires practical solutions, which will be developed through advanced scientific research and technology and the powerful partnership of these leading agricultural minds.”

Defa Li, professor at China Agricultural University and academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and Kangsen Mai, professor at Ocean University of China and academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, along with more than 30 other professors from agricultural colleges and research institutions, attended and spoke at the meeting, sharing the results of their latest research.

“This meeting of the alliance explored how to reduce antibiotic residues in food, how to effectively use limited resources in the midst of population explosion, and how to reduce water and soil pollution,” said Karl Dawson, vice president and chief scientific officer at Alltech.

A new mycotoxin detection method

The Institute of Agriculture Quality Standards and Testing Technology for Agro-Products of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (IQSTAP) has established a method for the simultaneous detection of 21 mycotoxins, or their metabolite residues, in the plasma of animals. These include toxins such as aflatoxin B1. This testing is expected to become the agricultural industry standard for the detection of mycotoxins in China.

Recently, Alltech and IQSTAP published an article entitled "Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry for Simultaneous Determination of 21 Kinds of Mycotoxins or Their Metabolites in Animal Plasma." Dr. Ruiguo Wang of IQSTAP, who introduced the study, says that it established a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method that simultaneously detects animal plasma aflatoxin B1 and 21 other kinds of mycotoxins or their metabolite residue.

Existing mycotoxin detection methods have very complex sample treatment operations, and high detection costs make it generally difficult to do a variety of simultaneous determinations of mycotoxins. The QuEChERS method (Quick, Easy, Cheap, Effective, Rugged, Safe) is a fast, sample pre-treatment technology developed for agricultural products. It uses the interaction between adsorbent filler and the impurities in the matrix to adsorb impurities to achieve purification.

In this study, 21 samples of mycotoxins and their metabolites in animal plasma were developed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) based on the QuEChERS principle. The method is simple, rapid, low-cost and accurate. It can be used for combined mycotoxin animal exposure assessment and mycotoxin toxicokinetic study. Wang said this method has been submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China for review and is expected to pass as a fungal detector by agriculture industry standards.

Functional ingredients for better pork quality

Another breakthrough came from collaboration between Alltech and Jiangnan University to improve food safety and quality. A Jiangnan University research project showed that the addition of rapeseed selenium in the diet can improve the quality of pork, increasing its water-holding capacity and tenderness. An article published based on Alltech and Jiangnan University’s study confirmed that the additions of flaxseed oil and sesame selenium to the diet can improve pork quality, reducing drip loss by 58–74 percent. The organic selenium diets increased muscular selenium content up to 54 percent. Flaxseed oil and selenium can be used to alter the fatty acid structure of pork, increase omega-3 fatty acids and reduce the proportion of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids in meat, which can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in consumers.

Minerals matter: How trace minerals can impact pollution

Improper sewage treatment and greenhouse gas emissions are leading to heavy pollution of water, soil and air, and some small-scale farms have been closed because of this pollution.

"This will require improved feed conversion, which will reduce damage to the environment without affecting the performance of the animal," said Li.

Inorganic trace minerals in feeds have contributed to this environmental pollution. Due to their low absorption rates, 80–90 percent of inorganic zinc and copper will generally be excreted by the animal, contaminating water and soil.

Organic trace minerals, however, are absorbed more readily. Alltech’s Total Replacement Technology™ is a groundbreaking approach to organic trace mineral nutrition. It features products such as Bioplex®, which includes copper, iron, zinc and manganese, and Sel-Plex®, which includes selenium. Compared to conventional inorganic minerals, these formulations are better absorbed, stored and utilized by the animal and are thus able to meet the higher nutrient needs of modern livestock for rapid growth, maximum reproductive performance and animal health. Additionally, because they are absorbed more readily, less is excreted into the environment.

Some Chinese feed companies are already using Alltech’s Total Replacement Technology. In addition to aiding in animal performance and health, many customers have noted it improves the smell of pig farms.
Published in Environment
July 26, 2017. Madison, NJ - Recently, Merck Animal Health (known as MSD Animal Health outside the USA and Canada) hosted its High Quality Poultry Congress (HQPC) for Europe and the Middle East in Prague, Czech Republic.

The main theme of this HQPC was “Broiler Production in the face of the Changing Consumer Landscape.” The Congress brought together experts from all over the world, who spoke about antibiotic free (ABF) production, nutritional health, hatchery management, animal welfare, and intestinal and respiratory disease control.

Attendees also had the opportunity to hear about the role of INNOVAX-ILT and INNOVAX-ND vaccines for control of Marek’s, Newcastle disease and Infectious Laryngotracheitis, including a customer presentation about their experience with the products.

“We are very proud to have had this opportunity to serve the poultry industry and support our customers as they adapt to an evolving marketplace and new consumer demands,” said William Vaughn, Global Poultry Marketing Director at Merck Animal Health.

Speakers at the High Quality Poultry Congress included:
  • Pavel Mikoska (AHOLD Central Europe) – Consumer & Retailer Perspective
  • Jeff Courtney, DVM (Pilgrim’s Pride) –  Antibiotic Free Production: USA Industry Perspective
  • Dr. Atle Lovland (Nortura) – Managing Production and Broiler Health in the Norwegian ABF Programme
  • Ron Meijerhof (Poultry Performance Plus) – Managing for Chick Quality Using Management Techniques in Hatchery & Brooding
  • Ellen van Eerden (Schothorst Feed Research) – Nutritional Perspectives for ABF Programs
  • Daniel Dring (PD Hood Hatcheries) – Managing Antibiotic Free Production and Bird Welfare in a UK Integration
  • Florence Humbert (FlowBio-Veto) – Food Safety Implications of ABF
  • Richard Currie (x-OvO) – Next Generation Sequencing: Validating the Protectotype Concept
Merck Animal Health also introduced at this Congress, its first High Quality Poultry Science Award. This Award was established to offer students of poultry science the opportunity to share their research with a large global audience of poultry industry specialists.

The 2017 award was presented to Dr. Vishi Reddy, a post-doctoral scientist at The Pirbright Institute, who presented on “Novel Insights in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Laryngotracheitis and Bronchitis Viruses in Chickens.”

On behalf of the attendants of the High Quality Poultry Congress, Merck Animal Health also made a donation to the International Egg Foundation (IEF) in support of their mission to help famers in developing countries sustainably produce eggs to give more people access to a high-quality source of protein.
Published in Research
July 24, 2017, Lexington, KY - Connecting the farm to the lab through research is critical for agricultural innovation. Illustrating its commitment to encouraging student research, Alltech presented the 34th Alltech Student Research Manuscript Award to Matthew Aardsma of Purdue University during the 106th annual Poultry Science Association meeting, held in Orlando, Florida, July 17–20.

The Alltech Student Research Manuscript Award is given to a student who is the senior author of an outstanding research manuscript in Poultry Science or The Journal of Applied Poultry Research.

Aardsma’s winning paper titled, Relative metabolizable energy values for fats and oils in young broilers and adult roosters, focused on developing a bio-assay where feed-grade fats and oils were evaluated for their relative metabolizable energy content quickly and accurately. The paper showed results for several fats and oils that are commonly fed in the poultry industry, and that the results obtained for adult roosters are the same with young broiler chickens.

"Research is an integral part of Alltech and the poultry industry's success to date," said Dr. Ted Sefton, director of poultry for Alltech Canada. "Alltech is proud to sponsor the Alltech Student Research Manuscript Award to encourage students to publish their research in peer-reviewed journals and communicate new technologies and discoveries being made in the lab that can have a direct impact on the farm."

Aardsma grew up in Central Illinois, where his parents encouraged him to explore his interests in agriculture and animal production. He received his bachelor’s degree in animal sciences from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2013 and his master’s degree in animal sciences with an emphasis in poultry nutrition in 2015, working with Dr. Carl Parsons. After a summer internship at Southern Illinois University working in aquaculture nutrition, he began a Ph.D. program in animal nutrition at Purdue University.

Aardsma is currently studying with Jay Johnson and focusing on nutrition-based stress physiology in poultry and swine.

Alltech has sponsored the Alltech Student Research Manuscript Award since 2000, recognizing young leaders in scientific innovation for their commitment to publishing and sharing their work within the poultry sector.
Published in Researchers
Smart agriculture is one of several terms used to refer to the expansion of precision agriculture. Poultry producers have adopted some precision agriculture tools, particularly as they relate to the in-barn environment and monitoring barn conditions.

Smart agriculture is the combination of precision agriculture and big data to provide livestock producers with online, continuous and automatic monitoring of animals and their environment to support optimal management.

It uses a broad range of components – big data, robotics, drones, sensors, etc. – that have to be harmonized to provide real-time measurement or estimation. This allows farm managers to immediately react to data and information.

Livestock processing and input sectors are also adopting smart management features in their businesses. However, the poultry sector has been slower than other livestock industries to adopt them. Part of this delay is because very little research and innovation needed to develop poultry sector-specific technologies has been conducted in Canada.

Also, poultry producers may not fully recognize how these tools could enable their sector to generate higher efficiency and productivity. Applying smart agriculture tools to a cow or sow is easier to understand than how they might apply to a chicken or turkey. It is easier to apply monitoring and decision-making systems to large animals that have significant value and that can be fitted with individual monitoring devices.

Yet, there are a few Canadian universities conducting research on smart agriculture applications for poultry. Dr. Martin Zuidhof of the University of Alberta is developing a precision feeder system for broiler breeders to ensure more consistency in bird condition when egg laying begins in order to improve flock production.

What’s more, the University of Guelph’s Dr. Suresh Neethirajan is developing rapid diagnostic tools for use at the point of care, such as within the poultry barn, to identify disease outbreaks without the delay required for laboratory analysis.  

The Canadian Poultry Research Centre (CPRC) recently added smart agriculture tools to the list of categories for its annual call for Letters of Intent (LOI). It is also investigating methods to identify potential industry issues that might be addressed using this comprehensive approach to management information and decision-making systems.

CPRC 2017 Board of Directors

CPRC’s full board returned for 2017 and has been busy working on the 2017 call for LOIs. It has also been hard at work preparing for the expected Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s call for proposals for a new Science Cluster program under the 2018 to 2023 Agricultural Policy Framework and issues that arise from the ongoing administration of the 38 active research projects.

CPRC is grateful to its member organizations for their continued support of its operations and its appointees to the board of directors. Board members include: Tim Keet, chair and Chicken Farmers of Canada representative; Helen Anne Hudson, vice-chair and Egg Farmers of Canada representative; Erica Charlton, representing Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council and the third member of CPRC’s executive committee; Murray Klassen, representing Canadian Hatching Egg Producers; and Brian Ricker, who represents Turkey Farmers of Canada.

CPRC also appreciates the ongoing support and input from staff appointed by member organizations to support their representatives on the board of directors.

CPRC, its board of directors and member organizations are committed to supporting and enhancing Canada’s poultry sector through research and related activities.  For more details on these or any other CPRC activities, please contact The Canadian Poultry Research Council, 350 Sparks Street, Suite 1007, Ottawa, Ontario, K1R 7S8, phone: (613) 566-5916, fax: (613) 241-5999, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit www.cp-rc.ca.

The membership of the CPRC consists of Chicken Farmers of Canada, Canadian Hatching Egg Producers, Turkey Farmers of Canada, Egg Farmers of Canada and the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors’ Council. CPRC’s mission is to address its members’ needs through dynamic leadership in the creation and implementation of programs for poultry research in Canada, which may also include societal concerns.
Published in New Technology
July 20, 2017, Toronto, Ont. - A new poll conducted by NRG Research Group shows nine out of 10 Canadians want food companies to commit to greatly reducing the suffering of chickens in their supply chains, even if it results in higher prices.

To view the poll results, visit bit.ly/CanadaChickenSurvey.

The poll surveyed consumers on improving each step of a broiler chicken's life, from genetic selection to slaughter. Key findings include the following:
  • 90% oppose using chickens bred to grow so fast they often become crippled under their own weight and support switching to breeds with higher welfare outcomes
  • 88% support ending live-shackle slaughter in favor of less cruel systems that eliminate the suffering caused by shackling, shocking, and slitting the throats of conscious animals
  • 88% oppose extreme crowding by which each chicken is provided with less than a square foot of floor space
  • 86% support banning these conditions even if per-pound cost of chicken meat increases
Respondents also strongly support measures such as keeping chicken litter clean enough to prevent eye sores, flesh burns, and respiratory distress; providing environmental enrichment, such as straw bales and pecking objects, so chickens can engage in natural behaviors; improving lighting standards, including at least six hours of darkness each day to avoid further accelerating the chickens' growth; and implementing third-party auditing programs to ensure laws and commitments are not violated.

The poll was conducted just days after the release of an undercover investigation exposing sadistic animal abuse at more than a dozen Lilydale chicken supplier farms. The investigation revealed workers ripping chickens' legs off, hitting and kicking chickens, and performing crude sex acts with the birds.

Many leading food companies, including Burger King, Tim Hortons, and Boston Pizza, have already adopted meaningful welfare standards to address these issues. But the nation's largest restaurant conglomerate, Cara Foods, which operates brands such as Harvey's, Milestones, and Kelsey's, has yet to commit to a comprehensive broiler welfare policy like its competitors.

The online survey of 500 Canadian consumers was commissioned by Mercy For Animals and conducted by NRG Research Group June 15–20, 2017.
Published in Consumer
July 7, 2017, Saskatchewan - Most agricultural research is aimed at improving crop yields and making animals healthier. Sometimes, however, work intended to make farms more productive can have consequences that reach far beyond the home quarter.

One such example is Roy Crawford, a longtime University of Saskatchewan poultry scientist whose discovery of a mutated gene that caused epileptic seizures in chickens helped guide research into the seizures suffered by many humans.

Crawford is also credited with developing poultry products for consumers, which according to Saskatchewan Agriculture: Lives Past and Present increased demand for birds and returns for producers on farms across the province. READ MORE
Published in Researchers
June 26, 2017, Guelph, Ont – The diverse range of projects the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC) funds was the focus of the organization’s summer reception and dinner held June 14 in Mississauga.

To date, Ontario organizations and collaborations have completed 195 projects through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), and funding for 385 projects totaling $33.3 million has been approved by the AAC board over the past four years.

The program was launched in 2013 and demand remained strong until the final application deadline this past April. GF2 officially ends March 31, 2018.

“The AAC is a strategic enabler. Projects funded have played a significant role in raising the standard and profile of Ontario's agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector,” said Kelly Duffy, AAC chair, in her remarks to the audience. “I know that if we continue to invest in the sector, we will produce long-lasting benefits that will impact future generations.”

Duffy also used the opportunity to highlight overall GF2 program successes. Funding through this federal-provincial-territorial initiative has resulted in innovative research results, increased knowledge and awareness, access to new markets, and supported the overall competitiveness of the sector.

Harry Pelissero of Egg Farmers of Ontario spoke briefly about one of EFO’s latest projects involving gender detection in unhatched eggs.

The non-invasive scanning technology developed at McGill University can identify the gender of day-old eggs before they are incubated. This means female eggs can be incubated for hatching and infertile or male eggs can enter the table or processing egg streams, eliminating the need to hatch male eggs.

“AAC gave us the support to take this from the lab to pre-prototype and then prototype stage,” explained Pelissero. “The investment that AAC has put into this provides an economical solution to a challenge in the industry; this is an outcome that will literally go around the world.”

Ontario Agri-Food Technologies is currently leading a project on open agri-food data collaboration, Ontario Precision Agri-Food (OPAF).

It’s assessing where Ontario and Canada are with precision agriculture and what needs to be done to manage and enable data for future global market access and sustainability. OPAF is collaborating with an initiative called FIWare Mundus that is creating a global Future Internet (FI) ecosystem to enable easy, fast data sharing.

“We’re on the cusp of an evolution; data is at its centre and it’s the new commodity in agriculture,” said OAFT president Tyler Whale. “OPAF is a facilitator that creates trusted relationships amongst value chain partners to integrate new and existing data resources.”

The Ontario Produce Marketing Association is tackling the issue of food waste through a GF2 funded project, and according to lead researcher Martin Gooch of Value Chain Management International, there is a compelling business case for addressing the problem.

“People outside of the industry are often staggered by the amount of waste in food. This is the first project of its kind in North America,” said Gooch.

The OPMA program includes a series of workshops and a handbook with 10 easy to follow steps for identifying where waste happens in farm, processing or retail processes. According to Gooch, a soon-to-be-released case study clearly shows the opportunity of addressing food waste: a 29 per cent increase in grade-out of potatoes resulted in a 74 per cent increase in producer margin.

“A big thank you to AAC for providing the funding; it’s great working with an organization that encompasses the entire chain,” Gooch added.
Published in Business & Policy
June 22, 2017, China – Scientists have identified three mutations that, if they occurred at the same time in nature, could turn a strain of bird flu now circulating in China into a potential pandemic virus that could spread among people.

The flu strain, known as H7N9, now mostly infects birds but it has infected at least 779 people in outbreaks in and around China, mainly related to poultry markets.

The World Health Organization said earlier this year that all bird flu viruses need constant monitoring, warning that their constantly changing nature makes them "a persistent and significant threat to public health".

At the moment, the H7N9 virus does not have the capability to spread sustainably from person to person. But scientists are worried it could at any time mutate into a form that does.

To assess this risk, researchers led by James Paulson of the Scripps Research Institute in California looked at mutations that could potentially take place in the H7N9 virus's genome.

They focused on the H7 hemagglutanin, a protein on the flu virus surface that allows it to latch onto host cells.

The team's findings, published in the journal PLoS Pathogens, showed that in laboratory tests, mutations in three amino acids made the virus more able to bind to human cells - suggesting these changes are key to making the virus more dangerous to people.

Scientists not directly involved in this study said its findings were important, but should not cause immediate alarm.

"This study will help us to monitor the risk posed by bird flu in a more informed way, and increasing our knowledge of which changes in bird flu viruses could be potentially dangerous will be very useful in surveillance," said Fiona Culley, an expert in respiratory immunology at Imperial College London.

She noted that while "some of the individual mutations have been seen naturally, ... these combinations of mutations have not", and added: "The chances of all three occurring together is relatively low."

Wendy Barclay, a virologist and flu specialist also at Imperial, said the study's findings were important in showing why H7N9 bird flu should be kept under intense surveillance.

"These studies keep H7N9 virus high on the list of viruses we should be concerned about," she said. "The more people infected, the higher the chance that the lethal combination of mutations could occur."
Published in Research
June 15, 2017, Austin TX - Global Animal Partnership (GAP), creator of North America’s most comprehensive farm animal welfare standards, has provided a grant-in-aid of research to the University of Guelph, Ontario for a two-year research project that will determine and evaluate the parameters necessary for assessing the animal welfare needs of different genetic strains of chicken breeds.

In 2016, GAP announced its intention to replace 100 percent of chicken breeds that result in poor welfare outcomes by 2024 with breeds meeting specified welfare outcomes within its 5-Step®Rating Program.

The Guelph research project will help determine which genetic strains are best suited for commercial production under the new standards GAP is creating. GAP will provide public updates throughout the duration of the project.

University of Guelph researchers Dr. Tina Widowski and Dr. Stephanie Torrey are leading the project. They will begin by running pilot studies over the summer, and the formal research study is due to begin this fall (Fall 2017), and will take approximately two years to complete (Fall 2019). All results will be published upon completion of the study.

“The research team is excited about the scale and scope of this research grant,” said Dr. Widowski. “GAP’s commitment to developing a scientific and robust methodology for assessing chicken breeds will allow us to explore in a comprehensive way, a large number of factors important to both the bird and producers.”

Dr. Widowski, a researcher and faculty member in the Department of Animal Biosciences, is the University Chair in Animal Welfare and director of the internationally recognized Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare (CCSAW), which has a reputation of hosting the largest animal welfare graduate program in North America. She is also the research chair of Poultry Welfare for the Egg Farmers of Canada.

Dr. Torrey is a senior research scientist in Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare, with an expertise in applied animal welfare. Her team of graduate and undergraduate students focuses on fundamental and applied research with broiler and broiler breeder chickens and turkeys.

Currently, fast-growing chicken breeds resulting in poor welfare outcomes represent 98 percent of all commercially available chicken meat in North America.

Modern chickens have been genetically selected for their fast, efficient growth and higher yield of breast meat. However, this has had detrimental impacts on the welfare of broiler chickens, including immune and musculoskeletal problems, resulting in limitations to the birds’ ability to express natural behaviors like perching, flying, and even walking.

This study will help create a way to objectively evaluate different genetic strains using a comprehensive list of parameters related to behavior, growth, health and production with the end goal of improving chicken welfare and specifically address the many issues resulting from fast-growing breeds.

More than 600 chicken farms currently use the GAP standard, affecting the lives of 277 million chickens annually and making it the most significant higher welfare farm animal standard in the country. Retailers, foodservice companies and restaurants have committed to adopting GAP’s new chicken standard and moving away from breeds of chickens that result in poor welfare outcomes by 2024, including Whole Foods Market, Compass Group, Quiznos, and Boston Market.

The Global Animal Partnership is a global leader in farm animal welfare that has established a comprehensive step-by-step program for raising animals that requires audits of every single farm. GAP makes it easy for consumers to find meat products that reflect their values. A nonprofit founded in 2008, GAP brings together farmers, scientists, ranchers, retailers, and animal advocates with the common goal of improving the welfare of animals in agriculture. So far, the 5-Step program includes more than 3,200 farms and ranches that range from Step 1 to Step 5+ and now raise more than 290 million animals annually.
Published in Genetics
June 13, 2017 - A new international cooperation has been created to develop and establish guidance concerning new animal feed ingredients and new uses for existing feed ingredients.

The International Cooperation for Convergence of Technical Requirements for the Assessment of Feed Ingredients (ICCF) was launched by animal feed and feed ingredient associations from Canada, the European Union and the United States including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the European Commission (DG SANTE), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), the Animal Nutrition Association of Canada (ANAC), the EU Association of Specialty Feed Ingredients and their Mixtures (FEFANA) and the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF).

“The ICCF is the result of a concerted effort to bring together feed regulators and industry feed associations to work together to develop common guidance documents for technical requirements needed in the assessment of feed ingredients,” said ICCF Chair Melissa Dumont.
The ICCF Steering Committee will define the priorities and activities of the project. ICCF expert working groups will develop specific technical guidance documents. READ MORE
Published in Nutrition and Feed
June 9, 2017, Vancouver, B.C. - A&W Canada has announced that it will support the University of Saskatchewan to expand an important research project that will examine lighting enhancements and related health and welfare outcomes for broiler chickens.

The project's broader research focus is to determine lighting effects on the mobility, behavior and physiological welfare of poultry by measuring the impact of the various wavelengths of barn lighting.

A&W is providing $45,000 in funding to the University of Saskatchewan's Dr. Karen Schwean-Lardner to expand the data collection on the impacts of energy efficient LED lighting on broiler chicken welfare and production this fall.

They will examine the differences LED lights make on poultry behavior, welfare and health outcomes. Incandescent lighting has been phased out and much less is known about the welfare and behavioral impacts of LED lighting.

"Through our research, we are always looking for ways to improve food quality and production while maintaining high animal care and welfare standards. Partnerships in research like this allow us to find the sustainable caring solutions we need to feed a growing world," says Mary Buhr, dean of the College of Agriculture and Bioresources.

Dr. Karen Schwean-Lardner is a global leader in poultry barn lighting. Her work is internationally cited and has helped to establish international standards of practice for lighting.

She served as the Chair of the Scientific Committee for the Canadian Poultry Code of Practice, as well as being a member of the Poultry Code Development Committee through the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC). NFACC's Code of Practice development process ensures credibility through scientific rigor, stakeholder collaboration and a consistent approach.

"At A&W we are constantly impressed with the leadership work Karen Schwean-Lardner and the University of Saskatchewan are doing in poultry welfare. We are proud to make a financial contribution to this research to allow the research team to further their understanding of LED barn lighting," says Trish Sahlstrom, Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, A&W Canada.

Dr. Schwean-Lardner says, "The University of Saskatchewan is committed to research that will continue to reinforce Canada's leadership in poultry welfare. Partners like A&W share a commitment to new research that can contribute to the development of new best practices."
Published in Health
June 5, 2017, Ottawa, Ont. - Canadians each consumed 32.5 kg (per capita) of chicken in 2016 resulting in the highest level of chicken consumption in Canada ever.

This confirms that chicken is the favourite of Canadian grocery shoppers and continues to be an important part of the nutritious meals they feed to their families.

Chicken has been the first choice of Canadians for over a decade, when chicken per capita (per person) consumption passed beef for first place, and it has remained in first place ever since.

"Chicken is number one for Canadians who want a healthy and nutritious choice for themselves and their families," said Benoît Fontaine, Chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada. "Our farmers are proud to raise high-quality, nutritious chicken for Canadians. We have been doing this for generations and it's good to know that our hard work is recognized."

2016 was one of the most successful years ever for the chicken industry, with production increasing by 4 per cent to a total of 1.148 billion kg of fresh, nutritious Canadian chicken for consumers.

Trust is a big reason behind the ongoing success of the Canadian chicken industry.

In a recent survey, 93 per cent of Canadians said they prefer to feed their families food raised by Canadian farmers—that support is behind the new "Raised by a Canadian Farmer" brand logo. Now Canadians can have confidence in knowing where their food comes from by looking for the brand—and trust that it was raised safely by a Canadian farmer.

"We have a responsibility to our consumers, to keep their food safe, to protect them, and to humanely and carefully raise the animals we grow," added Fontaine. "Canadian chicken farms are run by hardworking men and women and the birds are being raised to the highest standards for food safety and animal care."

Canadian chicken farmers work hard each day to provide the best possible care for their birds, and to ensure their health and welfare.

Canadian consumers have high expectations of their farmers, from the assurance of a steady supply to ensuring excellence and best practices in animal care and food safety. Canada's chicken farmers are proud to deliver on these expectations, with every flock.

Chicken Farmers of Canada is responsible for ensuring that our 2,800 farmers produce the right amount of fresh, safe, high-quality chicken and that our farmer's views are taken into account when important agriculture and policy decisions are made.
Published in Consumer
June 5, 2017, Guelph, Ont. - Research and innovation are key to finding alternatives to antibiotic and antimicrobial use.

Researchers at the Ontario Veterinary College are studying probiotics as an alternative to traditional antimicrobials to combat pathogens including Salmonella, Campylobacter jejuni, and Clostridium perfringens in poultry.

Over the last decade, Dr. Shayan Sharif’s lab at the University of Guelph has been involved in developing probiotic formulations against Salmonella.

“We’ve clearly shown by using combinations of different lactobacilli or lactic acid producing bacteria we can reduce colonization or burden of salmonella in poultry quite significantly,” says Sharif, an immunologist at OVC and leader of the Poultry Health Research Network.

He is now turning his attention to Campylobacter jejuni, the main notifiable bacterial cause of human enteritis or foodborne illness reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada.Chickens can carry Campylobacter in their intestine. While they don’t show any clinical signs of the disease they can carry it throughout their lifetime.

It’s not necessarily a huge concern to the poultry industry because chickens are asymptomatic but a huge concern to human health, as the bacteria can be transferred to humans through undercooked poultry, adds Sharif.

Few control measures, including vaccination, biosecurity or antibiotics, deter the bacteria. Of added concern, both Campylobacter jejeuni and Salmonella can harbor and transfer antimicrobial resistance genes.

Next up for Sharif’s lab will be work on Clostridium perfringens which can cause Necrotic Enteritis, essentially inflammation of the intestine in poultry.

Necrotic Enteritis can be caused by Clostridium perfringens, but usually works with another microorganism called Eimera or coccidia. The two usually go hand-in-hand and coccidia usually predisposes the animal to the pathogenic effects of Clostridium perfringens, notes Sharif. Coccidia is usually controlled by antimicrobials but without treatment there could be a surge in coccidiosis and Necrotic Enteritis, both of which would lead to major drop in production and increased mortality.

While there are vaccines available to combat coccidiosis, this isn’t the case for Necrotic Enteritis.

Sharif’s research includes examining the effect of probiotics on the overall health, welfare and production of poultry. “We want to know if animals as a whole are healthier, if they produce more, if there is better weight gain and if their feed conversion ratio would be better compared to chickens receiving conventional diets.”

Studies will also determine if immune status is improved in birds who receive probiotics.

“At the end of the day if you’re not able to make a probiotic formulation that is safe, that is efficacious, and also able to provide equal production parameters it is not going to be an economically sound investment for producers,” says Sharif.

This research is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Canadian Poultry Research Council, Poultry Industry Council and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
Published in Research
June 5, 2017, Toronto, Ont. - Food matters. Canadians make choices every day about food that directly impacts their health, environment, and communities. The Government of Canada is committed to helping put more affordable, safe, healthy, food on tables across the country, while protecting the environment.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister, Lawrence MacAulay, announced today that the Government of Canada is launching consultations to support the development of A Food Policy for Canada.

An online survey is now open at www.canada.ca/food-policy and Canadians are encouraged to share their input to help shape a food policy that will cover the entire food system, from farm to fork. Canadians can share their views on four major themes
  • Increasing access to affordable food;
  • Improving health and food safety;
  • Conserving our soil, water, and air; and
  • Growing more high-quality food.
A Food Policy for Canada will be the first-of-its-kind for the Government of Canada, and is a new step in the government’s mandate to taking a collaborative and broad-based approach to addressing food-related issues in Canada.

The online consultation is the first of a number of engagement activities planned with a wide range of participants to inform the development of a food policy.

Feedback from the consultations will provide the federal government with a better understanding of Canadians’ priorities when it comes to food-related issues. The results will help inform key elements of a food policy, including a long-term vision and identifying actions to take in the near term.
Published in Consumer
June 5, 2017, Canada - Egg Farmers of Canada is holding a special call for research proposals, for submission as part of the Poultry Research Cluster.

The Cluster, administered by the Canadian Poultry Research Council (CPRC), provides an opportunity for eligible projects to receive federal funding in addition to industry funding.

Researchers are invited to complete and submit our full proposal funding application form during this special call for proposals.

To be considered for funding, research projects must align with the outlined research priorities (see below) and the principal investigator must also work full-time in a Canadian institution or organization.

Deadline for proposals is June 30, 2017. For further information and to apply, please email Elyse Germain, Program and Policy Analyst at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Details:
  • Full project proposals will be reviewed and funding decisions made by July 31, 2017
  • Projects that receive a positive funding decision will be included in the Poultry Research Cluster submission to Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada (AAFC) in the Fall of 2017
  • Projects approved by AAFC will begin no earlier than April 1, 2018
  • Eligible projects must fall under the research priorities listed below in order to be considered
  • Research priorities
Hen welfare:
  • Hen behaviour and health in alternative housing systems, including housing system design, management and production practices, and pullet rearing
  • End of flock management, including catching, loading and transport, and on-farm depopulation
  • Hen health
  • Disease
  • Gut health
  • Dietary ingredients
  • Environment and sustainability
  • Production practices and technologies that decrease environmental impact and increase sustainability
NOTE: Research should focus on alternative housing systems to align with the industry-wide transition away from conventional housing systems.
Published in Housing
May 31, 2017 - Much is made of the growth of vegetarianism in North America, but domestic meat consumption data indicates that most people in Canada and the United States still have a taste for beef, pork and poultry.

Jim Long of Genesus Genetics, a pig genetics company, often has interesting observations about the pork industry around the world.

In a recent post, he noted that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s red meat and poultry disappearance report projected that domestic meat disappearance would rise to 88.751 billion pounds, up four billion lb. from 2015.

That is great news for anyone who works in the meat and livestock business, including Long.

“Anyone who lives in the fantasy world that vegetarianism is taking over needs to give their head a shake. Meat lovers are ever increasing their consumption,” Long wrote.

On a per person basis, red meat and poultry disappearance at the retail level is projected to rise to 217.8 lb., up 3.2 lb. from 2016 and up 6.7 from 2015. Disappearance has a specific meaning, but for our purposes it means consumption. READ MORE 
Published in Consumer
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