Poultry Research
Nesting behaviour in laying hens is complex, and according to poultry scientists such as Dr. Michelle Hunniford of the department of animal biosciences at the University of Guelph in Ontario, there’s a lot left to discover.
Published in Eggs - Layers
Currently, more than 90 per cent of broiler chicken feeds contain enzyme supplements, which have a direct positive effect on animal performance.
Published in Nutrition and Feed
When it comes to disease diagnostics, time is of the essence. And yet there is currently no commercial, on-farm detection technique for poultry diseases like avian influenza (AI).
Published in Health
There are some types of E. coli (known as avian pathogenic E. coli [APEC]) that can cause serious or fatal colibacillosis infection in chickens. Many factors predispose birds to the infections.
Published in Layers
MSD Animal Health, known as Merck Animal Health in the United States and Canada, is proud to announce its sponsorship of the 2018 High Quality Poultry Science Award to be granted to three recently graduated students in veterinary or animal science in support of research in poultry health, production and welfare.

The award recipients will present their research to a number of industry specialists at upcoming MSD Animal Health High Quality Poultry meetings to be held in Asia, the Americas, and Europe in 2018.

"As a company committed to the Science of Healthier Animals, MSD Animal Health is proud to invest in the future of young researchers," said Taylor Barbosa, DVM, Ph.D., ACPV, executive director, Global Poultry Marketing, MSD Animal Health. "We believe this opportunity will help prepare students for their vital roles within the poultry industry and contribute to further innovation and advancements in poultry health and performance."

Eligible graduates must have completed, at minimum, a Master's or Doctoral degree in the past 12 months and have completed research for an applied project in either veterinary or animal science with an emphasis on poultry. Topics of interest include infectious diseases, vaccine development, Poultry Mite infestation control, gut health (Coccidiosis, Necrotic Enteritis), welfare, hatchery, antibiotic reduction, food safety (Salmonella, Campylobacter), and environmental impact.

To apply, candidates must submit a 300-word summary of their research project, resume and a brief letter, no longer than 300 words, describing why their work contributes to theimprovement of the poultry industry to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Applications must be submitted by April 27, 2018. The award recipients will be notified by June 1, 2018.

One student per region will be selected and must be available to travel and present their research in their respective regions in 3Q2018 (China), 3Q2018 (Argentina), and 4Q2018 (Europe). The company will assume responsibility for travel expenses incurred.
Published in News
Researchers at The Pirbright Institute have created a new method of genetically modifying the Marek’s disease vaccine so that it is able to protect against another destructive poultry virus called infectious bursal disease (IBD), and potentially others such as avian influenza and Newcastle disease. This approach could lead to a reduction in the number of vaccines that need to be administered to each bird.

For the first time, Pirbright scientists have been able to use a gene editing system called CRISPR/cas9 to add a gene of the IBD virus into a current Marek’s disease vaccine virus. The added genetic material protects poultry against IBD in addition to the protection already offered by the Marek’s disease vaccine, meaning that bird owners would only need to use one vaccine instead of two. For the full story, click here.
Published in News
Chicken is Canada's favorite protein, according to a recent survey conducted by Leger for Chicken Farmers of Canada. Eighty-four per cent of Canadians purchase fresh chicken on a regular basis, and 90 per cent place chicken among the top three meats they eat most often – consuming more Chicken than beef [72 per cent], pork [52 per cent] or other meats.

Among all respondents, 84 per cent report they have something that they like about chicken. The most common reasons Canadians like chicken products include flavour/taste, the versatility of chicken, and the fact that chicken is a healthy source of protein.

Despite their love of chicken products, the survey also reveals many Canadians don't have the full story when it comes to their knowledge of the Canadian chicken farming industry:
  • Only 43 per cent of respondents believe that Canadian chickens are raised without hormones or steroids, when in fact hormones and steroids have not been used in Canadian chicken production for more than 50 years.
  • On average, respondents who gave an answer, believed only 45 per cent of chicken farms in Canada are family owned and operated, when in reality Canada is home to 2,800 chicken farms and over 90 per cent are family owned and operated.
  • 57 per cent of respondents correctly believe there are animal welfare standards applicable to all chicken farms across Canada. These standards are consistent, mandatory and third-party audited.
  • 34 per cent of Canadians believe chicken is the most sustainable meat, and this checks out: Canadian chicken farms lead in sustainability with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions among all livestock commodities.
  • When you have access to the facts, it's clear: Canadian chicken farms lead the way in sustainability while providing affordable food to Canadians. The industry is a key economic driver, sustaining 87,000 jobs across the country while contributing $6.8 billion to GDP and $2.2 billion in tax revenue to all levels of government.
Survey completed by Leger: An online survey of 1,500 Canadians was completed between Nov 13 and 23, 2017, using Leger's online panel, LegerWeb. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20.
Published in News
The provincial government will invest up to $713 million toward a unique agreement between the University of Guelph and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) to further discovery and innovation and position Canada as a world leader in agri-food.

Through the renewed OMAFRA-U of G agreement, OMAFRA and U of G will build on world-class agri-food research, including new advances in artificial intelligence, big data analytics and precision agriculture.

“Scientific research is critical to developing innovations that benefit people, animals and the environment,” said U of G president Franco Vaccarino. Agri-food innovation also attracts investment and highly skilled talent, making the economy more robust, creating jobs and sustaining strong communities, he said.

The agreement brings together academia, government and industry to support and enhance Ontario’s agri-food sector through cutting-edge research and innovation.

The commitment to the agreement was renewed for another 10 years today during an event at U of G attended by leaders from industry, government, and academic institutions.

“The partnership has led to breakthrough discoveries and revolutionary advancements during the past two decades. It demonstrates the profound impact that government and universities can have when they work closely together with shared goals,” Vaccarino said.

“This novel partnership has positioned Ontario and Guelph as the epicentre of agricultural research and innovation in Canada, and supported industry development and growth – contributing billions to Ontario’s economy.”

Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Minister Responsible for Small Business, said, “Our government looks forward to continuing to partner with the University of Guelph to ensure Ontario’s agri-food sector is the most innovative and productive in the world, producing the highest quality and safest food for Canada and the world.”

Agri-food is a leading Ontario economic sector, contributing more than $37 billion to the province’s economy and employing more than 800,000 people.

As highlighted by Dominic Barton and the Advisory Council on Economic Growth, Canada can be a global leader in agri-food, with new value-added products, technologies, and solutions, said Malcolm Campbell, U of G’s vice-president (research).

He added that one of today’s great global challenges is safely feeding the world’s rising population while protecting the environment.

“It’s a hefty challenge, but U of G, as Canada’s food university, is up to the task. We have a 150-year legacy in agri-food and a reputation for innovation and discovery,” Campbell said.

The OMAFRA-U of G Agreement will provide the platform necessary to create new knowledge, and devise novel technologies and agricultural practices to produce safe, nutritious food while preserving biodiversity, animal welfare, and human health.

U of G is first in Canada and 14th in the world for agricultural science according to the U.S. News & World Report ranking of best global universities for agricultural sciences.

The Ontario Veterinary College is first in Canada, third in North America and sixth worldwide among veterinary colleges in a ranking by Quacquarelli Symonds, which names the world’s best universities in 46 academic subjects.

The University’s $77-million Food from Thought research project, funded by the federal government in 2016, is creating novel tools for producing more and safer food while also protecting the environment.

U of G and OMAFRA established an enhanced agreement in 1997; it was renewed for 10 years in 2008. The new agreement will take effect April 1, 2018.

Under the new agreement, the University receives up to $71.3 million a year to manage research and innovation programs and related facilities, including the Ridgetown Campus, the Agriculture and Food Laboratory program, the Animal Health Laboratory program, and 15 research stations and centres.

The Agreement also supports knowledge mobilization and commercialization.

Examples of innovations stemming from the OMAFRA-U of G Agreement:
  • New detection methods and management systems for diseases such as avian influenza and biocontainment facilities. Researchers study highly hazardous food and animal-to-human pathogens and viruses such as West Nile virus and tuberculosis, and lower-level pathogens, such as coli 0157:H7, Salmonella and Listeria, in a safe and secure environment
  • The world’s first compostable coffee pod, PurPod100, developed by a research team at U of G’s Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre working with Club Coffee and Competitive Green Technologies
  • Governor General’s Award for Innovation-winning technology to identify and breed cows with better immunity to diseases, reducing antibiotic use and saving livestock producers millions of dollars annually
  • A national research group studying cropping practices that mimic natural ecosystems and improve resiliency to climate change
  • The commercialization of discoveries and innovations via Gryphon’s LAAIR (Leading to the Accelerated Adoption of Innovative Research). Researchers pitch their ideas to a panel of industry experts and business managers; winners receive grants to turn ideas and discoveries into a marketable product or technology
  • Research on biocarbon and other unconventional fuels to improve efficiency and sustainability
  • A natural formula, hexanal, to prolong the shelf life of fresh produce
  • Smartphone applications that identify and control field pests
Published in News
Feather pecking is not an act of aggression but repetitive pecking that is thought to be a result of stress, according to Dr. Krysta Morrissey, a postdoctoral researcher with the department of animal biosciences at the University of Guelph. “It can cause pain and injury and is an animal welfare concern.”
Published in Eggs - Layers
Commercial poultry operations can contribute significantly to the atmospheric burden of ammonia, which is considered to be detrimental to both human and animal health as well as the environment. Ammonia, the major noxious gas associated with poultry manure, is produced from microbial decomposition of nitrogenous compounds.
Published in Health
Canadian Poultry will be ringing in the New Year with a makeover. Starting in 2018, you will notice some serious cosmetic changes in our pages, including our cover.

But, it’s not all cosmetic, the January issue of Canadian Poultry will also see the addition of some great new content, such as our Ask the Vet column, a revamped back page that will showcase poultry operations from across Canada, and so much more.

Here’s a sneak peek at our new cover look!
Stay tuned for more.
Published in Companies
October 12, 2017, Calgary, Alta. – The Alberta government is bumping up funding for more spaces at the University of Calgary's veterinary medicine program.

Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt says the province will reallocate $4.7 million per year to the Calgary program beginning in 2020.

However, the move is accompanied by a decision to withdraw more than $8 million in annual funding to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

The dean of WCVM, Douglas Freeman, says he is ''deeply disappointed'' with the move, saying it severs a 54-year-old partnership that began in 1963 when the Saskatoon institution was jointly established by the four western provinces.

Freeman says losing that large chunk of funding beginning in 2020 will ''certainly have an impact'' on the WCVM's programs and services.

Alberta hopes to add 80 additional positions to the Calgary program by 2023, bringing its capacity to more than 200 veterinary students.

''The University of Calgary's veterinary program has grown into a world-renowned institution, and with this new funding we will now have the capacity to train all of our students right here in Alberta,'' Schmidt said in a news release.

''The partnership with the other provinces worked for many years, but by focusing our support on one Alberta-based program, we will achieve provincial cost savings and increase access. This will make life better for students, families, and communities.''

Dru Marshall, academic vice-president at the University of Calgary, said the government investment cements the province's support for the Alberta livestock industry.

Freeman, meanwhile, said the WCVM will soldier on without Alberta's participation.

''One province's decision doesn't erase all that we have built and accomplished together in the past five decades,'' he said. ''The WCVM will continue to be Western Canada's veterinary college, providing quality veterinary education, research and clinical expertise to the region. We will not let the loss of support from one partner jeopardize our college's value to all western Canadians.''
Published in Health
October 4, 2017, Puslinch, Ont. – Following the 60th edition of the London Poultry Show, organizers have rebranded the annual event the Canadian Poultry Expo for 2018.

The show, in partnership with Western Fair District and Poultry Industry Council, has been growing steadily with the past few years showing tremendous success becoming the largest show in Canada for the poultry industry.

The show has gained international recognition and support with exhibitors and industry attendees coming from across North America and from overseas.

“We are proud of the success and the size of this show which just keeps getting bigger each year,” PIC executive director Keith Robbins said in a press release.

“The location is perfectly situated to draw attendees from Northeastern United States and from all across Canada. You owe it to yourself to make it to the April show if you want to evaluate new technology, attend the education sessions, or network with others in the poultry sector.”

The 61st edition of the event goes April 4-5.
Published in Company News
October 3, 2017, Toronto, Ont. – Residents in some Toronto neighbourhoods will be allowed to keep chickens in their backyards under a pilot project approved today by city council.

The pilot will run in four city wards over the next three years with an interim review in 18 months.

Residents can keep up to four chickens – no roosters are permitted – and must register with the city.

Chickens would not be allowed in apartment buildings, condominiums or properties without sufficient outdoor space.

Opponents of the pilot have argued it will generate complaints and tie up the city's bylaw enforcement officers.

Several municipalities in Ontario, including Kingston, Brampton, Niagara Falls and Caledon, all allow residents to keep chickens in backyard coops.
Published in Emerging Trends
September 5, 2017 - The 20-somethings were from all over the world: the U.S., England, Ireland, Turkey, Brazil, Kazakhstan and Peru. And if they had one thing in common, it was their view of the supermarket.

“Do you think grocery stores are important?” they were asked by Alltech chief innovation officer, Aidan Connolly.

“Yes, they’re very important,” replied one young woman, “for old people.”

Leading Alltech’s Corporate Career Development Program, Connolly was hearing in this next generation of consumers a receptiveness for the sweeping, fundamental changes in the production, distribution, purchase and consumption of food heralded by the $13.4 billion Amazon acquisition of Whole Foods.

“When we buy our groceries, we mostly buy online,” one student told him.

The huge e-commerce company had already been dipping its toe in the food delivery market when it turned its eye toward Whole Foods. AmazonFresh, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, is a grocery delivery service currently available in some U.S. states, London, Tokyo and Berlin.

The announced intentions of this mega consumer product distributor to take a step further into the brick-and-mortar premium grocery business has made waves all along the food chain, from retail to agriculture.

“I think it's an extraordinary moment,” said Mary Shelman, former director of Harvard Business School's Agribusiness Program. “This could truly be a disruption rather than a change."

“Disruption means you do something in a completely different way rather than just making some incremental changes to it,” Shelman continued. “Amazon, which had historically envisioned a world without brick-and-mortar stores, is now, in one fell swoop, making a significant run into that brick-and-mortar world.”

The deal, providing Amazon access to Whole Foods’ 466 stores in the United States and the United Kingdom, hasn’t yet closed, and there is plenty of speculation that competitive bids could materialize. But Amazon has its reasons to pursue the acquisition with determination.

“Food is the least penetrated category from the online shopping standpoint,” explained Shelman. “Amazon clearly wants to bring that into the fold. I think the realization is that it takes some different skills and infrastructure in food than perhaps they are set up to deal with, so this gives them a tremendous opportunity to learn from that, and to run with that.”

Addressing widely held consumer perceptions may also play an important role in this odd-couple marriage.

As Shelman sees it, “For Amazon, the biggest challenge in delivering fresh products to your home is what everybody always says: ‘Oh, I don't trust them. I want to go pick out my fruits and veggies and my meats myself.’ Whole Foods brings in that brand name that has value, so it’s: ‘I trust Whole Foods, so now I trust Amazon bringing me Whole Foods quality. Do I trust Whole Foods to deliver for me? I don't think they're very efficient. But Amazon delivering Whole Foods is like, wow!’ So both sides win from the opposite brand name.”

What might this mean at some key points along the food supply chain?

Producers and growers in an Amazon/Whole Foods world

The biggest obstacle for producers trying to access markets through the food retail industry today is the enormous power held by the supermarket and big box chains as gatekeepers to the consumer.

Control of in-store product positioning provides an enormous source of revenue for traditional supermarkets. So-called “slotting fees” must be paid to win premium space in order for a product to appear on the shelves of Krogers, Safeways and other major chain stores.

“Only big companies can afford to do that,” said Shelman. “Even if you are a small company and can find the money to pay a slotting fee to get on the shelf, the ongoing costs of the promotion and support that it takes to actually get your sales up to a level that is acceptable to that retailer is a staggering number — something like $100 million, $10 million to introduce a new brand today.”

A major casualty of this, she notes, is creativity.

“We see that in the big packet food industries: They just bring out yet another flavor, another line, another variation in that brand, and they keep blocking up that shelf,” she explained. “You really don't get any true innovation there.”

Shelman believes the evolution of the “Amazon marketplace” is providing new opportunities for smaller producers to bypass those costs and directly reach the consumer.

But Connolly believes “Big Ag” and smaller farmers alike have some concern.

“It's part of seismic changes taking place in the food chain,” he said. “The top 10 food companies have seen a decline in their sales, profits and share prices as consumers reject traditional famous food brands built around processed foods.”

Every day these shifts are reflected in the news: Nestlé being a $3.5 billion target by an activist investor; Kraft’s attempted takeover of Unilever; Amazon gobbling up Whole Foods; and Wal-Mart’s purchase of Jet.com

So, if traditional “Big Food” players are in trouble, how should agribusiness respond?

“It must adapt to the new reality,” says Connolly, listing the top three strategies food businesses must take to thrive in the changing landscape:

Become lean: Big Food that is merging or being acquired will seek to drive costs out of the system.
Deliver prosumer values to address the prosumer and millennial agenda of traceability, transparency, sustainability, welfare and removing unwanted additives.
Go direct and to build your own brands again.

Connolly notes that “this is a new era with the food business re-fragmenting, and smaller brands will be faster to build and sell direct. Consumer sales over the internet offer an opportunity for ‘Big Ag’ that was not available 20 years ago.”

In this new coupling, who will take the lead? Shelman expects that Amazon will pull Whole Foods toward its brand promise and mass appeal: convenience and reasonably priced items across quality levels.

“I don't believe Amazon will broadly adopt the same positioning and values as Whole Foods across their broader food portfolio,” she said. “I can't imagine them not selling Cheerios or Kraft Mac & Cheese online. They may initially adopt a higher quality approach in fresh products — meats and produce, since those seem to require a stronger brand to sell.”

Consumers in an Amazon/Whole Foods world

Today’s consumer is swimming in a sea of options and information. The innovation of the “food kit” has given rise to the home-delivered packages offered by Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Plated, Purple Carrot and Home Chef. Nestlé has invested in the prepared meal delivery service Freshly, and Sun Basket has attracted Unilever capital.

It takes time to complete a merger with all the complexities brought to the table by Amazon and Whole Foods. So what's going to happen to the rest of the food industry while t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted? Views differ about the extent to which the merger will cause change.

Speaking to analysts and investors at a conference in Boston, Kroger CFO Mike Schlotman said he doesn’t envision a major shift to people ordering groceries online for delivery to their homes.

“Part of me refuses to believe that everybody is just going to sit at home and everything is going to be brought to their doorstep and nobody is ever going to leave home to do anything again,” said Schlotman.

But, according to Connolly, “the United States has been slower to the party than other parts of the world,” and there is plenty of evidence that significant change is already well underway.

“Maybe there are some of us that take joy in walking up and down the grocery aisle and doing that as our chore, but what consumers are saying is that they're voting with their feet,” Connolly said. “They're saying, ‘If you give me a better alternative, I won’t go to the store.’"

Connolly recalls the observations of a friend who is involved in the food industry in the U.K., working with Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, who forecasts that we're in the last five to eight years of the big box model of the supermarket.

“What we're going to see in the future, according to him, is much more of a Starbucks version of a grocery store,where you can buy the small produce, organic, the pieces that you want to have hands on, but for the most part, you're going to pick it on your cell phone, ordering it directly, and it will arrive today by delivery in a half-an-hour increment,” he explained. “So if you say 4:00 p.m., it'll be between 4:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. In the future, that will be delivered by robots, which is already happening in England, and eventually it'll happen by drone.”

One of the world’s largest pork producers, Smithfield Shuanghui of China, has a strategic cooperation agreement to sell packaged Smithfield meats through JD.com, a Chinese version of Amazon.

“They’re creating a cold chain system from the warehouse to the customer, selling fresh chilled foods, including packaged meats,” says Michael Woolsey, senior strategic manager for Alltech China. “If a customer in the morning decides they want to have hotdogs from Smithfield for dinner that night, they take out their cell phone, dial up JD.com, order the hotdogs and the truck shows up later that afternoon. Chilled distribution the entire way to the consumer’s door. So, it’s a superior product. It’s what consumers want. It’s an exciting development.”

Shelman says today’s marketplace “is just fundamentally different” as consumers are being conditioned to a whole different set of solutions.

“I think for everybody now, the fun of thinking about these different scenarios and letting go of the old retail model is leading us all to be very challenged to think about what that future is going to be like,” she said. “How are we going to get our food 10 years from now?”

Connolly sees profound change arriving even sooner.

“If we think of machine vision, where you use a camera with artificial intelligence, you can teach your camera to recognize what you want in your meat, what you want in your produce,” he said. “It can learn to smell the produce. It can learn to recognize the color that you want. It can probably even, using these internet of things-type devices, give you all of the origins of and the pesticides used in the products, all of the things that might cause allergies.

“So, your drone, equipped with the right camera and the right artificial intelligence, can do these things,” continued Connolly. “And we are not talking about something that is going to happen in the next 30 years. This can happen within the next 12 months.”

And 20-somethings from Brazil to Kazakhstan can hardly wait.
Published in Consumer
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
Dr. Gregoy Bédécarrats, professor at the University of Guelph, Canada is the 2017 Novus Outstanding Teaching Award recipient. A successful academic career, innovative research and his dedication to encouraging the next generation of poultry scientists make Novus proud to honor Bédécarrats.

Part of Novus’s goal to help cultivate sustainable animal agriculture is the encouragement of young people to succeed in the industry. Each year, Novus honors those who exhibit excellence in research, teaching and their contributions to poultry science at the Poultry Science Association annual meeting.

“Receiving the Novus Teaching award at this year’s PSA meeting is a true honor. From being a student myself to my academic appointment, I had the opportunity to meet exceptional people who helped carve my teaching style, serve as mentors and be inspirational,” said Bédécarrats.

He got his start in poultry science as a master’s student at the University of Rennes, France where he studied the effect of prolactin on incubation behavior in turkey hens. He continued his studies in poultry science pursuing his doctorate at McGill University. After three years of a postdoctoral fellowship at the Harvard Medical School, Bédécarrats joined the department of Animal Biosciences at the University of Guelph. He points to a great support system and industry partnership when reflecting on his success.

“In particular, this achievement would not have been possible without the help of late Professor John Walton (University of Guelph) who made me understand the value of engagement in undergraduate teaching, and Dr. Donald McQueen Shaver who helped me connect the dots between research, education and the poultry industry. Constant engagement and exchange between these three pillars is key to success and, thanks to the support of Novus International, this is a reality for many students and industry partners,” said Bédécarrats.

In addition to his research pursuits, Bédécarrats is also actively involved in undergraduate teaching and curriculum development, review and improvement. Bédécarrats works with both graduate and undergraduate students and does his best to support their interests and future endeavors. Bédécarrats encourages students, at any level, to attend at least one international science meeting per year, present their work often and get published as much as possible. 

“Dr. B is the best professor ever. He explains content clearly and with a sense of humor that actually helps a lot of us understand the complicated concepts and makes sure you know what’s important for your future work,” one student posted online. 

Most of Bédécarrats’ students have moved on to higher education and many have advanced into significant positions in the livestock industry. Bédécarrats is also the co-creator of the University of Guelph Poultry Club, which is an organization developed to expose students to the poultry studies and promote interactions within the industry.

Bédécarrats is also passionate about improving reproductive efficiency in poultry and finding a better balance between production parameters, health, animal welfare and the environment. One of Dr. Bédécarrats’ biggest accomplishments has been the development of an innovative LED, known as AgriLux™, based on the discovery that different lighting sources had different effects on laying hens and that chickens find the red spectrum more favorable. This product intends to increase egg production in hens using the light without increasing their feed consumption, as a helpful tool for producers.

Bédécarrats has proven to be an innovator in research and teaching and will continue to push himself and his students to make advancements in the field.

“Above all, my utmost gratitude goes to my wife and children who have sacrificed countless hours of family time while I pursue my dream and goals,” said Bédécarrats.
Published in Researchers
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
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
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