Poultry Research

There is good reason that poultry farmers should be interested in improving air quality in and around their operations for the health of their birds – as well as for themselves and their neighbours.

“Fine particulate matter is a pollutant linked to increased cardiac and pulmonary disease and premature human death,” says Dr. Bill Van Heyst, a professor in the School of Engineering at the University of Guelph. “It should be a serious concern for those in Canadian agriculture since it’s estimated that this sector accounts for upwards of 85 per cent of all human-made emissions of ammonia, a precursor gas for fine particulate aerosols, across this country.”

Know your emissions 
At the same time that simple steps such as planting trees can reduce odour and some fine particulate matter coming from a farm (see “The Buffer Zone” in the February 2010 issue of Canadian Poultry), a thorough understanding of all atmospheric emissions is key to developing the best ways to curb them substantially. “Emissions can occur at all stages in the farm operation including animal housing, manure storage, and subsequent field application of manure,” explains Van Heyst. “Poultry producers need to know which emissions and how much are created at all stages of production. Technologies and best management practices also need to be assessed.”

Investigate everything
Van Heyst and his research team have been investigating the whole emissions picture at broiler operations, quantifying the source strength and the interrelationships between air contaminants such as ammonia, greenhouse gases (methane and nitrous oxide), inorganic aerosol concentrations, and size-fractionated particulate matter. These are measured in two sizes – those 10 micrometres in diameter (PM10) and those 2.5 micrometres and less in diameter (PM2.5). Van Heyst says that although the larger particles can be troublesome to the human respiratory tract, they at least can mostly be expelled through coughing; the smaller particles cannot and are therefore much more dangerous.

“We studied emissions from a broiler house over four production cycles in order to measure changes in emissions during the seasons,” notes Van Heyst. From a barn containing 45,000 broilers raised over a 35-day growth cycle, there was an average of 170 kg of ammonia, 6.8 kg of PM10, 1.3 kg of PM2.5 and 260 kg of methane emitted per cycle. “Typically, the emissions increased as the broilers increased in size,” says Van Heyst. “We found that fine inorganic aerosols, composed mainly of chloride, nitrate, sulphate, ammonia and sodium, were being formed within the barn environment and could contribute significantly to small particulate emissions.”

From the litter storage bunker, he and his team measured an estimated daily average release of 1.8 kg of methane and 0.45 kg of nitrous oxide. Upon land application, broiler litter typically lost 22 per cent of the ammonium within the first 72 hours of surface application. Van Heyst says incorporating litter into the soil immediately following surface application reduced emissions of ammonia from the field.

Other investigations
His experiments have also covered the atmospheric emissions generated from composting dead chickens. Because the composting experiments demonstrated that piles with higher pH (more basic) emit more ammonia – and because broiler litter tends to be more basic than fresh wood chips or mature compost – broiler litter may not be the best carbon bulking material for mortality composting. Instead, fresh wood chips or even spent compost should be considered, as they generate lower ammonia emissions over the composting cycle.

Van Heyst and his team have now moved their measuring devices to a layer facility near Mooretown to see if or how layer and broiler operations differ in terms of emission during 2011. “After we’ve collected data this summer, we’ll start planning to test air pollution control equipment and how management practices can improve air quality both within and exiting poultry barns.” This will likely include litter additives that reduce ammonia to some extent, water misting equipment purported to reduce dust, and ionization dust control systems.

Dust control system tests continue in B.C.
Over the last two years, the B.C. Sustainable Poultry Farming Group (BC SPFG) has been testing a Baumgartner Environics Inc. Electrostatic Particulate Ionization (EPI) dust control system. It’s composed of a power supply of 30,000 volts x 2 mAmps with an ionization discharge line that negatively charges the dust in the air. Dust is then deposited on the grounded surfaces of the barn, such as the walls, floor and ceiling. Testing has occurred in three broiler barns and one turkey barn, and the BC SPFG recently reached an agreement with the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture to extend testing to September 2011.

“The results so far have shown a 50 to 70 per cent decrease in amount of dust in the air in the barns,” says Michael Willcock, BC SPFG’s new manager. The organization’s analysis over more than 10 cycles shows the cost for an installed system in a broiler barn is about $0.85 per square foot, with a return –on investment of about $0.045 per bird per production cycle. Other valuable but limited results suggest that the system can potentially be effective in reducing disease-producing microbial populations.

Dr. Karen Bartlett from the University of British Columbia and Dr. Shabtai Bittman from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) are serving as research partners, and funding sources include the B.C. Investment Agriculture Foundation, the B.C. poultry industry, Agriculture Environment Initiatives, provincial and federal departments of agriculture and the B.C. Agriculture Council.

For more, visit BC SPFG at www.sustainablepoultry.com or Baumgartner Environics Inc. at www.beiagsolutions.com. (Note: The EPI system is distributed by Paradigm Agri-Solutions in provinces outside B.C. – visit www.paradigmag.ca)

Published in Farmer Health/Safety

Tracking down the different ways disease can enter the food production system is not as clear cut as it may seem – especially when there are many steps along the way from farm gate to dinner plate. Speedy analysis would make a difference not only to animal and human health, but also to the environment and economy.

Prof. Deborah Stacey, Director of the Department of Computing and Information Science at the University of Guelph, is looking for a better way for administrators and researchers to plan for and respond to the spread of animal diseases, based on the numerous paths diseases can take.

And to her, the answer is the Shared Hierarchical Academmic Research Computing Network (SHARCNET), a network of high performance supercomputers linked across universities in southern Ontario.

Stacey and her research team are developing free, open-source software that can be modified to suit individual situations when problems arise. Their new software is designed using a “scale-free” network of “hubs” (instead of a random network) to simulate possible distributions of flocks along the food supply chain.

A hub might be a large chicken operation or meat processing plant that distributes poultry to several supermarket chains. The idea is to illustrate the possible distribution paths poultry could take. In a simulated disease outbreak, epidemiologists can study the differences in disease spread that are caused by various distributions or contact networks.

The software also allows researchers to account for many variable elements, such as farm location, the method of transportation, and whether a related disease is airborne. All of these elements can either influence or trigger the spread of a disease.

Stacey says that being able to model the wide variety of these possible paths a disease may take with the help of their new software program will allow government health agencies to study different scenarios and plan for an emergency.

The information will help determine the best course of action – quarantine, vaccination or culling an infected flock – and the possible effect on the plan’s effectiveness and economic viability.

“The models can’t predict where the infections are going to go, but what we can do is help inform epidemiologists and ministry officials so that they can develop policies if there is an infection,” says Stacey.

Joey Sabljic is a student writer with the University of Guelph’s Student Promoting Academic Research Knowledge (SPARK). Also involved in this study are computer science masters students Joel Francis and Sarah Ahmad.

Stacey’s research is supported by OMAFRA, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Chemical, Biological Radiological-Nuclear Research and Technology.

This article was originally published in the University of Guelph’s Research magazine, 2010 Agri-Food Yearbook Edition.

PIC’s Picks
By Tim Nelson, Executive Director

The majority of the research funded through PIC will hit the farm sector a good 10 to 15 years after the work is completed. This means that for the work to be relevant into the future it needs to be developed with a mindset that the results will be implemented 20-30 years from now. “Guessing” what the market will want and what the industry will look like 30 years from now is quite a challenge, as we try to decide what resources, both human and physical, we will need to utilize for the research that will be implemented 20 years after its completion. This is an imprecise process; however, it’s an important one. The feather boards are currently undertaking this process and we’ll report on their thoughts in the March issue of Canadian Poultry magazine. In the meantime, for you poultry sages out there: if you have opinions of our industry’s future science needs, as always, we’d appreciate your opinions.

This year has started with a bang. The first Science in the Pub was held in early January, examining the role of science in farm safety. At the beginning of this month, the Producer Updates were held in Belleville and St. Catharines, Ont.

Also this month are additional Growing Forward meetings. There are more Growing Forward meetings in February wherein producers can take the one-day workshop to be eligible for up to $10,000 in government funds to enhance their biosecurity system(s). There’s still time to register for these events; please see our website at www.poultryindustrycouncil.ca.

We’ll keep you posted throughout the year as other events unfold and look forward to another positive and busy year of research and education delivery for the poultry industry in Ontario.

Efficient evaluation for profitability

Steve Miller and Lindsay Case, University of Guelph

Body conformation is important in the turkey industry, as a substantial proportion of total production is further processed. Breast meat is the highest value component of the further processed carcass. As a result, breast meat yield has a significant effect on profitability, such that conformation and breast meat size has been a selection objective for many years. Together with substantial increases in growth rate and body size, moderate breast meat yield improvements have been achieved.

Selection for conformation has traditionally been on subjective breast conformation score (taking into account size, distribution, chest shape and spread of muscle). Using subjective measures is inherently difficult – there may be differences within and between scorers, and one scorer’s measures may change over time. Objective measures have also been used as selection criteria (including chest width, breast circumference, indentation height from keel to breast and ultrasound muscle depth).

In practice, selection criteria depend on the accuracy, speed and cost of measurements taken. In order to optimally use this type of information, the poultry industry needs a strategy that accounts for ease of measurement, cost and genetic response. Steve Miller, Ben Wood (Hybrid Turkeys) and PhD student Lindsay Case, and their research team at the University of Guelph, have been studying the use of ultrasound as a non-invasive measure of breast meat yield. Their aim is to increase the accuracy of the information used to select for breast meat yield, thereby increasing the selection response within a breeding program.

Measurements were taken on 719 hens from a female breeding line and on 657 hens from a male breeding line. The research team developed a technique in which they took two ultrasound images of each bird (lengthwise and widthwise). Conformation of each bird was measured by a trained scorer, and both methods were compared for accuracy in estimating breast meat yield. Heritability of traits was also calculated.

Their findings? Ultrasound traits showed increased heritability compared to conformation score – meaning the use of this technique should enable more rapid genetic progress. Overall, the research team has shown that ultrasound technology can be useful in increasing the efficiency of breast meat yield measurement in the live turkey. The results of this study can ultimately be used to increase profitability of turkey production with downstream value benefits for the consumer.

Featured Researcher


Deborah Stacey has been with the School of Computer Science at the University of Guelph since 1988. She has been the director of the school since 2006.

Her areas of research are ontologies for software composition, simulation of disease spread in animals and the application of artificial neural networks and genetic algorithms for data analysis. Her area of teaching expertise is software design and software engineering.

She has collaborated with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the United States Department of Agriculture.

Published in Health

In the December 2010 issue of Canadian Poultry magazine, there was a discussion on the subject of funding research projects by the Ontario poultry sector. According to the sources consulted for the article, there are some concerns about the future as it seems that industry support has remained stagnant or “waning,” while the need for poultry research, people, and infrastructure continues to grow.

There is no doubt that the efforts made by poultry research centres at both national and international levels should be recognized and appreciated by the poultry industry. It is of paramount importance to not only continue encouraging this support, but to strengthen the relationship between research centres and the industry. The present article is intended to re-emphasize the importance of this issue and also briefly discuss some approaches that can play a positive role in this regard.

Industry’s challenges
Industry has reached high standards in many aspects of poultry production, but there are still many challenges in different areas, including: nutrition, diseases, food safety, welfare, and the environment. The industry cannot deal with these issues by itself and research centres can provide the industry with unique and effective solutions that can be applied to a variety of regions and types of operations.

Supporting research centres
There is a constant necessity to support poultry research centres because they not only conduct research projects, but they also train the next generation of professionals who will join the industry, government organizations, or academic institutes. One of the main reasons for the expansion of the poultry industry is that the industry has been very efficient in using the scientific information generated at research centres. Although the industry is now able to achieve its objectives in many fields, it should continue to support universities, as universities provide credible research in many different areas. Although the industry feels that its investments in research have been beneficial, such important factors as global economic volatility, consolidation of the industry and increasing competitiveness may limit research funding provided by the industry in the future.

Nature of research projects
Projects at poultry research centres can be generally divided into basic or applied research. Both types are required for further advancement of the poultry industry. Applied projects are usually accompanied with more applicable results (mainly in the short term), and because of this, there has been a strong tendency in the industry to support this category of projects. On the other hand, basic research may not always result in findings with immediate applications, and as a result, there may be a less industry investment in this type of research. However, basic research, in addition to its own benefits, can often support the applied projects in order to make them more understandable for the industry.Although the industry supports basic research, it seems that  these projects will continue to receive  financial support mainly from government or government-associated organizations at both provincial and national levels.

Focusing heavily on research projects with long-term implications can result in disconnection with the industry. On the other hand, the needs of the industry constantly change and it is unrealistic to expect research centres to find solutions for all these problems in a short period of time. Thus, a balanced combination of research projects with short- or long-term applications would be of great benefit for sustainability of the poultry industry. 

Regardless of the nature of research projects, it would also be of great help if some researchers could gain a sufficient understanding of the practical aspects of poultry production by getting in touch more frequently with the “real world.” Research projects should, as much as possible, be helpful to industry and help it find answers for the challenges that exist in the field. 

Mutual understanding
Researchers need to show that their research is of value and relevance to the industry. The industry also needs to be clear on its expectations from research centres. These objectives can be achieved through continuous and constructive communications between these sectors. Good communication will allow collaborative mechanisms to be put in place to establish a direction research should take to find solutions for current and future problems.

Transfer of research findings
Knowledge gaps exist between poultry research centres and different sectors of the industry. Research centres are expected to provide answers to the industry issues of the day. In some cases, answers to these questions are already known, but the problem is that this knowledge has not been efficiently transferred to the industry. Enhancing transfer of knowledge is one of the most important factors that can play a significant role in bridging the gaps between research centres and the industry. Research findings, regardless of how complicated they might be, should always be transferred in a form that can be understood in the real world. 

In order to achieve this important goal, it is of absolute necessity to maintain and enhance an efficient relationship between research centres and the industry to encourage a strong combination of scientific knowledge and real world experiences which will ultimately benefit both sectors.

Holding regular technology transfer meetings is probably still the best way for interactions. However, there are also other approaches that can be taken. Sending out technical newsletters by poultry research centres on a regular basis can be of great help to boost the relationship with both national and international poultry industries.

It seems that trade magazines have a stronger presence in different sectors of the industry compared to peer-reviewed journals. As a result, having researchers write articles in poultry trade magazines can be another effective way of delivering information to the industry.

More recently, the use of social media has become very popular, and this can be another excellent communication channel with the industry. According to results of a survey conducted among farmers in the Netherlands in 2010, 40 per cent of the participants stated that they use social media every week. YouTube was ranked as the most commonly used among the farmers who responded to this survey. Respondents also stated that they will increase their use of these media in the future, particularly for informational purposes.

As stated in the editorial of the December 2010 issue of Canadian Poultry magazine, “Sometimes researchers and farmers don’t know how to talk to one another in the same language, and this is a significant issue for the sector.” Reaching a realistic mutual understanding through efficient communication between research centres and the industry is becoming much more important, and this understanding can be of great help in bridging the gaps and coping with the challenges that both sectors will encounter in the short and long term.

Comments and suggestions provided by my contacts at both research centres and the industry are greatly appreciated. I also thank Emmy Koeleman of Vetsweb for translating (from Dutch to English) results of a survey conducted by AgriDirect among farmers in the Netherlands.


  • Knisley, J. 2010. Declining research investment. Canadian Poultry Magazine. December issue, pp. 36, 38.
  • Nelson, T.  2008. http://www.canadianpoultrymag.com/content/view/1464/41/
  • Taylor, R. L. 2009. The future of poultry science research: Things I think I think. Poultry Science 88:1334-1338.
  • Nudds, K. 2010. Funding our future. Canadian Poultry magazine, Vol. 97, No. 12:4.
  • Poultry Research Funding in Canada. A workshop organized by Canadian Poultry Research Council, Oct. 1, 2008.
  • Shaw, A., L. Stevenson, and K. Macklin. 2010. Improving research at universities to benefit the poultry industry. Journal of Applied Poultry Research. 19:307-311.
  • Yegani, M. 2009a. The future of poultry science: Student perspective. Poultry Science. 88:1339-1342.
  • Scanes, C. G. 2007. The global need for poultry science education, research, and outreach. Poultry Science. 86:1285.
  • Hunton, P. 2010. Global trends in poultry production and research. World Poultry. Vol. 25, No. 9: 19-21.
  • Yegani, M. 2009b. Online professional networking: An effective interactive tool. Poultry Science 88:2014-2015.
  • Pohl, S. K., D. J. Caldwell, and M. B. Farnell. 2010. Extension – what is needed to improve university and industry collaboration. Journal of Applied Poultry Research. 19:316-319.
  • Reynnells, R. D.2001. Transfer Technology in the Poultry System. Journal of Applied Poultry Research. 10: 279-284.
  • Yegani, M. 2009c. The importance of writing in poultry trade magazines. World’s Poultry Science Journal. 56: 569.
  • AgriDirect survey www.agridirect.nl .
Published in Genetics

Ed McKinley, poultry farmer and chairman of the Poultry Industry Council (PIC) is worried that the poultry industry is shortchanging research and will pay a heavy price in the future.

In his annual chairman’s report McKinley said: “I have to wonder why, in an industry to which we owe so much, we producers are not investing at the level of other Canadian private businesses in scientific research and education?”

“I wonder what this will mean for “the future of our industry, for my kids and grandkids.”

McKinley said that Canadian business invests, on average, 1.06 per cent of gross revenue in scientific research. Ontario poultry producers invested 0.043 per cent of farm gate cash receipts through the PIC for research and education. For a farm with $500,000 in farm gate receipts this works out to about $215 per year or $18 a month.

Future funding at issue
This is a “maintenance ration” for the PIC and the research and education programs it supports, he said. The money the PIC gets from producers and its investments is enough to keep current projects going. “But there is nothing being invested for the future, nothing to replace retiring researchers or crumbling research infrastructure or to develop a robust research platform to underpin our future requirements,” he said.

“I use this opportunity to urge our industry leaders to think long and hard about what reduced research investment might mean for our future and I remind producers that research will ensure your children and grandchildren of a poultry industry they too can be proud of,” McKinley said.

Tim Nelson, executive director of the PIC, echoed and reinforced the message.

“To keep up, move ahead and stay ahead of the competition requires investment,” he said.

Education and research cost money. Nelson pointed out that three poultry scientists at the University of Guelph are nearing retirement and there is a need to ensure that the positions don’t disappear.

“We need to develop science leaders,” he said.

Research infrastructure
He added that the emerging, young research stars will be looking for a future in a place where industry supports them and they have research infrastructure that is up to the new tasks they will tackle. Right now, the infrastructure “is not up to the new tasks or is very old,” he said.

He also pointed out that the PIC is able to use money from producers to “leverage” money from other supporters such as government and industry. In 2009, the $428,000 in new investment in research from producers was leveraged six to one and resulted in $2.57 million in research for a 20 to one return for the money producers invested in research.

The downside of leverage is that the PIC can only leverage against what the investing partners want to invest in. Leveraged money also comes with strings attached and it “doesn’t drive our [poultry producers’] objectives as fast as we’d like to drive them.”

Dwindling resources
He also pointed out that some of the sources of money the PIC has been using are diminishing.

For example, investment income has not been “brilliant” the last two years, the provincial poultry team fund finishes in December 2011 and the lysine fund is diminishing.

The difficult economic times of the last two years also reduced revenues from the PIC’s golf tournament and the London Poultry Show.

Government grants are more difficult to obtain and as both the federal and provincial governments work to reduce deficits grant money could become scarce.

It isn’t about the PIC, he noted. It is about the industry and the producers. He pointed out that the PIC is delivering a program as dictated by a strategy developed by producer groups. And it does this while watching its costs. The PIC hasn’t increased its administrative “ask” from farmers for four years, he said.

Farmer input
He said he wants to hear from farmers. He wants to know if they think the PIC is doing a good job or a lousy job. He wants to know what might be done better.

He also said he wants farmers to understand “the value of collective investment in research and the almost negligible cost this represents to individual producers.”

He wants farmers to see how much they are getting for an average of $18 a week and that for $10 per week more “they could inject some real capacity into our research sector that will stand our industry in good stead for years to come.”

He said: “There was a time when industry invested, why not now? What has changed?”

For more information on PIC-funded programs and research, go to www.poultryindustrycouncil.ca.

Published in Health

Two hundred and fifty researchers, technicians and educators, and their equipment, have moved into their new $62-million Pathobiology and Animal Health Laboratory at the University of Guelph.

The building was officially opened in Oct. 7, with delicate equipment and people arriving in stages after the official opening.

The veterinarians and researchers will utilize state-of-the-art equipment to diagnose and study a range of animal diseases and pathogenic organisms, including bird flu, SARS, E. coli, West Nile virus and others. 

The 126,000-square-foot, four-storey building contains a 120-seat lecture theatre, flexible laboratory space, seminar rooms, teaching labs and office space.

The federal and provincial governments provided $62 million for the project. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) contributed $37 million, and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) kicked in $25 million.

“The health and safety of Ontarians and a safe food supply are top priorities,” said Carol Mitchell, minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs.

The provincial government “is pleased to provide funding to the University of Guelph to help support ongoing research activities that preserve consumer confidence, protect against animal disease and demonstrate our commitment to a competitive and sustainable agri-food industry,” she said during the opening ceremony.

University of Guelph president Alastair Summerlee said the facility puts the university at the forefront of improving the health of animals, people and the environment.

“Current and future scientists will make and share discoveries that will improve the health and well-being of animals, people and the planet,” he said. “This new building will further our ability to identify both the risks we face and the potential benefits and treatments that can be realized by taking an integrated approach to these questions.”

Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) Dean Elizabeth Stone said veterinarians are a link between animal health and human health. They have information and expertise about health relationships among humans, animals and the environment.

About 75 per cent of new and emerging diseases are transmitted from animals to humans and back again. “Animal health researchers play an important role in identifying, controlling and understanding this phenomenon,” Stone said.

The University of Guelph Animal Health Laboratory (AHL), which is housed in the new complex, helps maintain healthy animals and safe food in Ontario by providing specialized diagnostic services for OMAFRA, veterinarians and public and private sector agencies.

The new lab includes open-concept space that encourages cross-training and staff sharing. The improved facilities also allow for better control of pathogenic organisms, Stone said. “This will greatly improve our biosecurity and bio-containment, to protect both our staff and our clients.”

The new building fulfils a key component of the veterinary college’s strategic vision, as the college approaches its 150th birthday in 2012. Key initiatives include the OVC Health Sciences Centre, with its Companion Animal Medical Complex, Large Animal Medical Complex, Hill’s Pet Nutrition Primary Healthcare Centre, animal cancer centre, Equine Sports Medicine and Reproduction Centre, and large-animal isolation unit.

The facility has two main components. The pathobiology area is on the first two floors and involves research and teaching as part of the Ontario Veterinary College. The third and fourth floors of the structure are dedicated to offices and laboratories for college researchers and faculty members.

A part of the first floor is dedicated to the post-mortem suite. In that suite scientists will do diagnostic work. Testing will be carried out on specimens and samples to detect disease. Early detection of animal diseases, such as avian influenza, is crucial to prevent the spread within farm animal populations and the potential infection of people.

Following a tour of the building, Mitchell was very impressed.

She said OMAFRA and the university working together to provide laboratory services is a powerful partnership in the campaign against “the many animal diseases that can significantly impact public health and our province’s economy.”

The provincial government is committed to maintain Ontario’s reputation for safe, high-quality food and recognized that new, more modern facilities were needed.

“To really address the threat of animal disease we knew that Ontario needed new infrastructure,” she said. “So we were very pleased and very proud to support their animal health facility.”

Mitchell is confident the facility will allow faster identification of and response to disease outbreaks. The province will provide $5 million in annual funding for the lab’s diagnostic services.

Stone added: “This new building represents out commitment in bricks and mortar to the expanding role of veterinarians in the health of the province and the nation.” The new facilities will enhance Guelph’s ability to move animal and human health care forward and “to provide global leadership through research and education.”

Published in Health

Because necrotic enteritis (NE) is the most common disease among broilers, researchers are hard at work getting to know it better. In the past, NE received little research attention because the disease has long been controlled with the use of prophylactic antibiotics. However, following Europe’s lead, the use of these drugs may eventually be phased out in North America, and it’s therefore critical that other methods of effective control (such as vaccines) are developed. 

NE is caused by a bacterium called Clostridium perfringens, which produces toxins that damage gut tissues. This can affect nutrient absorption and, in some cases, lead to other gut infections. Affected flocks may see increased numbers of deaths and/or reduced performance.

It was believed that NE was caused by a toxin called alpha-toxin, produced by essentially all strains of C. perfringens. Recently, however, another toxin called NetB has been implicated by scientists in Australia. Very recently, three research groups from University of Guelph (UG), Guelph Food Research Centre of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), and University of Arizona (UA), reported their breakthrough discovery regarding the bacterium that causes NE. They’ve identified three major NE gene clusters – about 30 genes in total – the largest of which includes the gene that produces NetB.

The research is funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Food and Rural Affairs, the Poultry Industry Council, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Pfizer Animal Health. Principal investigators of the three groups are Dr. John F. Prescott (UG), Dr. Joshua Gong (AAFC), and Dr. J. Glenn Songer (formerly with UA, now with Iowa State University) who is an internationally recognized expert in clostridial research. Mr. Dion Lepp (AAFC), Dr. Bryan Roxas (UA), and Dr. Valeria R. Parreira (UG) were key players and each contributed significantly to the research. Both Dr. Prescott and Dr. Gong emphasize the importance of their international collaboration that has led to the discovery.

Two of the gene clusters are located on plasmids, which are small bits of DNA found inside bacteria that can be easily transferred from one bacterium to another. “These findings suggest that NE is caused by multiple virulence factors,” says Lepp, “and that these genes may be passed on from one C. perfringens isolate to another.”

This genetic discovery will have a significant impact on the direction of future research by influencing the thinking of researchers towards the disease and its control. “Before, people have looked for one gene or one toxin,” says Gong. “Now we all have the awareness that clusters are involved and more than one toxin.”

“It’s a major discovery,” says Prescott. “It makes us realize that the disease is far more complex than we thought it was, which is somewhat daunting, but it also means we have lots of options open to explore in terms of approaches to better control. There are lots of areas to address, lots of antigens to use, lots of genes to manipulate.”

The researchers will now embark on a journey to understand how the plasmids and their genes work together to cause the disease. They will remove the plasmids and inactivate genes one by one and see what disease effects each mutant produces when introduced into chickens. Further understanding of the function of the plasmids and genes and their roles in the disease process may lead to novel innovations for controlling NE, such as a vaccine and other control strategies to block adhesion or signalling of the pathogen. 

Control of NE strategies to replace prophylactic antibiotics is one of the research funding priorities of the Chicken Farmers of Canada, one of the founding members of the Canadian Poultry Research Council (CPRC). The CPRC, with more than a dozen other organizations, has received funding application from the Canadian Agri-Science Cluster Initiative for projects under three main themes. One of these is “enteric diseases of poultry, as impacted by reduced emphasis on the use of feed-borne antibiotics and their potential for impacting human health.” Expected outputs from this research include development of a novel vaccine and natural antimicrobials to protect birds against pathogenic Clostridia bacteria.

Published in Broilers

The chicken egg is an important and nutritious food, and egg production for human consumption is an important element of the Ontario agricultural industry. About 30 per cent of eggs that are produced are processed in breaker operations and are not consumed as shell eggs. The increasing number of table eggs that are diverted to breaker operations producing egg white and yolk is a positive development that improves efficiency and quality control for production of commercial material from the table egg. Eggshell waste (about 1.2 million kilograms of waste annually) is a byproduct of this breaker industry, for which disposal is becoming increasingly costly, and for which a value-added commercial application remains elusive. Discovery of a value-added commercial use for this eggshell waste would benefit the industry financially and promote the egg-producing industry as environmentally friendly.

Dr. Max Hincke and his research team at the University of Ottawa have been studying the use of eggshell waste as a source of antimicrobial protein for use in human health care. Part of the eggshell comprises endogenous proteins that, until now, have been identified only in egg white. Lysozyme is abundant in the shell membrane that circumscribes the egg white and forms the innermost layer of the shell membranes. It is also present in the shell membranes, and in the matrix and cuticle of the shell. Ovotransferrin is localized in the calcified mammillae and in the eggshell membrane where it acts as a bacteriostatic filter.
The research team has been working with an eggshell-specific protein called Ovocalyxin-36 (OCX-36) that is homologous to mammalian antibacterial protein families. The specific association of OCX-36 with the eggshell membranes allows its selective extraction from an industrial waste material, and the researchers are able to extract OCX-36 from eggshell membrane (determined in a previous project). Their goal here is to purify the protein and test its antimicrobial activity against a battery of gram-negative and gram-positive bacterial strains. 

Their findings? The researchers were able to purify OCX-36 from eggshell material and are working to adapt these methods to extract the product from industrial eggshell waste.  It was found that eggs from different suppliers and production lines contain about the same amount of OCX-36. Cultures of Bacillus subtilis and E. coli were found to be more sensitive than S. aureus and P. aeruginosa to the OCX-36 preparations. The researchers are interested in the stability of the OCX-36 in gastric juice and will be studying this with support from NSERC. They will also be looking at an OCX-36 gene that could be used in selection by breeders. PIC seed support was essential in order to generate the data that attracted NSERC funding for this project. The ultimate objective of this research will lead to practical uses for a waste material from the egg industry with potential medical and health-care spinoffs, which will open new markets with significant commercial potential for the poultry industry. To read more, please visit the website, www.poultryindustrycouncil.ca.

Featured Researcher


Dr. Derek M. Anderson is an active researcher in the area of monogastric nutrition. A significant focus of his research has been on poultry nutrition since his arrival at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College (NSAC) in 1982. In particular, many projects undertaken have been related to effective use of available feedstuffs for broiler chickens and heavy hen turkeys. Recently, work has been done to evaluate the best methods to use these feedstuffs in poultry feeds by ingredient combination as well as modification of feedstuffs through processing techniques. Derek serves as the Chair and Chief Executive Officer for the Atlantic Poultry Research Institute (APRI). Outreach to the regional poultry sector is maintained through the APRI.

Within the Plant & Animal Sciences Department at the NSAC, Derek teaches courses in protein nutrition and vitamin nutrition and teaches modular courses related to nutrition at the graduate program level. At the undergraduate level, courses are taught in animal nutrion, swine production and fish nutrition. In addition, six to eight undergraduate projects are supervised annually in areas of the nutrition of poultry, swine, or fish.

Evaluation of Yellow-seeded Canola Products for Poultry
Derek Anderson, Nova Scotia Agricultural College

Dr. Derek Anderson and his team at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College found that feeding full-fat canola seeds to broilers may meet increased consumer demand for choice and provide a leaner meat.

For years, soybean has been the primary source of plant protein in poultry diets, which are becoming more and more plant-based. Least-cost formulated diets are required for the poultry producer to remain competitive in the poultry industry, and using canola seed may be one way to achieve this. However, commercial canola has a lower metabolizable energy (ME) due to its high fibre content.

The development of yellow-seeded forms of canola may lead to improvements in the feeding value of canola for poultry.  These varieties of canola have lower fibre contents and higher true ME values than meals derived from brown-seeded canola.  Therefore, this promising plant needs further evaluation for use in poultry diets. 

Dr. Derek Anderson and his research team at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College have been investigating apparent ME in various canola products, the effects of various canola products on growth performance and carcass composition of broiler chickens, and the effects of yellow seeded canola on growth performance and carcass composition of heavy hen turkeys.

Their findings? Carcasses from broilers fed black full-fat seeds and yellow full-fat seeds had significantly lower levels of crude fat and higher levels of crude protein than birds fed a control diet. Contrary to results from the broiler trial, dietary treatment did not affect the crude fat and crude protein contents of the turkey carcasses at 70 days of age, indicating that there may be a species difference for how the canola seeds affect lipogenesis (fat breakdown). 

For the broiler industry, feeding certain full-fat canola seeds may help to meet the increased consumer demand for choice in poultry meat based on what the birds are fed, and provide a leaner meat.  To read more, please visit the website,

PIC 's Picks
By Tim Nelson, Executive Director

The summer was busy for the PIC. During the summer months the PIC has have been organizing the Growing Forward Cost Share workshops for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). Those of you who have attended one of these workshops will undoubtedly agree that the workshop is a pretty painless way to learn how to obtain some useful funds from the government to enhance your biosecurity. More than 120 producers have taken advantage of this and there are more workshops coming in the new year – don’t miss this educational opportunity.

We recently completed a very comprehensive brochure/magazine called Research Outcomes – 2010 Updates. It features all of the research that the industry has invested in since 2003 and is up to date. You’ll also find a copy of this magazine on our website www.poultryindustrycouncil.ca, where you can find the full reports for any of the featured work at the “click” of a button.

The magazine is laid out to allow you to read the work in the subject areas you’re interested in. We’d like your feedback on this publication – and if you haven’t got one by the time you read this, please contact the PIC – it’s essential reading!

We also had the golf tournament, which, despite the atrocious weather was enjoyed by all. Thanks to all of you who braved the day and made it a success – you helped us raise a tad over $14,000 for our research efforts. We promise better weather next year. This year, once again, we also raised about $4,000 for research through Mulligan Sales at all of the industry tournaments, so, again, thanks to those of you who gave so generously.

Don’t forget the Poultry Innovations Conference (Nov. 11 and 12 – see advertisements in last month’s Canadian Poultry for details) and keep a lookout for news of Producer Updates in your area in early 2011. Book early for everything – it saves you money!
Published in Nutrition and Feed

March 15, 2010, Champaign, IL – “We use everything but the cackle” is an old adage that nicely captures the poultry industry’s approach to the efficient use of byproducts. That same attitude, according to the Poultry Science Association (PSA), is helping to drive recent work in converting recovered fat from poultry wastewater streams into an economically viable alternative fuel source for processors.

Participating in the effort is Dr. Brian Kiepper, Ph.D., an assistant professor and extension poultry scientist in the University of Georgia’s departments of poultry science and biological and agricultural engineering. 

“Our focus has been on isolating fat from wastewater broiler processing facilities and then seeking the means to provide the integrator with the option of using the recovered fat, on-site, in whatever way yields the highest value,” said Dr. Kiepper. 

One of those options is to use the recovered fat as a biofuel. 

Waste fat, oil and grease (FOG) are major components of many food-processing wastewater streams, including poultry production. According to Dr. Kiepper, recaptured fat can be purified and then burned to heat water in a processing plant’s boilers. It can also be used to make biodiesel – an attractive option to have available, particularly when petroleum-based fuel prices are high.

Such uses can be very attractive economically for the processor, particularly when compared to the traditional means of disposing of offal by selling it to rendering facilities at approximately $0.03/lb, a rate which values the fat at $0.22/gal. By comparison, once purified, fat recaptured from food processing wastewater can be used instead of fuel oil, which is currently priced at around $2.00/gal, to fire a plant’s boilers. Dr. Kiepper estimates that recovering only 10% (a conservative number) of the 44.6 million gallons of fat produced in the state of Georgia each year by this method would result in an estimated annual savings of nearly $9 million on fuel-oil purchases.

Best Sources for FOG Extraction in a Processing Facility

In a recent study led by Dr. Kiepper, he and fellow researchers evaluated five poultry waste streams as potential sources of alternative fuel: float fat after primary screens, secondary screen offal, tertiary screen offal, chemical and non-chemical DAF (dissolved air flotation) skimmings. Of the five, float fat and secondary screen offal were shown to have the greatest potential for further refinement and use as biofuel, given their relative ease of extraction and recovery efficiency.

Because secondary screen offal is already collected and (often inefficiently) belt- or screw-conveyed to offal trucks, modifying the collection system to divert the offal to a FOG extraction-and-purification system should, according to the researchers, be readily feasible. On the other hand, because float fat is harder to collect because of its tendency to gather in equalization pits and transfer troughs, accommodating float-fat collection for alternative fuels processing would likely require new systems to be installed in most facilities.

“Our ultimate goal,” said Dr. Kiepper, “is to develop a self-contained, low-temperature fat extraction and purification system that can be installed on-site at food processing plants to produce, in an economically feasible way, a usable quantity of fuel-quality fat for processors. This will generate greater benefits for processors by recovering more of the valuable byproducts generated during processing that are now lost in the wastewater stream. It also has the potential to create a very green loop in the processing environment, with fat gathered from birds processed in the morning possibly being used to heat the plant’s boilers during processing that same afternoon.”

Said PSA President Dr. Sally Noll: “Dr. Kiepper’s work may help an already efficient industry do an even better job of lowering processing costs by creating new value-added products from the existing byproducts stream.”

Published in New Technology

By any standards, there’s a lot less activity in Poultry Research and Education than was apparent twenty years ago. Obvious examples are the closing, in 1997, of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Centre for Food and Animal Research in Ottawa, and the progressive disappearance over two decades, of separate Departments of Poultry Science in several Universities. The federal presence in research with a specific poultry focus is now limited to one scientist working at the Agassiz station in BC. A few others work with birds from time to time, and this is also true in the university environment, but many commercial poultry producers would be hard pressed to identify a scientist they could consult on contemporary industry problems.

The Study

Two years ago, the Canada Branch of the World’s Poultry Science Association initiated a process to identify the resources available and the needs of science and industry for the next decade. This program was led by Dr. Roger Buckland of MacDonald College, McGill University. Buckland is a longtime poultry researcher, and former Dean of the College’s Agriculture Faculty.

Surveys were designed to identify all people involved in Poultry Research, Education and Technology Transfer, and to solicit from them their opinions as to the adequacy, or otherwise, of the available resources and output.

Of particular interest was the survey of industrial “users” of poultry science and technology: Do they have an adequate pool of expertise, and are people entering the industry adequately trained?

The results of the survey were presented and reviewed at a workshop held in Ottawa in November, and attended by more than sixty interested participants.

Workshop of Sponsors

- Canadian Agri-Food Research Council

- World’s Poultry Science Association, Canada Branch

- Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

- Confederation of Canadian Faculties of Agriculture and Veterinarian Medicine

- Egg and Poultry Producers of Canada

- Poultry Industry Council for Research and Education

Technology Transfer

Dr. Bill Stevens from Guelph, Ont., gave the supplier perspective, and Dave Coburn, a producer from New Brunswick dealt with tech. transfer as a user. Stevens has been involved with another study, commissioned by the Poultry Industry Council, into the specific capability of the University of Guelph in the context of Ontario’s poultry industry, and he presented his results to the workshop. He spoke of the “Technology Train” consisting of basic research, leading to applied research, followed by technology transfer and commercial application.

Basic research is largely devoted to advancing scientific knowledge with little immediate direct application. It is funded largely by federal bodies such as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and provincial governments (OMAFRA in Ontario.)

Applied research is also funded by these groups but industry contributes in specific areas where immediate benefits in terms of practical knowledge are visible. Technology transfer is often aided by provincial governments but is also targeted by industry in terms of competitive advantage.

Commercial application has resulted in enormous gains in productivity over the past half-century, plus gains in efficiency and competitiveness.  More recently, gains in quality assurance and food safety have resulted from the application of research.

Dave Coburn has enthusiastically embraced new technology in the past two decades, including a computerized layer barn, rapid composting of poultry waste and a state-of-the-art feed mill.

However, Coburn noted the decline in poultry research capacity in the past decade, particularly at the federal level, where expenditures of several million dollars shrunk to $768,000, with just one scientist dedicated to full time poultry research.

Now Is The Time To Rebuild

Coburn commented on lack of inter-University communication, as a serious problem, plus the apparent decline in tech. transfer resources.  He said there is increased reliance on US data when Canadian data are lacking.  Where provincial sources had disappeared, Coburn looked for the emergence of other vehicles for Tech. Transfer, including the Internet and a possible Virtual Poultry Department for Canada, one of the suggestions made by Roger Buckland in his questionnaire

Research Resources

Dr. Frank Robinson, of the University of Alberta, reviewed the results of Buckland’s survey of research resources. He said he found some poultry research in fifteen different institutions.

However, this is somewhat deceptive, because only nine showed one or more person-years of combined research, teaching and extension activity. Only in the Universities of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Guelph and McGill, were there more than four person-years. It was also emphasized that with the exception of Guelph, the majority of the positions were non-tenure, indicating potential lack of continuity if “soft” money is not renewed.

In terms of area of interest, most energy is devoted to nutrition (almost 10 person-years), with genetics and breeding (3.3), disease and pathology (3.6) some distance behind. Poultry production (2.8), physiology and biochemistry (2.7) and poultry meat science (1.3) were the only remaining fields with more than one person-year allocated. When one considers that this effort is spread across the entire country, the extent of Canada’s challenge in poultry science becomes clear.

The survey also reviewed the capacity for research in terms of facilities, and here the situation seems more favourable, with good facilities available for broiler and layer research available in several locations.

Fewer facilities are available for turkeys and broiler breeders, but these species still receive considerable research attention in relation to the size of the respective industries.

Imbalances seem to occur, however; University of Laval has capacity for over 2000 turkeys, yet none were used in the period under discussion.

A review of funding sources showed that slightly more than half came from industry with the balance from other grants. It is assumed that this funding does not include the provision of the infrastructure such as laboratories and animal facilities.

Robert Gauthier of Jefo Animal Health and Nutrition gave the perspective of the research user.

He painted a bleak picture of poor communication of results, inadequate funding compared with other animal species, and lack of coordination in priority setting and resource utilization.

Gauthier offered as solutions, the following:

- Definition of resources, priorities and research policies;

- Concentrate research among two or three solid institutions within Canada;

- Increase public and private (permanent) funding;

- Coordinate and integrate public and private research;

- Avoid spending private research dollars on administrative overhead;

In subsequent discussion of this presentation, Martin Pelletier, of the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council, suggested at least one tool already exists for better communication and coordination of research. This is the Index of Canadian Agricultural Research (ICAR), which has recently been updated and is available on-line. From this database, researchers can rapidly extract very specific categories of current research. All scientists were urged to list their current projects on the Index.


Dr. Steve Leeson, University of Guelph, gave the “supplier” perspective on teaching and education in the field of poultry science. Some university agricultural science programs, including those at Guelph, no longer include “production type” courses.  Teaching capability is much reduced compared with two decades ago. However, poultry species are used as examples in course work on scientific disciplines such as nutrition, genetics, physiology, etc.

Leeson, while acknowledging their need, questioned whether production courses were necessary at all institutions. A “Virtual Poultry Science Department” had been proposed in Dr. Buckland’s survey and received widespread support. Dr. Leeson suggested this may be a method of presenting production courses to students at a variety of institutions. He also suggested the same method for presenting industry to students. He has experienced great difficulty in getting access to commercial hatcheries, processing plants etc. because of biosecurity and other concerns.

Ted Bailey, from Landmark Feeds in Manitoba, gave the user perspective on poultry education.

His company employs a number of university-trained graduates in extension and administrative roles, and is probably typical of many organizations across the country. He underlined the need to inspire an interest in poultry early in students’ academic careers, and noted that success in this area is highly dependent on individual professors’ ability to spark that interest.

Bailey pointed to the Midwest Poultry Consortium, in the US, which had built up a system over the past decade embracing a number of universities which now cooperate in recruiting students and providing poultry production courses. Industry has spearheaded this initiative and supports it financially, as well as providing scholarship and internship opportunities for students.

This presentation further emphasized the need for active encouragement of students to enter the poultry field and then the provision of introductory and advanced courses to stimulate continued involvement pointing to an attractive career path.

While the use of the “Virtual Department” concept could contribute to these ideals, there would still be the need for the “evangelical professor” to get the process started with motivated students.

There is no doubt that these individuals are highly successful where they are active.


The delegates were assigned to one of five working groups to discuss these presentations in depth, and report back to a general session at the end of the day.

During these discussions, the potential role of the Poultry Industry Council for research and education was highlighted. Because it is an industry-funded group, the council is well placed to undertake some of the work of coordination, priority setting, and allocation of research funding.

It may also be in a position to initiate the so-called “Virtual Poultry Science Department,” whose major role might initially be the development of production-type undergraduate courses to meet the expressed needs of industry in the next decade.

Dave Nodwell, recently appointed Executive Director of the PIC, attended the workshop and participated in the discussions. He believes the PIC will rise to the challenge and become Canada’s voice in poultry research and education.

The conclusions of the discussion groups are being summarized and a complete report of the meeting is being developed by Dr. Buckland. Industry and the university community will then be expected to act on these findings to carry Canada’s poultry industry successfully into the future.

Published in Research

The emergence of antibiotic resistance among bacterial pathogens has become one of the most challenging crises to face public health authorities in the past century, said Rebecca Irwin DVM, MSc. Irwin is the food program coordinator for the Antimicrobial Resistance Project at Health Canada, and spoke as part of a panel at the Poultry Health Conference in Kitchener.

Many human pathogens are demonstrating resistance to antibiotics. The challenge now is to understand more fully why it has happened, to stop the trend and to find out how to prevent future development of resistance.

And that is why, rightly according to some researchers and wrongly according to others, part of the focus has fallen on the livestock industry and its use of antibiotics.

Dr. Maurice Smith, a veterinarian and a second panel member, said the poultry industry has been wrongly accused.

In his presentation, Smith displayed a recent headline and said it is incorrect. The implication is that if antibiotic use in the livestock industry stopped then things would be better. “This is a fallacy,” he said. Antibiotic use in the poultry industry is low and dropping, he stated.

He also pointed to numerous examples of situations where resistant strains of bacteria have appeared in countries where those antibiotics are not used in the livestock industry.

“We are a prudent industry,” he said. He stressed that the poultry industry seldom uses antibiotics and only does so when it has to. And he said that they are used properly.

Layers Rarely Get Antibiotics

Most egg producing flocks have never been given antibiotics and while turkey flocks receive antibiotics at hatching, many weeks pass before processing when no drugs are used. Meanwhile, the broiler industry has achieved a seven per cent reduction in antibiotic use in the last five years because birds reach market weight half-a-day to one day earlier and as a result consume less medicated feed.

He also pointed out that there are a lot of unknowns surrounding the issue.

Irwin said some bacteria have developed the ability to survive in the presence of antibiotics by mutating and changing their genetic make-up. There are now multi-resistant foodborne bacteria, she said.

“It is now recognized that the genes which are responsible for the resistance can move between and among bacteria of the same or even different species,” she said.

However, it is important to recognize that antibiotics are vital medicines for the treatment of bacterial infections in animals as well as humans, she said.

They are important for sustainable livestock production and for the control of animal infections that could be passed on to humans.

It is also recognized that the use of antibiotics in livestock, fish and plant production varies from country to country. In some countries their use is lower than in others and the use of specific antibiotics in livestock production is banned in some countries but not others.

Some countries report that more than 50 per cent of their total output of antimicrobial compounds is used in agriculture. “Most are applied to food animals in subtherapeutic doses as growth promoters.”

But many other countries have restricted the use of antibiotics useful in human therapeutics from use in growth promotion, she said.

Worldwide Concern

Meanwhile concern over antimicrobial resistance is worldwide and the World Health Organization (WHO) has convened two meetings in the past year to develop recommendations on the use of antimicrobials in food production.

The WHO is supporting the development of guidelines which promote the “usage of antimicrobials which maximizes therapeutic effects and minimizes the development of antimicrobial resistance,” she said.

The WHO has also recommended that the use of any antimicrobial agent for growth promotion in animals should be terminated if it is used in human therapeutics or known to select for cross-resistance to antimicrobials used in human medicine.

In Canada, Health Canada’s Food Directorate is taking a lead role in the development of strategies to control the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance from agriculture and food sources.

In June, Health Canada sponsored a stakeholder workshop to provide a forum for discussion of topics related to prudent use, surveillance and research. Next, Health Canada will form a steering committee made up of representatives from government (federal and provincial), industry, public health consumers, diagnostic laboratories and academia.

“There is a critical need to provide the scientific information which characterizes the link between antimicrobial use in animals and resistance in humans and to answer questions on how resistance may be transferred to humans via food or environmental exposures. Increased collaboration and linkage of industry and government studies will enhance our ability to answer some of these complex questions,” she said.  

Dr. Bruce Kilmer, of the Canadian Animal Health Institute (a trade association representing the developers and distributors of pharmaceuticals, feed additives, biologicals and pesticides), said each new microbial is reviewed by Health Canada’s veterinary drug program to ensure it doesn’t pose a risk to human or animal safety, does as the label claims, and is manufactured under good manufacturing conditions.

12 Years To Develop

It takes 10-to-12 years to bring a new food animal product from discovery to the marketplace at a cost of about $250 million, he said.

Antibiotics are used in agriculture to: assure safe and wholesome food from healthy animals; reduce human exposure to zoonotic pathogens through direct contact with animals; promote the health and well being of animals; and reduce the cost of food production.

Antibiotic use also keeps the cost of food down. A 1998 National Academy of Sciences study estimated that banning the use of antibiotics in production would raise poultry, beef and fish costs to the public by $4.85 to $9.72 per person per year.

There is also a public misunderstanding between resistance and susceptibility. Resistance means the bacteria no longer responds to  treatment with antimicrobials while susceptibility refers to the sensitivity of the bacteria to treatment with an antimicrobial.

“Generally references to resistance in the popular press really refer to the fact that the bacteria is less susceptible to an antimicrobial,” he said.

Benefits Of Use Being Studied

The industry is taking a number of steps to address concerns. It has prudent use guidelines and Georgetown University is conducting a study, “Risk Benefit Analysis of Antibiotic Use in Food Producing Animals.”

The study is evaluating:

  • the risk of treatment failure of human infections due to foodborne zoonotic pathogens;
  • the benefit of reduced incidence of human infections due to foodborne zoonotic pathogens;
  • the benefit to the environment and;
  • the benefit to the economy.

Quality Assurance Programs

Meanwhile, producer groups are developing quality assurance programs and proper use of medication is an important  component.

Challenges facing the industry include: meeting World Health Organization calls to tighten up regulations so that Active

Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) are not used in food-animal production; and providing timely access to safe new products.

To answer the WHO’s call, Canada needs to implement new legislation to prohibit the use of API’s and to ensure access to new products Canada must resolve operational and personnel problems at Health Canada’s veterinary drug approval program and deal with the growing lag time in the registration of new products, he said.

The bottom line in the discussion is that decisions must be based on sound science, he stated.


Published in Research
A major gap in the livestock disease research chain is being filled by a group of veterinary scientists here.

Dedicated to finding practical solutions that producers can use to fight common infectious diseases that still plague food-producing animals, the Veterinary Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) was formed to bridge between basic science and its application on the farm.

VIDO's objective is the control of common infectious diseases through preventative measures, drugs and management techniques that producers can readily use on their farms. High on the list of disorders to tackle are scours, mastitis, pneumonias, shipping fever and coccidiosis.

Founded in 1975, after a thorough investigation through the Science Council of Canada, VIDO is located on the University of Saskatchewan campus. This allows scientists access to the support facilities of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and other agricultural and medical research units. Financially, VIDO is independent of the University of Saskatchewan.

A new $4.25 million laboratory and a unique isolation building will be functioning early next year. These are already paid for through grants received from four major donors: Devonian Group of Charitable Foundations, University of Saskatchewan, and Alberta and Saskatchewan provincial governments.

The first major project of VIDO is the study of scours in calves and pigs for the next 3 to 5 years, according to the director, Dr. Chris Bigland.

"Scours cost Canada's beef and dairy industry over $74 million in 1974. That's $8.67 for each calf born alive and that's why we started with scours," said Bigland. "Results of the disease can be devastating to both hog and cattle producers."

VIDO researchers are already making progress in their investigation of scours by using both actual farm conditions and sophisticated laboratory equipment.

Dr. Steve Acres, a research associate is experimenting with management control techniques and also field testing a new vaccine. He is preparing a detailed report of his findings for release early in 1978.

Dr. Bob Worthington, a visiting scientist from South Africa has had encouraging results from his experiments to produce a toxin vaccine to control the many strains of E. coli bacteria that cause diarrhea in animals.

Dr. Bigland emphasized the importance of producer input to VIDO's research plans. "We're sensitive to producer needs and we'll respond to them. It doesn't matter if it's the poultry, cattle, swine or sheep industry that has a problem. We want to tackle the common diseases that other organizations seem to be ignoring."

"VIDO has charted a 10 year research plan and the next major disease we'll study is the pneumonia complex, if our agricultural economist pinpoints it as the most costly disease after scours," he said.

Seven and a Half Million For Next 5 Years

To carry on this unique type of practical research, Bigland stressed the need for long term funding. "Our goal is to raise $7.5 million for the next 5 years of operation," he said.

He explained that VIDO hoped to raise $2.5 million from the Canadian government, $2.5 million from contract research grants, livestock association check-offs and private donations.

"VIDO is a national livestock research facility and the work we do will benefit all Canadians," he said. "That's the reason we're asking for support from all levels of government."

"If the livestock associations give us their backing, we can get some of our funding from governments," he pointed out. "But first governments want to see moral and financial support from the producers."

Dr. Bigland suggested that livestock producers could obtain more detailed information about VIDO by contacting him at the VIDO trailers in care of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

"VIDO represents a practical, down-to-earth way t beat the common infectious diseases that have cost our livestock producers so much money for so many years," he concluded.
Published in Research

What do we want to find in "tomorrow's egg"? Let us examine the egg part by part and set some goals for the future; and then let's see if we have any hope of accomplishing those goals.

First there is the shape of the egg to consider. Tomorrow's egg does not need to have a different shape than today's egg but it would certainly help a lot to have al of tomorrow's eggs uniformly shaped alike.

Uniform egg shape would make it possible to tailor our crates, case and cartons to do a better job of protecting the eggs from breaking. That would be the biggest economic reason for wanting uniform egg shape in tomorrow's egg. I also think the consumer would find packages of eggs with uniform shape more attractive and maybe buy a few more.

Something else to consider is the mechanization of the poultry and egg industry. More and more operations of handling eggs are being done mechanically. Any designer of egg handling equipment will tell you that his machine will work better for "normally" shaped eggs than for others. The producer can do himself and the handler of eggs a considerable service by making tomorrow's eggs uniform in shape.

What sort of shell would we like to have on tomorrow's eggs? What about shell colour? We all know that colour of the shell has nothing to do with the quality inside, so I think that we shouldn't worry too much about shell colour. I would like to see tomorrow's uniform colour in each carton. I believe we can merchandise eggs of one colour almost as easily as eggs of another colour.

Uniformity of shell colour, and shape, too, as mentioned before, make a more attractive pack. These are two of the things that can make it easier to sell the product. In my opinion the egg packer has more responsibility in doing something about shell colour than the producer. Producers should remember, though, that the fewer colours of shell that the packer gets, the easier his job will be.

Need Stronger Shells

The main things we expect the shell to do are to carry the contents of the eggs until we're ready to use them and to protect the contents from evaporation and contamination. Tomorrow's egg ought to have a strong shell whether it is laid in April or August and it should be more resistant to evaporation. We're very lucky that eggs have shells on them. Many foods aren't that well protected by nature.

In shell eggs today we pin most of our quality ratings on the albumen, the thick albumen to be more specific. We do that because we think that an egg with lots of thick "up-standing" white is what the consumer wants. If we're right, and I think we are, then tomorrow's egg ought to have more and thicker albumen that will keep its high quality longer.

What about yolk colour? The consumer surveys that have been made in the last few years indicate that consumers in general don't prefer any one yolk colour over another. They may draw the line at extremely dark or extremely light yolks, but that leaves a pretty big range of colour that doesn't seem to worry them too much. Here again, I'm going to fall back on that word "uniformity."

We want uniformity in almost everything, particularly food. If the last hot dog you ate tasted especially good you'd like the next one to taste just like it. If your last suit wore like iron, you want your next one to do that, too. I believe the consumer would be happy with almost any yolk colour within reasonable limits if all yolks were about the same colour.

Next time you have two eggs sunny side up for breakfast, take a look at the yolks. If one is darker than the other, I'll bet you expect one of them to taste better. You may think you'll like the dark one or you may think you'll like the light one. It doesn't matter which – the important thing is that if there is a lack of uniformity, you will usually think that one is going to be better than the other. We could prevent this sort of consumer confusion by giving them uniform yolk colour.

The yolk of tomorrow's egg won't have any defects on it such as mottling or other areas that appear abnormal. There won't be any blood and meat spots in tomorrow's egg either. I don't need to dwell on these points. We wish today's eggs didn't have these defects but they do sometimes so we will make if out goal to completely eliminate them from tomorrow's eggs.

One more thing that tomorrow's egg can have that will make it even more desirable, and that is increased nutritive value. The egg is almost without peer in nutritive value now. If it can be improved in nutritive value so much the better.

The Practical Approach

These are some pretty lofty goals. Let's be practical – what are the possibilities that we can reach those goals? I think we can reach all of them. Some will take longer than others, but none of them are impossible.

Take shell colour, for example. We have been working with instruments in U.S.D.A. laboratories that could be developed into machines for automatically segregating eggs by the colour of their shells. When the egg industry feels that it will be profitable for them to pack eggs for uniformity of shell color, I have no doubt that it can be done mechanically.

I also mentioned uniformity of egg shape. It has been demonstrated many times that egg shape is inherited. When we decide what egg shape we want, poultry breeders can produce birds that will lay that shape.

Yolk colour is predominately influenced by feed, and controlling the amount of pigment in the feed controls yolk colour. But that may not be the whole story. There is some research going on at Beltsville indicating that yolk colour may be partly controlled by inheritance. This work hasn't been going on very long yet, but it is beginning to look as though we might have some breeding as well as feeding control over yolk colour.

It has been known for 20 years or so that egg shell quality is influenced by heredity. We also know that feeding the proper balance and amount of minerals is important in getting good shells. What are the possibilities of getting eggs with superior shell strength and low evaporation rate?

Several years ago the U.S.D.A. researchers reported on breeding for egg shell quality by using the weight loss of the egg in the incubator. They found that it was possible to develop a good shell quality line and a poor shell quality line, showing that the ability produce good shell is inherited. They also found that the shells of the eggs with the low weight loss were the strongest. This work indicates that it is possible through breeding, accompanied by proper feeding, to put a shell around tomorrow's eggs that is stronger and allows less evaporation.

Can Reach Goal

Can we reach our goals of albumen quality? We want a high percentage of thick white that stands up well when first laid and deteriorates slowly. It has been shown that, through breeding, birds can be developed that will lay eggs which deteriorate more slowly than ordinary. This work is not yet completed but it points the way to one more of the things we want in tomorrow's egg.

On the subject of blood and meat spots and mottled yolks there isn't anything new to report. You've been told many times that though breeding they can be eliminated almost entirely. I think elimination of blood and meat spots ought to be the first of our goals for tomorrow's egg that we try to reach – and the sooner the better.

The vitamin content of the yolk of an egg is influenced by the feed of the bird. Tomorrow's egg can be made nutritious by feeding for higher vitamin content.

Where are we right now in all of this? What is the quality of today's egg? The truth of the matter is we don't know. A lot has been learned about where quality losses occur during marketing and a lot has been learned about preserving egg quality by processing and by cold storage. A lot has also been learned about breeding for egg quality. We need to know more about all of these. But the one thing we haven't looked at in any detail at all yet is the quality of eggs as they are laid.

Last spring and summer a program got under way to do something about it. Associated Poultry and Egg Industries has adopted the program. It is call the I.Q. (Interior Quality) Programme. The first thing to be done is to find out the level of quality being produced. To do that, observations on the interior quality of newly laid eggs are going to be taken in some of the egg laying contests. That will go a long way toward telling us what sort of egg quality today's laying stock produces.

When we get the needed information about today's egg we will know better how far we have to go to produce tomorrow's egg. Let me summarize very briefly. Tomorrow's egg should have:

  • Uniform shape,
  • Uniform shell colour in any one carton,
  • Greater shell strength,
  • Less evaporation from the egg,
  • A high percentage of thick white,
  • A thick white that stands up high and deteriorates slowly,
  • Uniform yolk colour,
  • Freedom from blood and meat spots and mottled yolks, and
  • Higher nutritive value.

These goals can all be reached. They will be reached, of course, only when such eggs are more profitable to those who produce them. Obviously then, no one segment of the poultry industry can be asked to carry the ball alone. Improved egg quality at the production level must be accompanied by improved marketing and handling of eggs. At the same time, improved merchandising will have to provide the economic encouragement needed to keep an egg quality improvement programme on the move.

Published in Research

Fashions don't necessarily change every year with chickens, that is, with the feathered kind. However, they are now changing rapidly in modern poultry raising.

Whereas standard type and colour have obsessed the fancier and exhibition breeder of the past, quantity egg and meat production are the dominant objectives of the commercial poultryman in 1951. While the first quarter of the century was marked by remarkable gains in egg production, the second quarter, recently concluded, has witnessed the consolidation of these gains in breeding flocks and the dissemination of better blood lines throughout the flocks of the world.

The magnitude of these gains in total production may be appreciated when it is realized that, as the statisticians tell us, the average hen lays 50 more eggs now than she did 50 years ago. Multiply this increase by the number of hens (500,000,000) on this continent, and we can only try to imagine he astonishing increase of 24 billion eggs that are available for human consumption in one year. In Canada alone, this increase amounts to about 2 billion eggs per annum, worth $60,000,000. To take care of this, the annual per capita consumption of eggs has increased from around 200 to 390 eggs in the United States – more than an egg a day – the highest in the world, and 300 eggs in Canada.

It is remarkable that, while such progress was being made in the production and consumption of eggs, the production and marketing of poultry meats had just dragged along as incidental to egg production. Poultry meats, in other words, have been largely represented by surplus birds not kept for egg production, and in many cases, have been poor meat type and quality. Within the past few years, it has been realized that not only the production but the marketing of poultry meats have been grossly neglected. In one branch alone, viz., broiler production, a startling change has taken place, one that promises to revolutionize chicken-meat production if it has not already done so. No longer is the light, skinny, bony broiler of 7 to 9 weeks fashionable.

Instead, great numbers of thick-meated and tender "baby beef" chickens are being produced, weighing 3 to 4 lb. or better at 12 weeks – 50 per cent more than the old-fashioned chicken. These frying chickens are being turned out by mass production methods in one to ten thousand lots or more, in big roomy pens, where they may be crowded but remain healthy as they are nourished by modern efficient rations. Such birds, moreover, grow so quickly into delicious tender meat that chicken-meat now competes in both quality and price with all other meats to be found on the market.

These modern chickens have to be early and full feathering, uniformly rapid growing, vigorous, plump-breasted, with maximum edible meat and minimum waste, to meet market requirements. In other words, they must be "prime" when very young. If the birds are kept to the heavier roaster or capon stage, they must be capable, moreover, of maintaining heavy weights desired. To make good roasters, they must also be completely feathered and comparatively free of pin-feathers when prime.

It was indicated some years ago, in the annual reports of poultry meat inspection of the Dominion Markets Branch, that the better grades were decidedly in the minority, and that there was urgent need for a breeding and selection program that would include not only the maintenance of egg production but extra pressure of selection for improved meat type in the breeding stock of this country.

Breeding research at the University of B.C.

There are two schools of thought as to the methods of breeding better meat types of chicken. One is to use out-crosses of the extremely broad-breasted low-set Cornish – an extreme type of meat game produced by fanciers – to such well-known utility breeds as the New Hampshire, Rhode Island Red, or Plymouth Rock, and to breed back to the latter breeds until a type is more or less fixed. Some remarkably fine meat strains have evolved from these and other crosses in the past three years, as they have proved in the famous "Chicken of Tomorrow" contests that have brought so much publicity to the broiler business in the United States. In order to provide certification for R.O.P. in meat production, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is inspecting random sample progeny tests from matings entered by private breeders this year.

Another approach to the problem of improving meat type in poultry is through certification of meat characteristics as well as egg production in flocks already entered in R.O.P. This would merely involve further extension of existing inspection in Canadian R.O.P. to cover such economic factors as rate of growth in addition to early feathering and meat type as included at present.

Selection for market qualities

Under R.O.P. regulations, selection for improved meat type and better feathering has been continuous in University of British Columbia flocks of Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds since 1935. No significant correlation was found to exist between meat type and egg production in these strains, thus simplifying the dual purpose objective in breeding and selection. Little was known in the earlier stages about the mode of inheritance of various feathering characteristics in these two breeds, except that slow feathering appeared to be dominant to early fast feathering. The inheritance of full feathering was not fully understood although the Leghorns possessed the quality.

At first selection consisted largely of discarding the slowest feathering types and the sharper breasted, angular meat specimens, and including only the better feathering, plumper breasted birds in the breeding pens. Arbitrary classifications were used to distinguish various grades. Observations were made of feathering, and weights taken at ages of 6 weeks in chicks and at regular intervals until maturity. Families were marked according to grading of offspring and undesirable ones eliminated. The U.B.C. strain of Reds is now pure for early fast feathering, but lacks the full feathering of the White Leghorn or certain strains of New Hampshires. Recent studies indicate that a bareback factor and slow feathering in the neck, hackle, and tail may be factors inhibiting full feathering in birds pure for the early feathering gene.

The popularity of the Barred Plymouth Rock as a table bird had until recent years become almost proverbial on general farms in Canada. While its position has recently been challenged by the New Hampshire and to a lesser degree by the White Rock and Light Sussex, the Barred Rock has earned its prestige in the trade for its feeding and fattening qualities and ability to finish well as a roasting chicken or a heavy, fat fowl. In these forms its fleshing is unsurpassed. The Barred Rock, however, has not been so suitable for broiler or fryer production because of some slow-feathering characteristics and lack of uniformity in many strains.

Autosexing breeds

In order to utilize the desirable qualities of both the Barred Rock and Red, including the autosexing colour pattern of the former, a crossing project was undertaken to fix the white barring factor in the early fast-feathering Reds. By first crossing a Barred Rock male to Red females and back crossing to Red, and then to Barred Reds in succeeding generations, pure Barred Reds (autosexing Redbars) were produced. They were superior in meat type, and tested 96.3 per cent accurate in autosexing. Meanwhile the U.B.C. strain of New Hampshires was giving good performance in eggs and meat production and hatchability. Moreover, although a newer breed, they excelled in viability, showing the greatest resistance to disease, including the paralysis complex. Lacking only the barring characteristics for autosexing purposes, a Barred New Hampshire (Hampbar) bred after the fashion of the Barred Red (Redbar) became a promising prospect. Time was saved in fixing the colour pattern of the breed by using Redbar males for crossing with specially selected New Hampshire females. Results ere so favorable in production and apparent vigor of early generations as to suggest greater emphasis being placed upon the development of this new autosexing breed. Accordingly a plan for improvement by crossing both ways by males and females to New Hampshires was extended last year. As time goes on, this technique of breeding improvement may be carried on with this autosexing breed, thus offering a very broad scope for utilizing good blood lines in New Hampshires for improvement of the Hampbars. Satisfactory egg production was secured in R.O.P. last year, while the larger entry appears still more promising this year.

The current shortage in supplies of heavy roasting chickens and fowl in Canada, and the comparatively firm prices of same, no doubt will encourage increased production. However, high feed prices require maturity or finish for market at earlier ages. It will therefore be earlier feathering, earlier maturing and faster growing strains of poultry that can provide material for profitable production. The New Hampshires have been setting the pace and are now being improved in meat type, reduction in broodiness, and persistence in production. The Hampbars have the advantages of autosexing and lighter pin feathers in the dressed carcass. The Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds are also being brought up to higher utility standards of meat as well as egg production to serve modern needs in the industry.

Much attention is also being given to the remarkable advances made very recently in the efficiency of broiler rations. Elaborate tests are being conducted, in U.B.C. nutrition laboratories, of A.P.F.*, antibiotics, amino acids, and other supplements or ingredients that stimulate rapid early growth in chickens. With better bred stream-lined chickens, nourished by better feeds, poultry meat production is gaining rapidly on egg production in economic importance.

Recent records made in the production of broilers and fryers in some areas have been truly sensational, adding many millions of dollars to returns from broiler production constitute as much as 80 per cent of the value of all agricultural products. While the accent seems to be on youth in the form of the young tender chicken, there is a great need, too, for increased production of big roasters and capons. More people really want to eat more chicken if the industry will only provide the right kind and quality.

*Animal Protein Factor

Published in Technology

Because of inheritance, some birds lay eggs with poor shells regardless of how well they are fed. Even so, no bird can be expected to form shells of the quality she is capable of unless the feed she eats furnishes the materials necessary for maximum shell formation. Environment, diseases and physiological changes in the birds themselves also affect the strength of shells produced.

Our present knowledge of feeding indicates that there are four nutrients of prime necessity in the ration in the proper amounts for maximum shell formation. These four nutrients are calcium, phosphorus, manganese, and vitamin D.

Nearly 95% of the egg shell is calcium carbonate. The hen depends on two different sources of calcium for the formation of her egg shells. These are which is available in her daily ration; and that which is present in her bones, which she is capable of drawing upon for use in shell formation. Both sources of calcium enter into the shell of each egg produced.

Normally, if enough calcium is provided in the ration, calcium will be deposited in the bones in quantities sufficient to balance that withdrawn from the bones for shell formation. If insufficient calcium is provided in the bird's ration for normal shell formulation, she will continue to withdraw calcium from her bones until she is depleted as much as about 50% of her entire skeletal reserve.

Even though birds will draw on bone calcium for shell formation, if the ration does not supply their needs they will not withdraw sufficient to maintain shell quality. Birds fed rations containing too little calcium will produce shells, which become thinner and thinner. However, the shells will not become thinner to the point of shell-less eggs being produced. A lack of calcium in the ration will cause production to stop entirely before shell-less eggs will be produced.

Shell-less eggs or so-called "soft-shelled eggs" are, as a rule, not the result of faulty feeds, but instead of physiological imperfections within the bird. Soft-shelled eggs are often seen in outbreaks of Newcastle disease.

The requirement of the laying bird for calcium has been set by the National Research Council at 2.25% of the total ration. The entire amount need not be included in the mash. Experiments have shown that laying birds given access to such calcium supplements as hen size particles of oyster shell, clam shell, or limestone grit will supplement the calcium present in the mash with enough of the shell or grit to meet her particular needs for shell-forming materials.

Generally, laying birds receiving a mash containing 2.25 to 2.50% calcium with a calcium supplement available will be supplied with sufficient calcium for shell formation.

Role of Phosphorus

The role of phosphorus in shell formation is a minor one. There are little or no data available that show that the level of phosphorus in the ration influences the quality of egg shell produced.

The shell itself contains only small amounts of phosphorus. Phosphorus, however, is required for egg production. It is an important factor in the complex method whereby the bird uses bone calcium for shell formation.

Phosphorus must be present in the diet in order for calcium to be deposited in the bone. The calcium is deposited in the bone as a calcium phosphate compound. When calcium is withdrawn from the bone, the phosphorus is also withdrawn, but instead of the phosphorus being utilized as the calcium is, it is eliminated from the body through the droppings.

The National Research Council has established the phosphorus requirement for laying birds at 0.75% of the ration. The common practice is to include the entire amount in the laying mash. To do this, it is necessary to include from 1.1 to 1.3% phosphorus in the mash.

Such materials as steamed bone meal, defluorinated phosphate, and dicalcium phosphate have been used as supplements to increase the phosphorus level of the mash to the desired amount.

Adequate vitamin D, secured either through irradiation from sunlight or from the feed, is necessary if the laying bird is to produce shells of maximum strength. Although the egg is one of the few natural foods containing vitamin D, it is not a component part of the shell. Nevertheless, a lack of vitamin D will cause egg shells to become progressively thinner in the same manner as a lack of calcium will.

Vitamin D Necessary

Vitamin D is necessary in the laying ration if the bird is to be able to utilize the calcium and phosphorus, which are provided to her. The actual amount of vitamin D necessary in the ration is somewhat dependent upon the level of calcium and phosphorus in the ration. Inadequate levels of calcium and phosphorus can be compensated for to some extent by increased levels of vitamin D. Higher levels of calcium and phosphorus also tend to decrease requirements for vitamin D.

At levels of 2.25% calcium and 0.75% phosphorus, it is recommended that the ration contain 450 A.O.A.C. units of vitamin D per pound of feed. Birds having access to sunlight will not require this much in their feed. In fact, it is generally felt that the level of vitamin D in the feed can be reduced to about 225 A.O.A.C. units during the summer months.

Experimental evidence has been brought forth in the past few years to show that small amounts of manganese are necessary in the diet of the laying hen for optimum shell formation. It has been determined that a deficiency of manganese will cause reduced breaking strength of shells and an abnormal appearance of the shells when observed before a candling machine.

The exact role of manganese in shell formation has not been definitely established. Recent reports from the Texas Experiment Station indicate that there may be a supplementary relationship between manganese and vitamin D, if not enough of the vitamin is present in the feed. The data of these investigators indicate that laying hens require more manganese than laying pullets.

It is generally accepted that laying rations should contain about 50 parts per million of manganese. The ration can, as a rule, be brought up to this level by including eight ounces of a commercial grade of manganese sulphate in each ton of mash.

Our knowledge of the role of calcium, phosphorus, manganese, and vitamin D in the formation of egg shells does not necessarily mean that we can write the final chapter on the effect of feeding on shell formation. Generally speaking, the quality of shells produced by our heavy laying strains of birds is poor, particularly during the spring and summer months. That additional nutritional factors may be responsible, in part at least, for the summer decline in shell quality is considered a definite possibility.

The role of many of the minor elements and of most of the recently discovered vitamins in shell formation has not been investigated. It is quite possible that, as more research work is completed, a way will be found to improve shell quality by means of better nutrition.

Published in Research

The writer, Mr. Vickers believes there are some good arguments for the creation of a really good dual-purpose chicken. Straight egg-laying strains, he says, have only one leg to stand upon. As so have these recently developed straight 'broiler strains'. "What we want is a chicken with two good legs." This article was written for Poultry Supply Dealer, and appeared in Poultry Digest.

While inspecting flocks for a certain hatchery recently, I heard several flock owners complain to the hatchery manager that winter egg production of their flocks, even in those made up entirely of pullets was not satisfactory. One man went so far as to say that he hadn't made any money at all on his chickens, and was going to turn his laying house into a hog house.

Most of these flock owners had New Hampshires, many for the first time. None of them had been able to get over 60% egg production from their flocks, even though nearly every bird appeared to be laying. Apparently the stock simply didn't have the ability to produce heavily.

The hatchery manager was new on the job and not too well informed regarding the past history of the flocks in question. So he asked me if I could tell him what the trouble was, as we drove from place to place.

Well, I happen to know that last year his hatchery put out broiler strain New Hampshire chicks to these flock owners. The strain evidently just didn't have high laying ability bred into it. I have seen the same thing happen before. The question is: What are hatcherymen going to do about such situations?

There seems to be little doubt that strains, especially New Hampshires, selected and bred for their ability to grow rapidly make slightly more profitable broilers than those that have not been bred for rapid growth. Likewise, it seems that in many cased egg production has been largely ignored by breeders interested in developing broiler strains, with the result that such strains frequently are incapable of sustained high egg production comparable to that of strains bred for high laying ability.

And unfortunately, in the past, most of those who have bred their birds for egg production have pretty largely disregarded meat qualities of their stock.

Broiler raisers naturally are interested in strains that will be most efficient as meat producers. Unfortunately, such chicks have to be hatched from eggs produced by laying flocks; and these laying flocks are owned mostly by flock owners who must make their profits not from broilers but from eggs.

When broiler growers want one kind of chick and flock owners want another, obviously they can both be satisfied only with a chicken that makes a top-notch broiler and at the same time will lay heavily enough so that flockowners can make decent profits from eggs.

I sometimes wonder if we aren't placing too much emphasis at present on the importance of developing meat-type birds. With industry attention so strongly focused on meat qualities, egg production is being almost completely ignored. In my opinion w have become almost as "meat lopsided" as we formerly were "egg top-heavy".

Ideal Chicken

The ideal all-around chicken, of course, would be one that would still lay lots of eggs, so that everyone concerned could make a profit on it.

Most people believe such a strain can be developed. It will obviously take longer to evolve a strain of this kind than to develop strains for particular purposes, because it would be a much more complicated job. Nevertheless, the differences between the egg production strains and the specialized broiler strains, with respect to meat qualities are not very great, as several recent tests have shown. And with a little emphasis and selection pressure for meat qualities some of our egg strains could probably equal, or nearly equal, the pure broiler strains from a meat production standpoint.

I know one hatcheryman in a broiler area who formerly produced pure, broiler strain New Hampshire chicks. Egg production of his supply flocks, however, was so low that he had constant trouble keeping flockowners. He solved his problem by supplying his flockowners with an egg production strain of New Hampshires, to which he mates males of the pure broiler strain.

Dual Qualities Result

He says the offspring are just about as good for broilers as the pure broiler strain. And the flockowners are much better satisfied because of the improvement in egg production.

It is my belief that meat and broiler quality can be improved more quickly and with less effort than egg production factors. Therefore, I believe a good egg production strain with reasonably good meat and broiler qualities can be more quickly developed into a good, all-around chicken than pure broiler strains with low egg producing ability could.

I know of one breeder who is basing his present work on this theory. He is selecting day-old chicks for rapid feathering again at two weeks, and he is weighing all chicks at 8 and 12 weeks of age.

I his individual breeding pens he is using only good egg producing females from good egg production families, that exhibited good average weight at 8 and 12 weeks of age.

No individual male is used that was not above the average weight of all males at 8 and 12 weeks. Furthermore, these males must be well fleshed and must possess good meat qualities.

I believe such a procedure will rapidly improve the broiler and meat qualities of his strain.

I believe an all-around good chicken can be produced. I believe it will be produced, and that the day of the one-purpose chicken is numbered. The latter has only one leg to stand on and what we need is a good two-legged chicken. To be sure, this is a day of specialization, but the specializing should be directed toward producing a good, all-purpose bird.

An all-around bird is what is needed in the great majority of farm flocks, and that is what is needed in broiler areas, too, if flockowners are to be satisfied and enabled to make satisfactory profits.

Some people have suggested that hatcherymen should produce both egg laying and broiler strains, and pay higher premiums to flockowners who produce the broiler strain eggs to compensate for lower egg production. This is another of those theories, however, which hatcherymen tell me simply will not work in practice.

Published in Research

Poultry husbandry is such today that considerable confusion and misapprehension are present where the grit requirements of domestic poultry are concerned. As a result large numbers of chickens receive the wrong type, causing ill health and suffering, and in not a few cases deaths occur. Two quotations from the literature will show the confusion present today.

  1. "It is interesting to note that this experiment indicates that limestone grit cannot be regarded as an efficient substitute for insoluble grit". E. T. Halnan (1946).
  2. "Limestone seems amply capable of serving in the dual capacity of furnishing the minerals for eggshell making and for whatever additional service grit may render in the digestive system." W. Ray Ewing (1947).

Two Types of Grit

There are two main types of grit, each different in function –

  1. Insoluble Grit – useful for its mechanical effects in the gizzard
  2. Soluble Grit – valuable for the calcium, which it supplies to the hen, after it undergoes solution in the gastric juices.

Neither of these two types of grit plays any functional part, as such, prior to our succeeding the gizzard proper. They are not, therefore, of any value in crop or intestinal digestion.

Insoluble Grits

The supply of insoluble grit to poultry is generally made by the use of such substances as flint, quartz, granite, gravel, sand, etc.

In certain quarters there is some prejudice against flint as a grit for poultry because of it s shattering, splitting nature (due to its molecular structure) giving too many of its particles an elongated and sharply pointed nature – yet there is no doubt that more flint grit is used commercially in Great Britain than any other, but there is much to be said for the production and sale of a hard and permanent grit (cuboid in shape) and granite or gravel would appear quite satisfactory. Flint grit cost about 9/- a cwt. and the fact that it is available everywhere in graduated sizes helps to make it popular.

Function of Insoluble Grit

When present in the gizzard in reasonable quantities, flint-type grits have two main functions:

  1. to divide and separate food particles so that the digestive, enzyme-like secretions from the proventriculus and the mineral acid of the gizzard can permeate freely.
  2. grinding and crushing.

Both functions (a) and (b) are dependent on normal gizzard motility. When the gizzard contains both solid food particles and grit a "masticating" effect follows. Grass, leaves and grain undergo pulverization, and with each muscular contraction more vegetable cells are exposed to the action of the digestive juices. Foods of animal origin, including the "wings and legs of insect, worms, slugs, snails, fish and meat also break down mechanically under the grinding process described. There is little doubt, however, that as a result of gizzardectomy experiments, whereas this reaction is invaluable to most birds of a graminivorous nature, we now know it is not absolutely necessary for digestion in the domestic hen, and it is certainly unnecessary for certain carnivorous avian species. At the same time, although modern domestic poultry, when being fed on wet and dry mashes, meals and pellets or grains, do not necessarily require insoluble grits for grinding purposes, these substances do aid better food utilization, and therefore may play an economical and indeed important part in poultry husbandry. For example, in the case of young chicks on a diet consisting solely of pellets and water, whilst there is no need for insoluble grit, a proper amount may aid digestion, whereas an excess will cause indigestion. Whilst there is little doubt regarding the former, it is far better to let the chicks do without grit than to risk ill health through mismanagement. It is the regulation of dosage that is the most important factor to be considered.

Soluble Grits

Those in normal use comprise calcium-rich mineral compounds such as limestone, oyster shell, cockle shell, Malton fossils, rock phosphate, etc. Although in some countries there is a strong prejudice in favour of oyster shell grit for poultry, there is little scientific evidence t warrant this and any soluble lime-containing grit is suitable provided it does not contain unwanted or harmful minerals.

Function of Soluble Grits

On the general poultry farm, where the farmer mixes his own rations, lime-containing grits are used to supply calcium both for growth and egg shell formation. But in the case of commercial foods it is generally only the latter function for which soluble grit is required. For growth purposes sufficient calcium is usually added to chick and growers rations in order to balance the Ca:P ration, and this obviates the necessity of giving limestone grit. In practice, however, the giving of soluble grits is frequently recommended for poultry of all ages and with all rations, and results are often disastrous.

Harmful Effects of Flint-Type Grits

For your chicks in particular the use of flint grit ad lib may be fraught with danger, particularly if the total ration is not well balanced. Also if there is a shortage of calcium in the diet, or a wide Ca:P ration or if there is pica from a cause, there may well be an excessive intake of grit. This will be followed by an overloading of the gizzard, and some of the grit will overflow into the duodenum. This passes rapidly to the exterior with the faeces and in many instances a mechanical laceration of the small intestine occurs. Deaths are not uncommon, and ailing chicks show ruffled feathers and stunted growth, but such cases do not occur if the grit is given in restricted quantities at say fortnightly intervals; whereas the giving of flint type grit in hoppers ad lib, or in heaps in the brooder house runs is often dangerous. When the gizzard does not contain an excess of such grit the appetite for dry mashes is reduced, intestinal motility is increased and foodstuffs pass more quickly than normal to the outside. Post-mortem examination findings are of course characteristic – from overloading of the gizzard to the resulting enteritis. As treatment no further supplies of grit should be given for at least one month and then only if subsequent post-mortem findings show that the gizzard is nearly grit free. If cretapreparata 5 per cent is added to the diet for 7 days, its ingestion assists recovery, as also does chlorodyne, in medicinal doses. Once the diet has been corrected it is best to eliminate flint grit from the ration, providing the chicks are being reared intensively and are not being given feeds of grass or green food.

An absence of grit from the gizzard of poultry may lead to no harm whilst the diet contains no grass, otherwise impactions of the gizzard by grass leaves and grain (entwining themselves into a knotted mass) may occur. Portions of the entangled material may pass also into the small intestines, whilst at other times a complete occlusion of the pylorus is a feature of the malady. Occasionally a secondary cause, such as an impaired gizzard motility – possibly of Fowl Paralysis origin – is present. It should be noted that once the gizzard is impacting itself, then the crop also becomes full of additional grass, mash and leaves, etc., which soon turns sour.

On some occasions birds crave for grass, as seen in Pullet Disease, but often there is little or no clue as to the real cause for eating too much grass.

A heavy intake of grass, particularly semi-dried long grasses, may overtax a gizzard even when some grit is present.

Harmful Effects of Limestone Grits

In the writer's veterinary experience much harm is caused to poultry at all ages by a too free use of soluble lime-containing grits. At times, no doubt, the intake has been excessive, caused by a concomitant absence of insoluble grit, but generally speaking it follows its more or less unrestricted use for young chicks – birds in fact which are neither educated to its use, nor have any special need of its contained calcium. Its use ad lib may cause a special form of indigestion call by the writer "Lime Poisoning". D. S. Farner (1943) has shown that the gastric hydrogen ion concentration is reduced significantly by adding to basic rations calcium carbonate in the form of limestone grits, whilst an investigation at the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station (1935) has also shown that extra calcium carbonate retards digestion. Doubtless these two pieces of research have a direct bearing on the aetiology of so-called "Lime Poisoning."

"Lime Poisoning"

In the writer's experience this malady is fairly common in Great Britain, due solely to the indiscriminate use of limestone as a so-called complete grit from hatching onwards.

Clinically, lime poisoning is characterized by a heavy culling rate, particularly in growing stock which should be on the point of lay; affected birds are "light" when handled and a general inspection of the droppings of the flock shows the passage of undigested food. (The limestone grit is, of course, in full evidence throughout the pens, and is available ad lib.) Post-mortem findings show semi-impaction of the gizzard; a catarrhal enteritis of the duodenum, which becomes more acute in the jejunum and is associated with the passage of grossly undigested food. Particles of wheat or maize add grass fibres may be clearly recognizable at all lengths of the gut. The exterior of the duodenum is often characterized by diffuse haemorrhages, but they are often limited to the muscular and sub-peritoneal layers. A characteristic yellowish pigmentation of the duodenal mucous membrane is often present, while the jejunal contents are frothy and clear. Intestinal parasites are secondary and variable. Manifestations of Fowl Paralysis, in one or more of its common forms, are also to be noted on certain occasions. During the past 15 years the writer has achieved considerable success in a number of instances in checking Fowl Paralysis by ensuring that once the diet is balanced no limestone grit is given until the birds are in full production.

Published in Research

It has been known for some time that there are a number of ductless glands in the body and that the secretions of these glands (and from others having ducts) play a very important role in the growth and development of the body. The action exerted by the ductless glands and from certain glands having ducts (the endocrine glands) is equally important in the functioning of the fowl's body as with the human species.

At the outset if must be admitted that our knowledge of the working of the endocrine glands is fragmentary – and moreover, that what knowledge we possess is not all, as yet, of practical importance to the poultry keeper. Nevertheless, the application of a small part of that knowledge has already indicated that substantial changes in certain commercial methods of management may take place. A brief sketch of other possible lines work on which these possibilities may be based will, no doubt, be of interest to the poultry keeper whose horizon stretches beyond the immediate problems of the day.

One Aspect

A survey of the whole field – limited as our knowledge is – would be too extensive for the scope of a single article, and the following account is therefore concerned with one aspect of endocrinology – the effect of the secretions of the sex glands, since it is in their field that practical application of our knowledge appears to have made the greatest advance.

The secretions of the sex glands appear to control the sexual characteristics of the bird. Thus, those secretions from the male organs result in the copulative habits of the male bird, the development of male plumage, the comb, wattles and the male voice. In the case of the female, the feminine habits and sexual characteristics derive from the secretions of the female sex organs.

A simple demonstration is the caponizing of the male bird leading to certain feminine habits and the shrinkage or depression of the male attributes, such as the large size of the male comb and wattles.

The secretions, or hormones as they are collectively called, are known as androgens in the case of the male, while those of the female are known as estrogens.

These terms cover several substances, but of major importance is the fact that a large number of substances having a similar chemical composition – and more important – having the same biological properties, can by synthetically prepared. Now the knowledge of the role played by these sex hormones suggested that some advantage might result from the treatment of fowl by androgens or estrogens.

It seemed possible that the injection of female sex hormones into hens or pullets might stimulate the female habit of egg production. A similar treatment directed towards the male might lead to feminine bodily characteristics of value in the table poultry industry, while treatment of the incubating egg with estrogenic substances (female sex hormone) might lead to the production of female chicks only.

It is probably known that the gonads or sex glands are very similar in shape until the sixth day of embryonic development. With the male the two gonads develop into two equally active testes or male gonads, but in the case of the female it is only the left gonad that becomes active on maturity as the ovary – the right remaining rudimentary. What the scientist endeavors t do is to change a genetic male, i.e., an embryo that would normally hatch as the production of inter-sexes – chicks showing the attributes of both mal and female. The several investigations seem to indicate, however, that some of the male hormone materials lead to ambi-sexual activities.

Treatment of genetic males with female hormone materials, i.e., estrogens, seems more successful. The genetic males produced from incubated eggs so treated appear to have developed the sex organs of a female to a lesser or greater degree. In the case of genetic females examples have been produced showing two incompletely developed oviducts, and in a case cited by Greenwood, the bird laid shell-less eggs.

It seems not at all impossible that in the not too distant future treatment of the embryo with female sex hormones (estrogens) may lead to the production of female chicks only – an obvious advantage from the viewpoint of the table egg producer.

Hen Treatment

No great attempt appears to have been made to ascertain whether a male bird can be turned into a female. The variation between the gonads in the case of the female appears to lead to some complication in trying to carry out this work. Injections with certain male hormone substances into the incubating egg have certainly led to stimulation of egg production and can be achieved by the treatment of the hen with female hormone material. One of the reasons may be the extremely complicated nature of the problem. A stimulation of one activity alone may not result in the desired end if other activities do not receive an equally strong stimulus, and it will be borne in mind that egg production is an extremely complicated process.

Nevertheless there is some evidence that the injection of one estrogenic substance leads to increased secretion of albumen, while another hormone – prolactin – the secretion of the pituitary gland that induces broodiness.

Cow manure apparently contains an androgenic (male hormone) substance, and the inclusion of dried cow manure in a normal mash has been shown to lead to depression of egg production. Dried cow manure with the androgenic substances destroyed included in a mash containing no animal protein did, however, materially improves hatchability.

One important point that is apparent throughout the work of most investigators of the problems is the fact that in most instances the changes induced are temporary. This is not surprising since in the normal bird the various hormones are being continually secreted. Until this difficulty can be overcome, it may from the financial viewpoint prove a limiting factor over the practical application of the work.

This short term effect, no doubt, led to the belief that short term feminisation of males would be of practical value for the table poultry industry, and might do away with the need for caponisation. The theory held was obviously that the stimulation of feminine behavior would lead to results identical with those reached by caponisation. Several treatments with estrogens – notably diethylstilbestrol – have been attempted. The treatment has been carried into effect with both male and female birds.

The work is still in the experimental stage and it is not surprising to find some differences of view held by the many workers concerned. With old hens opinion seems generally in accord with the view that no change in the carcass quality takes place.

Opinions Vary

With male birds varying opinions are held, some workers maintaining that no change in weight takes place but appearance and texture of skin is improved, others take the view that deposition of the fat – but not necessarily amount of fat – is affected, while still other investigators state that an increase in carcass weight is achieved.

Quite possibly these varying views arise from the different estrogenic materials used, different methods of implantation, and the varying ages of the birds. The length of treatment normally extends over about four weeks.

Obviously much more investigation is necessary and it must not be forgotten that complete absorption of the estrogen must be assured for the substances may be effective with the human consumer of the bird!

To sum up: In spite of our limited knowledge of the subject it is clear that the use of sex hormones may be of great advantage to poultry keeping in the future. Three attractive fields of research have been indicated and no doubt they will be of interest to the workers at the research centres recently set up in this country. The practical application of fresh knowledge in this field may be a possibility far sooner than many imagine.

Published in Research

An interesting theory was recently presented to us by an observer of our industry. During the past three seasons a malady has affected a great many chicks during their first two weeks of life that has been diagnosed as a kidney disease. Quite severe losses have been reported, in any event bad enough to warrant an investigation being undertaken by the University of British Columbia, so far without any great satisfaction resulting.

Our informant stated that it is only recently that our fish oils have been reinforced by synthetic vitamin D, and the period corresponds roughly with the advent of the kidney trouble. His theory is that the synthetic vitamin D, which is a coal tar preparation, may be the cause of the inflammation of the kidneys, and he cites the fact that manufacturers of the synthetic vitamins warn physicians not to prescribe them to patients suffering from any kidney complaint. He therefore concludes that there may be something harmful to kidneys and a percentage of chicks are unable to successfully handle this product. We publicize this theory in the belief that some research work would prove beneficial to the industry. It may be that a normally healthy chick would not be affected and that it is only the weak chick – that should not be alive – that succumbs to an intake of this synthetic product. We suggest that our universities undertake an investigation for the benefit of the industry.

Published in Research

As this is a meeting of men interested in hatching and selling baby chicks, let us start with a box of baby chicks as they arrive on the farm.

Upon arrival a baby chick is a bundle of possibilities and it is partly your duty as hatcherymen to see that the purchaser gets everything possible out of the chicks.

We are convinced that most losses in baby chicks are due to mismanagement and a great deal of these losses can be prevented by proper instruction, on the handling of baby chicks.

Baby chicks upon arrival should immediately be taken out of their box and put in a brooder which has previously been thoroughly prepared by cleaning and heating for 3 days before the arrival of the chicks so as to insure an even temperature of 95 to 100 degrees F. Baby chicks should be kept separate from all other poultry. A baby chick's first need is water; as it body is comprised of 55% water. Water is needed for the following purposes; as a solvent for food stuffs, transportation of food stuffs, to chemically aid digestion, in the regulation of body temperature and the elimination of body waste. Water is more essential to poultry than feed. A chicken will live longer on water alone than on feed alone. A properly balanced chick starter should be regularly fed.

All drinking fountains, feeding troughs and other equipment should be washed once per day in boiling water.

Pullorum Losses

If there are any pullorum losses in the chicks, they will commence at about 2 weeks. Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done at this time to prevent these losses except putting strict sanitation measures into effect and immediately removing any sick or dead chicks. Be sure of your diagnosis when losses appear in your flock. There is operated by each province, a Provincial Laboratory where you may send sick or dead, preferably sick, chicks and chickens and obtain a proper diagnosis. Make full use of this service supplied by your Provincial Government.

Checking and Preventing Coccidiosis

From figures gathered from every province in the Dominion it is evident that there has been less pullorum chick mortality this year than ever before. In fact pullorum losses this past season have been negligible, but let us not be lulled into a false sense of security. We must still be on the alert for any increase in pullorum outbreaks.

The Coccidiosis danger period starts at three weeks of age. The Division of Animal Pathology, Science Service of the Dominion Department of Agriculture have just completed but not yet published a long and thorough study of Coccidiosis and it is their findings that certain of the sulpha drugs will control coccidiosis. These sulpha drugs however must not be used promiscuously in large amounts or for too long periods, as harmful results, such as chronic bleeding, upset nutritional balances, lack of egg shell, etc. may result.

The drugs, sulphamerazine and sulphamethazine will check coccidial infection even after it has progressed to the stage when bleeding has commenced. These drugs when given in smaller doses during the time when birds are exposed to infection will prevent disease.

The dosage of sulphamerazine and sulphamethazine for preventive treatment is one ounce per 30 lbs. of feed thoroughly mixed and fed for 6 days. It must be remembered that it is essential for birds to be exposed to infection while they are getting the preventative treatment; otherwise they will not become immune.

The amounts of drug necessary for curative treatment is one ounce per 15 pounds of feed thoroughly mixed, and treatment should be started at the first sign of bloody droppings and continued for three days.

These sulpha drugs if obtained by the poultryman at a cost of $18.00 per pound, and we hope this will be possible by next spring, can be used for either a three-day curative treatment or a six day preventative treatment at a total cost of less than .01c per bird.

Practical systems are now being worked out by the Division of Animal Pathology, and these will be available before the coming spring. These coccidiosis control measures will, when ready, be given adequate publicity and instructions for their use will be available to any one.

Pullorum Reduced to One Percent

Speaking now of pullorum control, we wish to emphasize that it is not accident that the pullorum reaction in hatchery supply flocks has been reduced from 20% at the start of organized pullorum testing to less than 1% today.

This sharp reduction in reaction percentage is the result of a carefully planned and closely followed control or eradication policy and we cannot emphasize too strongly your responsibility in seeing that these control measures are followed at all times.

How Percentage Should Be Figured

It is the custom in most provinces to figure the annual pullorum percentage on the final test figures of each flock. While this gives us the percentage of hatchery supply flocks at the start of the hatching season, it does not give us a true picture of the pullorum reaction in a province. To properly determine the effect of the control policy, all reactors in the first tests of each year should be used in figuring the provincial percentage of reaction and that percentage then compared to similar percentages of previous years.

We know what should be done for a sound pullorum control program, and so let us follow that program, but at the same tie we should now turn our minds to other diseases and problems of poultry. Let us attempt to work out sound practical programs for other diseases that are now just as important to our industry.

Hatchery Needs Four Departments

Turning to the hatchery, we must all realize that the chick hatching industry is now a main street proposition and every effort must be made to keep it where it is today. The chief function of a hatchery is to change the raw product, hatching eggs, into baby chicks. The steps in this process all follow in sequence and each step should be kept separate from each other; thus making necessary at least four separate departments-

1) Egg receiving room, which if necessary can also be sued for traying the eggs, but it is preferable to have a separate room for this purpose.
2) The incubating and hatching room, in which nothing but the machines should be kept.
3) Chick grading, boxing and shipping room.
4) The wash up room, where all trays and other essential equipment should be thoroughly washed after each use.

If brooding is to be carried on, it is absolutely essential that a separate brooder room with no direct entrance to the machine room be maintained.

Hatching Chicks Now Big Business with 9000 Approved Flocks

In Canada during the past year there were approximately 3,000,000 birds comprising some 9,000 poultry flocks, that were approved in order to ship hatching eggs to Canada Approved Hatcheries. This means that during the hatching season, approved hatcheries are the marketing agents for 9,000 Canadian poultry farmers who supply the hatching eggs for the poultry industry as a whole. In addition these 9,000 supply flock owners buy back chicks produced by approved hatcheries, so that hatchery operators are doubly responsible to their supply flock owners primarily for their initial raw product and secondly because they constitute a portion of their market.

The Servicing of Supply Flocks

The first essential to the success of a hatchery operator is the exercise of care in the selection of sound, progressive poultrymen as supply flock owners and then treat them as partners in his business, as indeed they are. It is also the duty of an approved hatchery operator to service his supply flocks.

A qualified hatchery service man visiting supply flocks regularly is in a position to advise owners of any needed changes in their program to produce better hatching eggs, and at the same time the hatchery gains the protection of knowing al the approved flock regulations are being followed.

Supply flock owners should feed a good breeding ration and start feeding it at least four weeks prior to the first hatching egg delivery. As most of the nutritional factors required for normal embryo growth are also essential for normal chick growth, high livability of chicks is closely associated with high hatchability of eggs.

To produce good hatching eggs there must be a sound breeding program and good flock management. Parasites can, for example, reduce hatchability; dirty eggs are a nuisance as well as a potential source of disease to the hatcheryman; poor shell texture does not enhance hatching eggs. All these and many other related problems can be cleared away by a qualified hatchery service man.

Flock owner meetings can and should be held, with a few short talks on mutual problems giving the flock owner an opportunity to have his questions answered and pointing out to him the benefits of better hatchability from a properly cared for flock. An insight into the hatchery operations and all they entail should be given the flock owners in order that they may appreciate the hatchery operator's side of the picture.

A circular letter service can be set up by the hatchery operator as a means of passing out to his supply flock owners new information, suggestions and ideas. The trend in chick demand and production can also be given as an aid to flock owners, along with interesting bits of information about individual flock owners, or any information about the hatchery and special orders that have been received. It will be found that every effort put forward to increase the flock owners' interest in the production of better hatching eggs and to promote confidence in the hatchery will pay good dividends.

It is the duty of an approved hatchery operator to operate the hatchery in such a manner that the hatching egg shipper gets the best possible returns on his hatching eggs ad that the chick buyers get the best possible chicks that can be produced. Good hatchery management consists of constant attention to a multitude of small details; the neglect of any one of which may lead to serious losses.

Infection and Sanitation

One of the important factors in producing quality chicks is sanitation and this is important in a hatcher as most diseases are spread through the presence of filth and dirt. In a hatchery with the constant flow of people, egg cases, eggs, chick boxes, chick incubator waste and in some cased feed and other poultry supplies, dirt is bound to accumulate and if this dirt remains, bacteria or disease producing organisms can thrive and spread.

Some of the most common sources of infection to hatcheries are dirty eggs, dirty egg cases, visitors, the use of used chick boxes, refuse from incubators, used feed bags, sick chickens and poultry coops.

A properly operated hatchery can overcome potential sources of infection and produce better chicks by the application of a few simple rules.

(1) Keep the hatchery clean and tidy at all times. Don't let supplies pile up on top of the machines and be dust collectors. After each hatch is taken off, wash up the entire premises using plenty of water and a good disinfectant. Keep the premises swept clean and free of cobwebs at all times.
(2) Have incubator refuse removed as soon as possible from the hatchery and if necessary to hold it overnight, hold outside in tightly closed refuse cans.
(3) Fumigate the machines regularly. It must be remembered that the sole function of fumigation is to create a disease free atmosphere in which the chicks can be hatched. Fumigation cannot destroy organisms inside an unhatched egg, nor will fumigation cure pullorum once established in a baby chick. Chick embryos are susceptible to formaldehyde only during the 24th to 72nd hour of incubation, that is the 2nd and 3rd days.
How to Fumigate Incubators

For proper fumigation use 1 ½ cu. Centimeters of formalin and 1 gram of potassium permanganate per cubic foot of incubator space (inside measurements). Machine to be aired after 20 minutes.

A simple and satisfactory fumigation program is as follows:

(i) Fumigate so as to expose each set to a gassing, being careful not to expose embryos to formaldehyde on the 2nd or 3rd day.
(ii) If separate hatchers are used, fumigate after transferring the eggs, but before any chicks have pipped.
(iii) Fumigate after each hatch has been taken off, but before any cleaning up has been commenced. This renders all debris harmless.
(iv) Do not allow visitors in the incubating room. Have a counter or public room where all business can be transacted.
(v) Do not brood chicks in the incubator room ad do not have the started chicks travel back through the hatchery on their way out.
(vi) Do not receive hatching eggs in the incubator room. If possible have a separate room for receiving eggs and other hatchery supplies. Tray either in the receiving room or a traying room. Do not take egg cases into incubator room.
(vii) Do not allow employees to wear the same clothes for flock field work and inside work.
(viii) Supply adequate washing facilities for all employees.
(ix) Do not allow sick or dead chickens or poultry coops inside the hatchery. If sick or dead birds must be examined, do this outside the hatchery.
(x) Have convenient washing facilities for chick sexers, and have them used regularly. Be sure that clean boxes are used for sexing and that chicks are carefully handled.
(xi) Operate the incubators in a manner that will hatch the best possible chicks. The present day incubator, as fully automatic as it is, still requires a competent and conscientious operator.

In general the higher percentage of hatch, the higher percentage of husky and strong chicks will be produced. Overheating, chilling and improper moisture in incubators at hatching time will result in poor quality chicks.

Published in Key Developments
Page 21 of 22

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