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.
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!
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.”
Ontario lost a large number of birds last summer to heat, Harry Huffman, an agricultural engineer who specializes in ventilation, told about 60 broiler producers at a seminar in Holmesville, Ont. sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
Southern Ontario had 46 days with temperatures over 30 degrees C, 13 days over 34 degrees and eight days over 35 degrees.
While there was little precipitation last summer there were a number of days with very high humidity, which increases the heat stress, he said.
“Heat stress is most severe when high temperatures are coupled with high humidity,” he said.
Environment Canada has developed a formula that combines the two factors to create a Humidex reading. These readings reflect the comfort level for people.
While no Humidex reading has been done for livestock, Huffman said, it’s safe to assume that animals will have somewhat similar degrees of discomfort with heat stress.
Humidex comfort levels on the chart are as follows: 29 or lower, no discomfort; 30 to 39, some discomfort; 40 to 45, great discomfort, avoid exertion; above 45, dangerous; and above 54, imminent heat stroke.
As long as the humidex is below 54, growers can do a number of things to reduce the severity of heat stress. Above that level, “it is quite likely some bird losses will occur regardless of housing management,” he said.
The first thing is not to overcrowd summer flocks.
Second, acclimatize the birds to possible heat stress at four weeks of age by allowing the barn temperature to rise for several hours. Research shows that short bouts of heat stress will help the birds survive future heat stress periods.
Third, increase the light level in the pen prior to operating large-diameter fans or opening tunnel ventilation doors. This will reduce the fear reaction and subsequent flight from the bright areas. This type of flight reaction has caused piling near the centre of the barn and suffocation.
Fourth, exhaust sufficient air in hot weather. Try to keep the barn within two degrees of the outside temperature and aim for a complete air change every minute.
Fifth, ensure that the air inlet has sufficient capacity to handle the fresh airflow. There should be at least 1.5 square feet of inlet opening for each 1,000 CFM of fan capacity and some insurance companies insist on two square feet for heat prostration coverage.
Sixth, verify proper air intake velocity with a static pressure gauge. In order to have good air movement it is important to have lower static pressure in summer. The usual range for summer, he said, is .03 to .06 inches while in cold weather the range will be .05 to .08 inches static pressure.
Seventh, if the static pressure is too high increase the fresh air openings. Ideally, this will be done by increasing the air inlet opening of the addition of more air inlets to enhance the airflow over the birds. Doors can be used, he advised, if they are only opened to the extent necessary to bring the static pressure down to the correct range. Opening too many doors will eliminate the vacuum and airflow will be less than required everywhere except directly in front of the openings.
Eighth, make sure the air is moving across the barn at bird level. This air movement is required to remove the heat from the bird as quickly as possible. Moving air at a reasonable speed around the birds’ heads and necks has the potential to reduce the perceived temperature by one to three degrees Celsius.
There are a number of ways to increase air movement at bird level, he said.
These include: a deflector board for a typical side air inlet; a new double side air inlet system; a second air inlet lower on the side wall; a second air inlet on the opposite side of the barn; tunnel ventilation; tunnel ventilation baffles to increase air speed; and internal air circulation fans.
Ninth, make sure the birds get plenty of cool water. Water consumption should double during hot weather.
Tenth, slowly walk the birds during periods of heat stress. This promotes air movement and releases the heat trapped under the birds, Huffman said. It also encourages the birds to move to the drinkers and allows you to more closely monitor the birds. However any bird activity generates more body heat and can increase heat stress. Therefore, this walking exercise may be best if done in the morning when it is usually cooler.
Eleventh, ensure that the attic is properly insulated and ventilated.
Twelve, any colour other than white will absorb significant solar heat. There can be significant attic heat reduction if the roof is painted white. In addition, there are now ceramic paints or coatings available, in a variety of colours that will reduce solar heating.
Thirteenth, if possible have the air inlet on the shady side of the building.
Fourteenth, talk to your feed company representative and veterinarian about feed withdrawal practices during periods of heat stress.
Fifteen, consider some form of evaporative cooling. Adding water vapour to the air is an excellent way to bring down air temperature, he said. Depending on the humidity levels evaporative cooling can reduce air temperatures anywhere from one to six degrees because the water vapour absorbs heat.
The impact can be dramatic. For example (referring to the Humidex chart), it can be seen that if one could bring the temperature down from 34 degrees to 30 degrees the Humidex would be in the safe zone even if the humidity rose from 80 to 85 per cent. Even at 90 per cent humidity the Humidex is 45.6 compared with 52 at 80 per cent humidity.
In summary, Huffman said there are a number of things that can be done to help your birds survive the heat, but they require planning and may involve some spending.
“Therefore, give the various options some thought over the winter and have your improvements in place prior to next summer’s heat wave,” he said.
To determine the cost-benefit of a biosecurity system, one needs to juggle two types of information: facts about the economics associated with the type of production and the costs of implementing a biosecurity system; and estimates of the relative risk and cost of disease.
Many relatively inexpensive biosecurity measures may generate substantial benefits. Most are designed to control people access to the farm and to improve sanitation. However, these are dependent on compliance. The challenge is to convince all poultry personnel of the impact of their actions on the risk of breaking with an infectious disease. Education and communication are key factors in determining people’s perception of disease risks and, consequently, their assessment of the potential benefits of a biosecurity system.
In high density areas, a regional perspective is essential to the design of a biosecurity system, mainly in the face of an epidemic. Hence, the challenge for today’s poultry industry is to determine the cost-benefit in partnership with regional competitors.
Infectious diseases have always been a limiting factor in commercial poultry production. The scientific community has responded fairly successfully by producing effective vaccines for conditions such as Marek’s disease, hemorrhagic enteritis, Newcastle, infectious bronchitis, etc. However, even when vaccines exist, diseases remain costly; in particular in a global market economy where they can be used as trade barriers.
In the United States, the vertical integration of the industry has produced large efficient multi-site complexes designed to enhance productivity and reduce production costs. This model has been very successful economically. However, over the past few years, it has been challenged by emerging and reemerging infectious diseases. For example, several outbreaks of infectious laryngotracheitis and of mycoplasmosis have been reported. Poult enteritis mortality syndrome (PEMS) has had a devastating effect on the turkey industry in the South East United States. Turkey coronavirus enteritis (TCE) is still very much prevalent in the eastern part of North Carolina. In the northeast and the south, many industry people and health officials have expressed concerns over the presence of Avian Influenza in live bird markets.
These public health and production concerns need to be addressed. Biosecurity should certainly be the corner- stone of any long-term response to disease aggression. However, given the concentration of farms in certain areas, such concerns cannot be addressed solely by on-farm biosecurity.
A regional perspective is needed, and should be part of a biosecurity system. How do you determine the cost-benefit of such a system? This is not an easy question to answer. Preventing the occurrence of a given disease on a given farm cannot be, without a doubt, attributed to a specific set of biosecurity rules. In other words, you do not know for sure whether your biosecurity system is truly effective or whether the flocks on your farm have simply not been at risk. It is also true that the most stringent biosecurity system does not offer an absolute protection against diseases. Rossigneux (1998) suggests that the word biosecurity is indeed misleading because security implies the absence of danger (i.e., infection), which is probably never achieved under field conditions. So, to answer this question, one needs to juggle with two types of information: facts about the economics associated with the type of production and the costs of implementing a biosecurity system; and estimates of the relative risk and cost of disease.
Economic models developed to assess the value of biosecurity systems suggest that prevention of disease in the end is always less expensive than treatment (Morris, 1995). Gifford et al. (1987), working on a model for broiler breeders, confirmed “that expenditure on protective measures can be justified by both the risk of introducing a disease and the magnitude of losses that may occur following infection”. On a broiler breeder farm, the benefit-cost ratio of biosecurity is at least three for a farm considered at a 30% risk of being infected by an agent causing a severe disease. In the case of the most pathogenic conditions, they found that investment in biosecurity was justified even with a 0.01 probability of outbreak. However, the challenge in assessing the cost-benefit of a specific biosecurity measure is to contrast the resulting investment with other potential ventures. For example, adding an automatic gate to limit access to a breeder flock (with automatic recording of visitors and times) may represent a $13,500 investment. These funds could potentially also be used to purchase a piece of equipment that could immediately reduce the number of people required for a specific task, providing an immediate and easily quantifiable return on investment. However, the potential benefits in both cases should be assessed over the projected life of the equipment, considering the magnitude of the savings if this gate contributes to the prevention of a serious disease. In this case, of course, the return would be very high, but so may be the degree of uncertainty that this preventive measure will be effective.
Estimating the Risk of Disease
Estimating the risk of disease is also partly a subjective exercise. However, substantial evidence has been reported regarding major risks such as:
- Poor farm location: farm located in high density region (other farms within 2 km of premises);
- Introduction of birds of unknown origin;
- Introduction of contaminated material or infected birds;
- Presence of an infectious disease of interest in a region;
- Presence of this disease in neighbouring farms;
- Pest infestation (rodents and/or insects);
- Poor sanitation;
- No restrictions or requirements for visitors (i.e., high on-farm traffic, including hired help going from farm to farm);
These are common sense hazards that must be considered when estimating the risk of disease transmission. Although self evident, these risks are often ignored in practice. A similar situation exists in human medicine where significant health risk and protective factors are often neglected by patients. In the 1950’s, the United States Public Health Service developed the Health Believe Model to explain such behavior (Rosenstock, 1974). This model proposes that health risk assessment is determined by the individual’s perception of:
- His level of personal susceptibility to the particular disease;
- The degree of disability that might result from contracting this condition;
- The health action’s potential efficacy in preventing or reducing susceptibility or severity;
- Physical, psychological, financial barriers or costs related to compliance.
This model may very well apply to a grower’s perception of risk for his flock. One can also assume that this belief model pertains to the decision-making process of managers of integrated companies, shaping their appreciation of risks and of biosecurity measures. One supportive evidence is the fact that a similar proportion of poultry people comply with biosecurity measures as the general population does for disease prevention strategies designed to help them (Vaillancourt, unpublished data).
Table 2 offers an assessment of relative risk and of potential benefits based on the literature and on personal experience (Biosecurity in the poultry industry, 1995; Rossigneux, 1998; Wojcinski, 1993; Chiu, 1988). Of this list of usual suspects, one should consider in particular the following risks: poor employee training; lack of communication; lack of incentives for people associated with the farm; absence of a regional perspective; no auditing, and poor record keeping of the biosecurity system.
Assuming that Table 2 offers a valid assessment, it highlights the fact that many relatively inexpensive biosecurity measures may generate substantial benefits. Most are measures designed to control people access to the farm and to improve sanitation. However, these are dependent on compliance. In high density areas, a regional perspective is essential to the design of a biosecurity system, mainly in the face of an epidemic.
The cost-benefit assessment of biosecurity measures is determined by people’s perception of the level of risk to which they and their birds are exposed. This will also determine their degree of compliance with biosecurity measures.
The challenge is to convince all poultry personnel of the impact of their actions on the risk of breaking with an infectious disease. Education and communication are key factors in determining people’s perception of disease risks and, consequently, their assessment of the potential benefits of a biosecurity system.
Facts and Figures
Disease: Fowl Cholera
Type of Production: Commercial turkeys
Cost: $0.59/bird, $0.02/kg
Carpenter, et al. 1988
Disease: Reovirus infection
Type of Production: Broiler breeders
Disease: Influenza (nonpathogenic)
Type of Production: Egg layers, Pullets, Commercial turkeys
Cost: $1.67 to $2.94/bird, $5.05/bird, $5.83/bird
Disease: Influenza (Highly pathogenic)
Type of Production: Chickens
$6.06/bird (government expenses only), $19/bird (cost to industry)
Disease: Mycoplasma Gallisepticum
Type of Production: Egg layers
Disease: Coronavirus infection
Type of Production: Commercial turkeys
Rives, and Crumpler 1998
The estimated cost to the industry of the 1983-1984 Influenza outbreak in Pennsylvania based on the reported cost ($329 million in 2000 US dollars) published in a state extension document.
Procedures and Benefits
Partial list of biosecurity procedures and their relative cost independently of potential benefits ($$$ = very expensive; $$ = expensive; $ = inexpensive; ¢ = virtually no cost) and potential benefits (+++ = High; ++ = moderate; + = minimal)
Isolation (distance) from other farms and feedmill, slaughter plant, etc. $$$; +++; difficult to control over time.
Disposal of used litter away from all farms: $$; +++; difficult in high density regions.
Serologic monitoring: $$; +++; essential for regional level and farm level.
All-in, all-out production: $$; +++.
Introduction of new birds of known health status only:$; +++
Fence around premises: $$$;++
Gate at entrance of farm:$$; +++
Cost depends on quality; potential benefit dependents on compliance.
Sign advising to stay off farm if no authorization to enter:¢;+.
Parking area away from poultry barns: ¢; ++.
Requirements before a vehicle can enter:¢; +++.
Wash station for vehicles: $$; +++.
Use of locks for each poultry house: ¢; +++.
Dead bird disposal on farm: $$; +++.
Composting litter before removal: $; +++.
Removing litter after each flock: $$; +++
Downtime between flocks of at least 2 weeks: $; +++; can be expensive if much longer than 2 weeks but substantial benefits.
Pest control (rodents and insects):$; +++.
Access restricted if visitors
have been in contact with poultry: ¢; ++.
Shower in, shower out facilities: $$$; +++.
Coveralls provided by farm or requirement to wear clean coveralls: $; +++.
Clean rubber boots for all people on farm: $; +++.
Plastic boots for visitors: ¢; ++.
Changing clothing for employees leaving and returning to the farm on the same day: ¢; +++.
Auditing biosecurity rules: $; +++; compliance is critical for a biosecurity system.
The University of Alberta rewards excellence in teaching by individuals and groups. In the early fall of 2000 the seven person teaching team at the Alberta Poultry Research Centre received the award. This was the first time that the award has celebrated excellence in teaching at the group level.
To qualify, the teaching unit must have been in existence for at least three years. It may work at the graduate or undergraduate level and may include some or all members of a faculty, school, department or division, or may be an interdisciplinary team. Students taught by such a teaching unit must be able to identify results that they were taught by a group of instructors and not just a series of individuals.
The University of Alberta’s poultry group is made up of Dr. Gaylene Fasenko, Dr. John Feddes, Dr. Douglas Korver, Dr. Lynn McMullen, Dr. Robert Renema, Dr. Frank Robinson and Martin Zuidhof. To reflect their involvement with poultry, they are often referred to as the “Coop of Seven”.
Dr. Fasenko is a Research Associate, Avian Incubation and Embryology; Dr. Feddes is Professor, Animal Housing and Welfare; Dr. Korver is Assistant Professor, Poultry Nutrition; Dr. Renema a Research Associate, Avian Reproduction and Metabolism; Dr. McMullen is Assis-tant Professor, Food Microbiology; Dr. Robinson is Professor, Avian Physiology and Production; and Martin Zuidhof is the Poultry Specialist
with Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, who is working towards his PhD on bio-economic computer modelling of the broiler chicken supply chain. Details about the courses they teach, complete with colour graphics can be downloaded from the website: www.agric.gov.ab. ca/aprc/award.pdf.
In early 2000, the University of Alberta’s Student’s Union recognized three faculty members for their undergraduate teaching and mentorship skills. Two of the three—Professor Frank Robinson and Assistant Professor Doug Korver—were from the Poultry Group, which Dr. Ian Morrison, the Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, Forestry, and Home Economics described as, “A group of enthusiastic, committed and innovative educators who I take great pleasure in nominating for the ‘Teaching Unit Award’.”
The Coop of Seven’s award nomination also included letters of support from the provincial Department of Agriculture, Food And Rural Development, graduate and undergraduate students. It also listed the awards and certificates of excellence earned by those who had completed the Poultry Group’s courses.
Those letters of support included phrases such as, “awesome course,” “the highlight of my university career,” “unbelievable assistance,” “unprecedented enthusiasm,” “impressive team... committed faculty,” and “the entire Poultry Group is without peer.”
The Unit Teaching Award carries with it a monetary prize of $3,500. It is indicative of the broad support that the Poultry Group has earned over the years that this amount has been matched twice–by Alberta’s poultry industry (the chicken, egg, hatching egg and turkey producer associations) and by the Depart-ment of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta.
The Poultry Group has announced that these funds will be used to enhance their creative teaching efforts in the poultry area.
“What I’m doing is just from a farmer’s point of view, using trial and error. I want to improve my bottom line and I found that adding whole wheat to complete feed did that,” John Bartel told me. He added, “As one nutritionist in Germany told me, ‘We sometimes do not know why some things work … but one thing for sure the farmers here in Germany and Holland have proven to us that it does work’.”
Later, Bartel said that he’d found that he shouldn’t fluctuate the wheat percentage up and down. “Don’t jump around unless you have a good reason.”
John Bartel was a dairy producer in the Chilliwack, B.C. area for 23 years until he sold out seven years ago. He now holds a 42,000 roaster quota, although he also manages a 1,600 head, free range, white veal calf operation. When his transitional quota is added in, it means he grows around 50,000 birds per cycle on average. To date his experience with feeding whole wheat has produced results better than he originally expected.
About three years back Bartel came across references to the addition of whole wheat to chicken rations in an effort to improve bottom line results. He found some references to the practice on the Internet and also talked to some Alberta chicken producers who had been using the strategy for a couple of years. One source was an article by Carlyle Bennett, a poultry specialist with the Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Saskatchewan, now with the Manitoba Department of Agriculture. Some information from his most recent report and his contact information is shown at the end of this article.
Then, while accompanying his daughter on a school trip to Europe, he spent a free day visiting farms. One of them had been using wheat added to complete broiler feed for some time with excellent results. Bartel reported that some European processors pay a premium for birds that were not over-fat and that the addition of whole wheat to the ration helped meet that goal.
Fast Growth, But More Flips
“The genetics of modern birds produces fast growth but a higher rate of ‘flips’,” Bartel said. “But I was told that restricted feeding reduced mortality by 1% as well as reducing feed wastage, which improves the feed conversion.”
He said that he started using wheat quite tentatively, starting with 6% on day 10, increasing by one-half percent per day to a maximum of 20%, continued right through to marketing. He’s used various different programs since then, even starting the flock with wheat at five days—which didn’t seem to provide much benefit for him. He has increased the percentage of wheat by as much as 1% per day, but this is dependent upon the quality of the broiler ration. When the percentage of additional wheat reached the 45 to 50% level he found that the feed conversion suffered, providing no net benefit.
With a mixed roaster flock the pullets are shipped first and the males later. He was advised to cut the wheat off early because of the stress caused by loading the pullets. However, he now feeds the wheat straight through without any adverse affect on his contamination rate.
“I’ve found that I get the best results by starting the flock at 10% additional wheat at 10 days of age, increasing this slowly up to a maximum of 35% wheat and continuing at that level straight through to slaughter.” However Bartel cautioned, “But I must stress that this is what I’ve found suits me based on my trial and error process. If anybody else intends to try adding whole wheat to their chicken ration they would be well advised to start at a more tentative level and build up their own experience before using the higher rates.”
In Case Of Health Problems
I asked Bartel if he has a pre-planned strategy ready for use if his flock encounters a health problem—such as enteritis. He replied that he monitors his flock closely and although he’s never found it necessary, he is always prepared to back off from the addition of wheat by 20% immediately. He said that he’s found that the addition of wheat to his ration has actually reduced his wet litter problem significantly. “I haven’t encountered an enteritis or cocci problem during the 2-1/2 years that I’ve been adding whole wheat to the complete roaster or broiler ration.”
Flock health has improved during his trial of the addition of wheat to his chicken ration, “You know the difference when you walk in to the barn,” he said.
With condemnations Bartel said it is hard to tell because they fluctuate throughout the year. “My condemnation rate with roasters had been around 3-1/2%, but now it runs consistently below 3% and overall results fluctuate less from flock to flock. The condemnation rate with my broiler flocks has ranged from a low of 0.69% to a high of 1.47%.”
Bartel admits that growth rate slows when wheat is first added, “But their legs are stronger, mortality is lower and the growth rate catches up after about two weeks.” He added that the flock’s feed conversion may be slightly poorer, but is more than offset by the lower overall feed cost. “The odd flock seems to be a day behind in weight, but when the feed conversion stays about the same, what is one day? And the litter is so much drier.”
He provided results from three recent flocks. The females were shipped at from 38 to 43 days, weighing from 1.88 to 2.20 kg. with plant condemneds from 0.87 to 1.65%. The males from these flocks were shipped at from 52 to 61 days, weighing 3.12 to 3.84 kilograms. Condemnations varied from 1.95 to 2.98 %. Included in this figure was from 0.39 to 1.35% attributed to ascites and from 0.29 to 0.92% due to cellulitis. Leg deformities range from 0.08 to 0.65% (with the 61 day old flock). Overall flock mortality ranged from a low of 4.39 to a high of 6.27% in the roaster flocks and between 3.5% to 5.5% with broiler flocks.
Bartel adds his wheat using a computer controlled, in-line weigh scale supplied by Fancom. The Fancom FWBU.e computer can be programmed to start adding a specific percentage of whole wheat to the complete feed on a specific day and to increase that percentage at a specific rate per day. Both complete feed and whole wheat fall in to the Chore-Time auger feeder hopper simultaneously. No special mixing paddles are required to provide a good mix.
Each floor of Bartel’s 400’ x 40’ double deck barn is equipped with 13 Shenandoah natural gas brooders per floor. Each has two lines off Chore-Time feeders and four lines of Chore-Time nipple waterers. One waterer line is equipped with ordinary nipples, the other three lines with button nipple drinkers. Lights are controlled by a Fancom dusk to dawn dimmer. The Fancom computers control fans, heat, the vent openings as well as the feeding system. Of course, using both complete feed and whole wheat, he has two feed bins, a 32 ton bin for the complete feed and the 16 ton bin for the wheat.
Aside from the cost of the extra bin and supply auger, Canada Poultryman understands that the cost of computer control and galvanized in-line weigh scale is under $8,000. Bartel summarized, “Results have been beyond expectations and investment pay-back has been much quicker than the two years I expected.”
Carlyle D. Bennett, Poultry Specialist, Manitoba Animal Industry Branch presented research findings about the use of whole grain and high grain diets with broilers, leghorns and turkeys at the 1998 Poultry Service Industry Workshop at Banff in mid-1998.
That talk re-inforced John Bartel’s recommendation of caution when trying wheat addition strategies. Bennett reported that in the UK and The Nether-lands, broiler rations have been diluted with up to 20% whole wheat. He said that the digestion of whole wheat requires a larger, more muscular gizzard, which can only be deve-loped over time–possibly as much as six weeks for optimum development. In the interim, some loss in performance occurs until the gizzard does develop. The question is: does the early slaughter of broilers provide sufficient time for the bird to develop the larger gizzard and gain back the lost performance. Bennett states in his article: “…broilers should not be fed over 30% whole grain.”
However, Bennett’s summary states that University of Saskatchewan trials show statistically significant reductions in leg and skeletal problems in one broiler trial and one tom turkey trial. In those trials, early growth rates were slowed and the most noticeable benefit was fewer valgus varus leg deformities.
Some references to other research into the use of whole grains provided by Bennett included a report by Forbes and Covasa of Leeds University (UK) (World’s Poultry Science Journal, Vol. 51. July 1995). This report indicated that high fibre diets reduced the incidence of coccidiosis.
However, they were unable to demonstrate why a muscular, active gizzard was able to reduce the incidence of oocysts. Carlyle Bennett has advised that he is prepared to send this 16 page article by “pdf” file attached to an e-mail message to those who request it. A “pdf” file requires you to have Adobe Acrobat Reader–a freely available program from Adobe’s website.
Alternatively, he’ll mail you a copy. Contact Carlyle Bennett at: Manitoba Dept. of Agriculture, Animal Industry Branch, Agric. Services Complex, 204-545 University Cresc., Winnipeg, MB R3T 5S6, Phone: (204) 945-0381, Fax: (204) 945-4327, E-mail: CBennett@agr. gov.mb.ca
John Bartel alongside his computer controls in his barn. His home computer is also able to monitor barn operations by modem. The galvanized, in-line Fancom weigh scale is fed by augers from his broiler ration and whole wheat bins. Specific percentages of wheat and complete feed are dropped into the supply hopper below and automatically mix as they are augered away to the feed lines.
John’s seven year old doubledecker broiler barn, with two bins alongside for wheat and complete feed.
The past decade in animal health has been influenced by an increasing consumer awareness, especially in Europe. That trend resulting in large part from a much faster exchange of news and information, is expected to continue with the same intensity throughout North America.
Some trade barriers are rooted in real food safety concerns, basically because of fear, but the politicians have to be concerned on behalf of the electorate. Consumers demand more than testimonials from experts and scientists. Many are fed up with the cheapest possible products and insist on quality in every respect, a demand extending to animal health industries.
Drugs and pharmaceuticals will still be developed but we will see no further development of antibiotics for some time because of steadily rising costs. The last antibiotic used in both the human field and animal husbandry was fluroquinolones, which have come under severe attack, not only from small consumer groups but from independent scientists and established national authorities. Animal health companies would be wise to pull out of the large animal market since the human market is much more lucrative and prestigious. The Danish experience has shown that other measures such as improved hygienic measurements and feed will give the same result as antibiotic feed additives.
Prudent trend setters in agriculture have set up better disease control systems and herd health survey systems in their barns in co-operation with the veterinary society. Hopefully, the vet society is aware of its responsibilities and will continue to master applied science. HACCP is a beginning.
The European ban on growth hormones is generally supported by consumers, but is under attack from British scientists who question the reasons behind the ban. And if the consumer is in doubt, she will not buy the product.
Introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is largely blocked by European consumers, and a campaign against GMOs has been launched in Canada. U.S. consumers have largely ignored the debate in Europe, although a bill may soon be introduced that would require labeling on meat products. The Food and Drug Administration will also review its policy on genetically modified foods.
Animal Health companies in the biological business are relatively safe. The general trend is toward prophylaxes. Vaccines based on new biotechnology have already been developed; for example, vaccines
for E. coli, equine influenza, Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae, and Gumboro.
Marker vaccines that allow vaccination and eradication programs go hand in hand and we will probably see more of these. Conventionally developed vaccines, both live and killed, are generally of high standard and will continue to serve in the future. Biotechnology will help concentrate on specific attenuation and new ways of combining or compiling antigenic determinants for example, new combinations of
non-reactive Newcastle and a Marek’s disease vaccine are a possibility in the future.
What we probably will also see more of are vector vaccines, i.e. vaccines using a carrier virus with no pathogenecity to carry the wanted immunological determinants into the animal’s immunological system. This has already been introduced in small animal vaccines.
New carrier and delivery systems are being worked on. The most recent progress in modern vaccine technology is with intradermal or intramuscular application of so-called naked DNA. Much more work will be done on bacterial and protozoal disease protection using the new techniques.
Much of today’s work is focused on salmonella vaccines of different kinds and constructed in different ways. Salmonella is a disease which is here to stay and will continue as a potential threat to human food safety. Coccidiosis vaccines are used today only in breeders because of the cost, but will be tailor-made for the large broiler segment.
Presented at the Poultry Industry Council Poultry Health Conference in Kitchener, Ont.
Cereals provide much of the energy in poultry feeds, corn in the US and parts of Canada, wheat in Western Canada, parts of Europe, and Australia. The cost of feed energy (apparent Metabolizable Energy, AME) is the single greatest cost of poultry production, and the amount of energy in a cereal is essential knowledge for adequate poultry nutrition.
Feed mills use a process called “least-cost formulation” to calculate which ingredients to use in a mixed feed and in what proportions. This ensures that the requirements of the specific type of bird are met at the minimum cost. To use least-cost formulation, nutritionists need values for the requirements of the bird, the cost of the available ingredients, and their nutrient contents. Despite changes in production due to genetic selection, nutrient requirements are fairly well understood. Ingredient costs can change rapidly, but their calculation is direct. A weak link in the chain of least-cost formulation is the determination of the nutrient content of some ingredients, particularly in the energy content of cereals other than corn.
The US National Research Council (NRC, 1994) provides the nutrient contents of many feed ingredients, including wheat, and these values are commonly used for feed formulation. NRC provides two energy values for wheat: 2,900 kcal/kg for hard red winter wheat (3,330 kcal/kg on a dry matter basis), and 3,120 kcal/kg (3,510 kcal/kg on a dry matter basis) for soft white winter wheat. What happens if these values are wrong? If the values are too low, feed will be over-formulated and the extra energy will increase the cost of the feed. If they are too high, feed will be under-formulated and performance may be compromised. Either way, the producer has less control of the feeding program.
There has been a feeling in Western Canada that the values provided by NRC for the energy in wheat are too low. It is known that both the genotype (cultivar) and the environment in which the wheat is grown affect the AME value. The AME of wheat was investigated by Dr. Tom Scott at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Center (PARC) in Agassiz, in collaboration with H. L. Classen, M. L. Swift, and M. R. Bedford in a study funded by The Alberta Barley Commission, The Canadian Wheat Board, Finnfeeds International, IRAP/NSERC, The BC Broiler Chicken Marketing Board, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
Using a bioassay for broilers that was developed at PARC, Dr. Scott measured the energy derived from 108 samples of wheat of nine different varieties grown in three locations in Western Canada over a two-year period. This bioassay measures not only the AME of the sample, but also the viscosity of the intestinal contents of birds fed the cereal (measured as centipoise), and their performance. The intestinal viscosity is measured to determine the anti-nutritive effects of soluble non-starch polysaccharides (NSP), which wheat contains. High levels of NSP produce a viscous solution in the gut that interferes with digestion, especially in young birds, and produces sticky droppings. Enzymes can be added to the feed to counteract these effects, and because this practice has become widespread, it was done for one-half of each of the samples.
As expected, both the year and the specific growing environment affected the feeding value of the samples. The growing environment is difficult to control, and knowing that there are differences simply points out that routine tests may be necessary. Knowing the effect of the cultivar is more useful. Table 1 shows the nine cultivars of wheat tested along with the class of wheat to which they belong. Durum wheat is primarily used in the production of pasta, Canadian Prairie Spring (CPS) cultivars (Glenlea is actually considered a feed wheat) are used extensively in animal feed, and Hard Red Spring (HRS) wheat is traditionally valued the most because of the high protein content.
Table 1 (below) also shows that both the digesta viscosity of the broilers and the AME obtained were dramatically different for these nine wheat cultivars. With no enzyme supplementation, digesta viscosity was lowest for the Durum wheat varieties and highest for the HRS varieties. Enzyme supplementation dramatically reduced the intestinal viscosity and the anti-nutritive properties of the NSP. It also removed much of the difference between the cultivars. Along with the differences in intestinal viscosity, there were marked differences in the AME extracted by the birds and without enzyme, there was about a 10% difference between the highest and lowest values. The AME values for the Durum varieties were well above those given by NRC. With enzyme supplementation, all nine cultivars had AME contents that were higher than either value provided by NRC. Even with enzyme supplementation, Durum cultivars still contained more than 100 kcal/kg more energy than other cultivars.
Table 1. The digesta viscosity and AME for nine cultivars of wheat in diets with and without enzyme supplementation.
Digesta Viscosity (centipoise) AME (kcal/kg)
|Cultivar1||No Enzyme||Enzyme||No Enzyme||Enzyme|
|CDC Teal (HRS)||18.8c||3.8bc||3460bc||3620bc|
a-e Means within followed by no common letter are significantly different at P < 0.05.
1CPS is Canadian prairie spring wheat, DUR is durum wheat, and HRS is hard red spring wheat.
How does this relate to broiler performance? Table 2 (below) confirms what was seen above in Table 1. There were significant differences between cultivars, with the Durum wheat cultivars producing the heaviest broilers at 17 days, and doing it most efficiently. Enzyme supplementation significantly improved performance and it reduced the difference between cultivars.
Table 2. Performance of chicks fed nine cultivars of wheat in diets with and without enzyme supplementation.
17-day Body weight (g) Feed:Gain Ratio (g:g)
|Cultivar1||No Enzyme||Enzyme||No Enzyme||Enzyme|
|CDC Teal (HRS)||346de||370c||1.61bc||1.53ab|
a-f Means within followed by no common letter are significantly different at P < 0.05.
1CPS is Canadian prairie spring wheat, DUR is durum wheat, and HRS is hard red spring wheat.
These data reflect several problems with current feed formulation when wheat is the major energy source. The wheat cultivars differed considerably. Durum wheat is likely undervalued for growing broilers, the CPS cultivars had lower energy values than other types, and the HRS cultivars produced the highest intestinal viscosity. When wheat-based diets are supplemented with enzymes to reduce the effects of NSP, the AME values reported by NRC are too low. This could result in over-formulation and increased feed costs.
It seems clear from these data that when using least-cost formulation of broiler diets, feed mills should consider the cultivar of wheat being used and whether it will be supplemented with enzyme.
National Research Council, 1994. Nutrient Requirements of Poultry. 9th ed.
National Academy Press, Washington, DC. Scott, T. A., F. G. Silversides, H. L. Classen, M. L. Swift and M. R. Bedford, 1998.
Effect of cultivar and environment on the feeding value of Western Canadian wheat and barley samples with and without enzyme supplementation. Can. J. Anim. Sci., in press.
Dr. F. G. Silversides is a scientific writer living on Denman Island, British Columbia, Canada.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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".
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.
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.
- "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).
- "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 –
- Insoluble Grit – useful for its mechanical effects in the gizzard
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the strictest sense artificial lights do not increase annual egg production, but merely influence the distribution of production, which makes it possible to get more eggs during the fall and early winter period of normally highest prices. For this reason, use of artificial lights can be planned to give desired results, dependent upon egg sales for market or hatching purposes.
It is usually unwise to light a flock of pullets being kept as a hatching flock, because the resulting stimulation of fall and winter production is made at the expense of a somewhat lower level of production in the early spring, when hatching egg demand is greatest.
Old Hens Under Lights
The lighting of the laying flock beginning in mid-August or early September is one example of greater production control that enables more net earnings. Lighting of old hens at this time, beginning at 4:00 a.m., makes it possible to postpone molt for a large portion of the flock and extend production for 45 to 60 days into the period of higher prices.
This practice as particular merit this year for the poultry raiser who wants to take advantage of price conditions to get the most net income from his production.
The smaller hatches this past spring and higher feed costs, which usually mean later maturing pullets and delaying fall production, all add up to strong demand and rising prices, and these extra eggs from old birds will mean greater income.
This result of artificial lighting is based upon findings of the Kansas State College of Agriculture and Ohio State University. Experiments established the fact that production increase was due to stimulation of the pituitary gland by the infra-red light rays. This stepped up glandular activity resulted in greater egg production, which brought about higher feed requirements and consumption. These facts made it possible to discard the earlier explanation of higher production due to a longer feeding period and greater feed intake.
Aside from this common use of lights for stimulating egg production during the fall and winter months numerous other values can put extra dollars in the poultry raiser's pocket.
Artificial lights may be used to reduce early chick and poultry mortality, to bring turkey breeder flocks into production more uniformly, and to increase the number of turkey hatching eggs produced per hen by approximately 10 eggs in the average season. They may be used to moderate the effects of extremely hot, as well as cold weather. Late hatched pullets can be brought into production earlier and at heavier weights, and late molting, "cream of the crop," breeder hens can be hastened into production to obtain hatching eggs earlier in the spring.
The research department of one prominent feed company has established a close relationship between the interval of time between hatching and the beginning of feeding and watering of turkey poults and livability and weight of these poults at 6 weeds of age.
Livability ranged from 91.7 per cent, when feeding was begun within 24 hours, to the lower figure of 73.7 per cent when delayed until 72 hours after hatching. The same experience is also common with baby chicks. Since time is so important, the use of all-night lights in the brooder house frequently makes it possible to shorten this hatching-to-feeding interval and to make added use of these critical "starting period" hours. This, in part at least, will offset the effects of unavoidable delay in getting chicks and poults on feed. Brighter lights, that is 40 t 60 watt bulbs, may be used for this purpose, to be followed, after 3 or 4 days, by 7 ½, 10, or 15 watt bulbs, which also aid in avoiding piling and loss from smothering if brooder temperatures accidently range too high or low.
Missouri College of Agriculture experimental results show that rate of chick growth is definitely retarded during hot summer weather. This is likewise true of turkey poults, though perhaps to a lesser degree.
Lights for Growth
Producers in the western and southern portions of the country, where daytime temperatures, for days on end range in the upper 90's or higher, have found that the use of dim – 10 to 15 watt – all-night lights in the brooder house helps to maintain growth. Feed and water consumption during the cooler night portion of each 24 hour period equals that of the daytime period and helps keep poults and chicks growing at or near the optimum rate through the 8th to 12th weeks.
Turkey Hatching Eggs in 30 Days
Turkey breeder hens that are approximately 7 months of age can be brought into production rather uniformly within 30 days after they are placed under artificial lights.
This fact proved important this past season to George Lewis of Quinlin, Okla. Mr. Lewis' flock of 400 breeders, which were lighted during the last few days of December, began laying in late January and continued to lay at a 50 per cent or better rate until sold on April 29th. Mr. Lewis sums up his first experience with artificial lights by saying that he sold 12 extra eggs per hen over the previous year in a season when hatching egg demand ceased 30 days earlier than in 1945.
Applying Lighting Principles
In stimulating egg production, intensity of light is the important consideration along with flock comfort. A safe rule is that of providing one 40 watt lamp for each 200 sq. ft. of floor space. The light should be located about 6 ft. from the floor and equipped with shallow reflectors 12 to 14 inches in diameter, to insure illumination of roosts as well as feeders and water fountains.
If reflectors are not provided, larger bulbs – at least 60 watts – are helpful. Much of the value of artificial lighting may be lost unless these principles are followed.
Intensity of light appears to affect turkey breeding flock production to a greater extent than is true with chickens. For this reason, 60 watt bulbs for turkeys more nearly insure desired results.
Flock comfort is important, and housing requirements vary with climactic conditions. In the southern climates where winters are mild, turkeys can be successfully lighted in a protected shed that is entirely open on the south. Some growers, with out door roosts, have successfully used flood lights mounted on poles 10 or more feet above the ground. These are arranged to light the roosts, feeders, and water fountains. Lighting is usually delayed approximately 30 days beyond the time when they might be used with greater housing protection from severe weather, which is generally of short duration.
Turkey breeder hens respond to light stimulus about 2 or 3 weeks sooner than the toms. For this reason, fertility must be protected in these first eggs by lighting toms 2 weeks before the lights are used on the hens, if both sexes are of the same age. Oklahoma College of Agriculture results indicate that toms that are from an earlier hatch, and consequently 30 or more days older than the hens, do not require this special consideration.
Begin Lights Gradually
Lighting of laying flocks should be started gradually and the lighting period lengthened 10 to 15 minutes per day until a 13 or 14-hour total light or feeding period is attained. Once begun, lighting should be continued until normal daylight approaching this number of hours prevails.
The use of automatic time switches in turning on the lights in the laying house will be found helpful. It avoids the necessity of being present in the house to turn on the lights. When an automatic time switch is used, provision must be made the night before – in the case of early morning lights – to have water available as soon as the birds come down from the roosts. This means, in wintertime, having water heated in the fountains.
Feed and Water Important
Satisfactory results, that is, higher production and an increased or maintained rate of growth, are related to higher feed intake. For this reason, the feed supply must be adequate and readily available. The water supply is of equal importance. During the winter months, provision must be made for an abundant water supply with a temperature range of 55 to 65 degrees F. Unless the chill is removed from the water and the supply is adequate, the results are likely to be disappointing.
National Poultry Digest from A.P. Journal
Coccidiosis as a severe disease is largely due to the development of specialized poultry raising. Responsible for it are: (1) the large rearing unit; (2) limited range; (3) continuously used range; (4) proximity of poultry farms and (5) increased trafficking in fowls.
His statement does not signify that specialized poultry farming is doomed to failure because of coccidiosis. It does, however, emphasize the necessity of recognizing the importance of this problem and becoming adequately informed.
The Cause – A small parasite distinguishable only under the microscope has been established beyond question as the cause of coccidiosis. Various forms of mismanagement or feeding of the flock, resulting in lowered vigor, are often regarded as primary factors in the production of the disease, but erroneously so. There is so much experimental and field evidence to disprove these assumptions, that they would not be worthy of mention here if it were not for the fact that many interested in poultry still cling to such misconception. It should be obvious that these muddle the situation and stand in the way of successful control.
Kinds of Coccidiosis – At least six kinds of coccidian are found in chickens, five of which affect particularly the small intestine and one the ceca and rectum. One is capable of causing severe bleeding from the ceca and the rectum, another from the small intestine. The remaining four as a rule cause slight or no bleeding, but do cause excessive amounts of mucous or slime in the small intestine and droppings.
The Nature of the Parasite and the Disease – When the fowl eats contaminated material the parasite gains entrance and passes into the intestines. In the meantime the parasite undergoes various changes and finally emerges in an egg form, or what is known as an oocyst. It then passes out in the droppings. This stage is not capable of producing disease. The fresh droppings from an infected fowl will not produce coccidiosis.
After being passed in the droppings, the oocyst undergoes a change, it proper conditions of moisture, air and temperature are provided. At this stage the parasite is capable of producing disease.
About four to six days, depending upon the kind of coccidiosis present, are necessary for the parasite to attain much development after being consumed. During the succeeding few days, heavily infected fowls discharge millions of oocysts in the droppings and thus expose others to infection.
Severity of the Disease Dependent Upon Number of Parasites Consumed – The number of oocysts consumed determines the severity of the disease. Fowls infected with small numbers appear perfectly healthy. Young fowls infected with a large number for the first infection regularly die with the disease in the case of the bloody types. Older fowls may show considerable cecal hemorrhage or bleeding and recover, but are not so likely to recover with small-intestine infection accompanied by bleeding. The fact that severity of the disease is determined by the number of coccidia is of considerable importance, as it means that reducing the number serves as a control measure. This is accomplished by sanitation. Since the oocysts pass out in greatest numbers during the first week after symptoms develop, the value of frequent cleaning during that period is obvious.
Method of Distribution – The parasite may be carried mechanically on the shoes, by flies, birds, used brooder equipment, which has not been thoroughly cleaned, streams, or irrigation ditches. Used unsterilized feed sacks may also act as a carrier, but are probably not a frequent source. In other instance the purchase of infected fowls is a source of infection. It is highly important to remember that mature fowls provide a very likely source of infection for your stock on the same farm. Droppings from the mature fowls, adhering to the attendant’s shoes, perhaps afford the most common means of carrying the parasite to the brooder stock.
Seasonal Conditions exercise a distinct influence on the development of coccidiosis. This is due to the fact that moisture and warmth provided during the spring and summer months permit of rapid and regular development of the oocyst to the stage, which is capable of producing the disease. Therefore, it more frequently occurs in severe form at such times. It is possible for severe coccidiosis to develop during the winter. When this occurs the source of infective oocysts is likely to be soil or material contaminated during the warm season or contaminated material during the warm season or contaminated material kept warm by the brooder stove.
Symptoms and Diagnosis – The symptoms in many cases of coccidiosis may not differ from those of a number of other diseases. This is particularly true when moderate infection exists. Where very mild infection occurs there may be no outward evidence. These cases can be diagnosed only with the aid of a microscope. There are times, however, when the average poultry raiser could hardly be mistaken in making a diagnosis.
Severe sudden outbreaks of cecal and sometimes small intestine coccidiosis are accompanied by the passage of distinct amounts of pure blood in the droppings. Young fowls affected with severe coccidiosis may die suddenly, without any symptoms having been noticed other than a pale comb, and a slight amount of blood on the vent fluff. Fowls dying under such circumstances may be in perfect flesh and show no symptoms until a few hours before death. They should be examined and the condition of the intestines noted. Such fatal cases of coccidiosis will often show the ceca or blind intestines bulging with pure blood, or in other instances such material will occur in the small intestine usually some distance below the gizzard. When the small intestine is so affected, it is common for it to be distinctly enlarged where the infection is most severe.
If the infection is moderately severe, the fowl will usually be droopy for several days up to a week or two, lose weight, and die during this period, or gradually show less symptoms and possible come back to normal weight. When many fowls in growing flocks appear droopy, and no other cause for disease can be determined, it is usually the safest plan to conclude that coccidiosis is the cause the apply sanitation accordingly.
Effect Upon Fowls of Laying Age – Fowls, which have not been infected during the rearing period, may be disastrously affected in the laying-house. Such flows consuming large doses of coccidia may show a slight to complete lack of egg production with six kinds of coccidiosis.
Coccidiosis and Paralysis – Paralysis is not infrequently stated to be brought on by coccidiosis. Since coccidiosis is so widespread it is not at all surprising that the two are frequently found in the same fowl. This does not signify that paralysis is due to coccidiosis. Paralyzed fowls may show large numbers of coccidia or none at all. This does not prove that coccidia are or are not the cause of paralysis. Fowls, which are free from coccidiosis, may have been infected in the past and in fowls, which are infected the parasites, may have no relationship to the paralysis. Substantial evidence at hand contradicts the hypothesis that paralysis is due to coccidia.
Prevention – “Sanitation is the foundation of coccidiosis control…. The inauguration of sanitary measures on an economic basis cannot be expected totally to eliminate coccidium infection, but they should result in holding infection down to a low degree, and permit of successful rearing.” These statements, made a number of years ago, are still consistent with the known facts.
Rearing fowls absolutely free of coccidiosis is highly undesirable if they are later to be kept under average commercial flock conditions. Such fowls would then be disastrously affected, so far as mortality and egg production are concerned, if they obtain large numbers of the parasite. Management factors, which allow the fowls to consume small doses during the growing period, are more likely to prove satisfactory. This by no means constitutes a recommendation for the use of methods generally recognized as insanitary.
Soil Conditions – Well-drained soil provides the most suitable land. This type dries out more readily and therefore assists in preventing development of the oocyst. Those, which do develop, are likely to die more quickly in dry soils than in damp soils.
The common practice of plowing the yard and growing a crop is to be recommended, but this cannot be relied upon to rid the soil of all coccidia. Annual plowing and leaving the yards idle for three or four years will probably result in practically all of the oocysts being destroyed since they would, during such time, be subjected to drying, which is very destructive to them. Where only one or two yards are provided, it is perhaps best not to plow at all, but to sweep the yards and haul the sweepings away. Plowing or spading the yards during an outbreak only serves to encourage the disease.
Types of Brooding and Equipment – The colony brooder, which is moved to new land, offers one means of controlling coccidiosis. Until recent years it has been the most accepted method of brooding to control intestinal parasites. This method has the disadvantage of high labor cost.
The permanently located brooder provides a particularly desirable type of brooding from the standpoint of convenience and labor. It is frequently open to objection because of its tendency to aggravate the development of coccidiosis.
In order to overcome the objection to the permanently located brooder, because of its favoring intestinal parasitic diseases, an artificial yard is sometimes used. This commonly consists of concrete or wire netting. Such a yard preferably extends the length of the brooder. It may be up to about 20 feet in width. The wire yard does not require frequent cleaning. While the concrete yard requires more frequent cleaning, it gives some opportunity for the fowls to acquire coccidial infection in mild form and to develop immunity. Having such a yard permits of cleaning it as thoroughly as the house and with slight labor. It is desirable to have the concrete yard sloped about eight to ten inches away from the brooder. It may be covered with sand or not, as desired.
One should not conclude that the concrete yard itself eliminates the losses. It merely provides suitable conditions for assisting in prevention and particularly for control when a severe outbreak occurs. It also assists in controlling other intestinal parasite diseases, especially roundworms and some tapeworms. As soon as brooding is completed, the fowls should be moved to range houses provided with wire floors high enough to prevent access to the droppings.
Drinking vessels placed on wire-covered or slatted frames will prevent access to moist places and will prevent the birds from consuming moist droppings. Wire floors over the entire brooder floor are undesirable. Coccidiosis may be entirely prevented by such equipment and if the fowls are placed on litter or soil later, serious coccidiosis may result. If one must resort to the use of such equipment to control coccidiosis, it would perhaps be preferable to go out of the business.
Range Conditions – Flocks on range present a difficult situation when seriously affected with the disease. Under such circumstances the houses should be moved farther apart to provide to flows with increase range. This reduces the degrees of contamination in the soil and accordingly the possibility of severe infection.
Treatment is of secondary importance, and can be recommended only as a means of making the best of an already bad situation, not as a routine preventive. Coccidiosis occurs in spite of any treatment, which has been reported. Feeding a ration consisting of about 20 per cent powered skim milk or buttermilk assist s in controlling cecal coccidiosis accompanied by blood. When this amount of dried mil is given, an ample supply of water must be provided, as considerably more is consumed than normally. It is advisable also to provide more driking space.
Control of Sudden, Severe Outbreak – When outbreaks of this nature occur involving bleeding from the ceca, the above mentioned milk feeding is advised to be continued for a week or ten days. Milk feeding may have no value for the control of coccidiosis of the small intestine. Its use offers definite objections from the standpoint of causing the droppings to become more liquid, thus favoring development of the oocysts in the litter. The following, which is essentially the so-called “Wisconsin” ration, may be used as an all-mash ration for the control of cecal infection:
Ingredients Parts by weight
Ground yellow corn 80
Wheat middlings 20
Bone meal 5
Limestone grit 5
Fine salt 1
Dried milk (skim or buttermilk) 30
Daily cleaning of the house is an advantage and the yard should be swept daily until marked improvement in the flock results.
If the weaker fowls are separated from the others, they do much better, the deaths are less, and the well fowls are less likely to become infected.
Moist places frequently occur where the fowls drink. Special precautions are taken to eliminate these moist places during warm weather and near the brooder stove at all times.
Flocks showing a severe outbreak can sometimes be handled to advantage by taking the cockerels out and placing them in fattening crates with wire bottoms so that the droppings pass through and cannot be reached by the fowls. This management alone will prevent further losses other than those already severely infected.
Additional heat is necessary during acute outbreaks, particularly when feeding liberally of milk or milk products. More careful observation is necessary to prevent losses due to huddling.
There is no more interesting chapter in the history of the rise of the poultry industry than the sensational progress made by the people of Japan. The records show that they accomplished more over there in the five-year period 1925-1930 than we have in this century to date. Of course, the alert Japanese learned much from us when in 1927 and 1928 they came over to inspect and study the methods that were responsible for the world’s record stock of British Columbia and the Pacific States to the south. Encouraged and assisted by a sympathetic and progressive government with a real policy of improvement, they were not slow to secure the very best of the high record bloodlines of this continent. They accomplished this because they were willing to pay a good price for stock. Through the government farms and departments of agriculture and education in Japan this blood was multiplied and distributed to the farmers on such a comprehensive scale as to literally transform the poultry keeping from and insignificant sideline in farming into one of the most important branches of agriculture.
Figures from official records indicate an increase of 12 million head of high producing poultry in the country from 1927 to 1932. Egg production itself was raised from an average of 107.2 eggs to 122.8 in the same period. This the highest average secured in any country in the world. Higher averages are obtained in some districts but not over a nation as a whole. This is all the more remarkable when it is considered that the poultry population of Japan still includes a considerable proportion of the native breeds like the Nagoya and other less productive ones. Such production is pretty certain proof of the efficiency of the methods practiced in Japan. As a matter of fact there appears little doubt that these thorough going people have learned practically all that Occidentals had to teach them and “then some”. Ample evidence now exists to show that in ne important new art the Japanese are three years ahead of the poultrymen in this country. This discovery is the determination of the sex of baby chicks by differences in the rudimentary copulative organs, or particularly the cloaca.
The Japanese got into the same trouble as our poultrymen with regard to surplus Leghorn broilers. Conditions in Japan were ever worse in this respect than in this country in 1929. There was practically no market over there for the tremendous numbers of these young cockerels produced through the rapid increase of the Leghorn breed in connection with the government’s big ten year program for increased production. Japanese scientists came to the rescue as they perfected their technique in sex determination. As far back as 1925 Dr. Masui of the Veterinary Division of the University of Tokio published a report of certain differences that he discovered in male and female chicks. When more advanced work was reported in a paper on “The Rudimentary Copulatory Organs of the Male Domestic Fowl and the Difference of the Sexes of Chickens” world wide interest was created in the important discovery. It was not considered to be feasible, however, from a commercial standpoint and also because of the time required to examine the chicks and the danger of injuring the young bird in the process.
It was not known by Dr. Masui or his co-workers in the early stages that chick sexing could be made practical for hatcheries or poultrymen. However, through the indomitable application of such practical pioneers as Kojima the practice was found to be commercially feasible. By intensive study of Dr. Masui’s method and the examination of the copulative organs of older chicks of 60 days of age he became familiar with the differences in the sexes. By comparing the organs of younger 30 days old and still younger chicks Kojima gradually improved his technique and familiarity with the organs and their differences to a point where he could distinguish the sexes at a day old. He also became able, through continued practice over a six months period during which he handled and examined thousands of chicks of different ages to make the examinations and decisions quickly.
Many others, like Sakajiyama have followed the example set by Kojima and have become practical teachers of Dr. Masui’s method of chick sexing. Meanwhile, Dr. Masui and Dr. Hashimoto have carried on their research on differences in different breeds and strains of chicks and other phases. The most recent findings are embodied in a book, which is now in the press. The previous classifications showing the different types of male and female chicks according to the presence or absence of genital eminence in the cloaca, as described in the Japanese textbook, are presented for students in the New Edition in the English translation.
Introduction of Chick Sexing into America
Considerable skepticism existed in England and on this continent regarding the commercial feasibility of chick sexing until recently when the Japanese expert Yogo gave his practical demonstrations. In Japan, the work, which has been developing ever since Kojima had such success in 1929-1930, is now carefully regulated for the most part by important organizations. The chief of these is the Japan Sex Propagate Association which consists of important scientists and officials in Japan, and which has received strong support from the Japan Poultry Journal. Mr. Takahashi, the owner and publisher of the Journal and an important teacher and investigator in his country, is president of the association, and Mr. Yamaguch, who is so well known in this country, and who is associate editor of the journal, is a director. The sexing experts themselves make up the principal rank and file membership in this professional organization.
Chick sexing in Japan is on a well organized educational and professional basis. Training schools have been conducted there for years in important poultry and hatchery centres. Students train for diplomas of third, second and first class Standards. Beginning with Thirds they gradually work up to the higher efficiency of speed and accuracy. A good many fail to qualify but already there are over 100 experts holding First Class Certificates in Japan. These men and women (there are 30 duly qualified young women experts in Japan) have shown in examinations that they can sex chicks at the minimum rate of 100 Leghorn chicks in 30 minutes, and with an accuracy of over 92 per cent. Most of them exceed these marks, especially after practice. The hatcheries employing such experts may safely guarantee that the sex of the chicks sold as pullets will be 90 per cent correct.
Although chick sexing was bound to be shown in this country soon, it was fortunate that the progressive Chick Sexing Propagate Association donated as a prize to the Grand Champion chick sexer of Japan a free trip to America. The Central Contests are held every year in Japan to stimulate competition and create interest in the outlying districts where the preliminary contests are held. Under the management and direction of Mr. Yamaguch, as is so well known now, demonstrations were arranged for and held this last spring at the University of B.C., Oregon Agricultural College, University of California and many hatcheries in different centres on the Pacific coast.
Every practical poultryman who does not cater to a special meat market knows what a nuisance the young cockerels are. The extra equipment, heat, space, labor and feed required just to rear to the age where sex can be detected, or they are fit to be “shot” into the market makes if a very expensive proposition. The expense appears to be superfluous, too.
If the cockerels could be marketed at a fair price when they were ready the trouble would be worth while. Even then their very presence would militate against the welfare of the pullets. So few commercial poultrymen, especially egg producers, make anything out of broilers that the more completely and the sooner they can be removed from the flocks the better.
It is from the standpoint of disease and the added menace brought about by brooding and rearing two chickens where only one is needed or ought to be that the greatest advantage would appear to accrue from chick sexing. The evils of overcrowding, in its stunting effects on birds, the unfair chance that the pullets have in competition with the more vigorous cockerels for feed; the feather eating, cannibalism, piling up; greater danger of infection from B.W.D., Coccidiosis, worms and paralysis and many more sanitary conditions or the absolute reduction of numbers as a safeguard. Chick sexing, which permits the egg producer to purchase just what he wants, viz., pullet chicks, looms up as a very useful aid in management problems and fighting the disease menace.
A New Profession
Boys and girls between the ages of 18 and 24, according to experience in Japan, will be attracted into this new and lucrative profession. A little calculation will show their earning possibilities with fees at one cent a chick, and experts capable of sexing from 3000 to 5000 a day.
While these laboratory demonstrations were eminently successful in showing the extreme accuracy and speed with which chick sexing could be done by a first class expert of Yogo’s caliber, the practical work done for hatcheries was still more convincing. The star example was at the Bolivar Hatcheries where 25,000 chicks were sexed by Yogo in four days. A check of these birds at 5 and 6 weeks revealed only 39 cockerel chicks out of one large lot of 11,800 pullets or an error of less than one third of 1 per cent or an accuracy of 99.7 per cent, which is incredibly high. In the case of the cockerels the error was less than 1 per cent. It is reported that one poultryman who purchased 2000 sexed cockerel chicks and who expected to do well on the deal wasn’t so enthusiastic about it when he finally counted all of the pullets, which he could find.
In one lot of 500 sexed cockerels kept and fed by the Washington Co-operative Hatchery at Bellingham, one lone pullet was discovered later. In answer to a questionnaire sent out by the Co-op. to six of its members who had purchased sexed pullet chicks (2850 in number) the losses in brooding were found to be very light. The customers were well satisfied with the chicks and the majority were enthusiastic about chick sexing, promising to purchase nothing but sexed pullet chicks next season if they were available.
A very successful demonstration was given at the International Baby Chick Convention at Grand Rapids, Michigan, on August 8th, last, before over 1000 commercial poultrymen of U.S. and Canada. Before this assembly Yogo sexed 100 chicks with 100 per cent accuracy and on the speed test he sexed 200 chicks in 13 minutes and 27 seconds. A profound impression was created in the minds of these progressive hatcherymen, and a good many of whom turned out more than a million chicks in a year and who are appreciative of the importance of such a revolutionary practice. It was impossible to satisfy the demand or the demonstration and reservations were made by the hatcherymen for all available experts for the coming season.
Service to the Industry
It is not necessary to dwell upon the surplus broiler problem at this time. The writer has found it to be even more serious in other parts of this continent than in British Columbia. Poultrymen everywhere have sought to be relieved of it for years. Breeding sex-linked varieties has in some places been adopted to enable the detection and separation of the male from the female as baby chicks. This practice has attained considerable vogue in England and in the New England States. It does not meet the situation, however, on a large scale and leaves the White Leghorn entirely out of its sphere.
While records as high as 8,000 to 10,000 chicks have been made by experts in Japan, a good commercial average would be 4,000 to 5,000 chicks in an eight hour day. The work requires concentrated scrutiny of the eyes and exacting technique of the hands so that excessive speed is hard on the operator and does not make for the highest accuracy. In a hatching season approximately 100 days at least 300,000 could be handled by one expert.
An important part of the technique is the way in which the chick is held. The chick should be held firmly but softly so that the fingers and hand may be coordinated as light pressure is applied to the abdomen of the chick and the cloaca inverted and its folds exposed. The genital eminence of the male can be seen as a whitish projection when the vent has been properly opened, whereas in the female the folds and membrane do not show such a raised organ. Since the vent is very small and folds smaller very sharp eyes and strong eyesight are necessary. Whereas young people of from 18 to 24 years generally have the keenest eyesight and have the best chances of success in learning the art, it was really older men who perfected the art in Japan. Anyone with keen senses of touch and eyesight may become proficient. In any case it requires much practice, the use of many chicks and continuous reference to the text book to attain efficiency in separating the sexes.
Chick sexing has made its debut in this country and proves its worth at once. Henceforth it will be possible through its adoption by hatcherymen to supply poultrymen with the pullet or cockerel chicks as required. Poultrymen will produce better pullets at lower cost even when they pay twice as much for pullet chicks as for mixed chicks. The destruction of many young broilers will relieve the broiler market and permit of better prices for all market chickens. Broiler specialists will supply the market with chickens of better quality. Everyone concerned will benefit from the adoption of chick sexing, and work with good remuneration will be provided for many of our Canadian young men and women. Millions of extra chicks will be required too for the schools. It all looks like good business for the poultry industry.
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Western Meeting of Poultry Clinicians and PathologistsWed May 17, 2017
B.C. Poultry SymposiumThu May 18, 2017
Turkey Academy 2017Thu Jun 01, 2017 @ 8:30AM - 02:30PM
Canadian Meat Council 97th Annual ConferenceMon Jun 05, 2017