Although proper farming and biosecurity practices are extremely important, one factor that plays a significant role throughout the turkey’s development cycle often gets overlooked – its genetics.

Dr. Ben Wood, a geneticist with Hybrid Turkeys who spoke about turkey genetics at the Poultry Industry Council’s Spring Symposium on May 8, 2012, says that one of the most important aspects of turkey production is carefully selecting genetic traits to get the most out of each individual bird for the producer. But, it is more complicated than simply breeding two good-looking turkeys together.

Although selecting for increasing resistance to deadly pathogens, such as Salmonella or Campylobacter, may sound like an easy choice, Wood says that which traits are selected is ultimately decided by economics, and traits such as breast meat yield, finishing weight and overall meat yield are more economically important in comparison to overall mortality.

“We have to balance what we are selecting for,” he says. “It is quite easy and possible to select for health traits, but the economic return isn’t there. You could select for a lot of resistance, but you will have to give up selecting some other traits.”

By selecting for health traits, Wood explained that other commercial traits (such as meat yield) would not be able to respond as strongly to selection pressure, which would make them less desirable for farmers to grow.
“Producers will need to make a decision on what they are willing to sacrifice for specific traits.”

Genetics is key

Every trait has a specific heritability (or ability to be managed by artificial selection), which is determined by evaluating the interaction between the genetics of the individual and those of the environment. Although some traits, such as varus/valgus deformity and leg strength, have a very high heritability (between 30 and 40 per cent), overall survival is much lower, at about 10 per cent. That means that survival is much more influenced by environment factors than by leg strength.

“Survival is difficult to manage because of the low heritability, but it is fairly easy to measure, as what you are measuring is ‘did a bird live to or die at a certain age’ – so the cost of measuring that trait is pretty cheap,” Wood says. “But, if you are talking about a trait like varus/valgus of the legs, it is pretty easy to see, manage and measure. It is also highly heritable, so you can get a change in it pretty quickly.”

The procedure gets more complicated with a metabolic disorder such as TD (tibial chondrodysplasia), which requires X-rays and much more invasive methods than noting a turkey’s gait. So, although its heritability is high, it is more difficult to change because of increased manpower and monetary demands.

It comes down to a cost-benefit debate on how much demand there is to change a specific trait and how much money is available to fund such a change.

A perfect example of this is the research to help birds resist pathogens, which Wood says is extremely difficult because of biosecurity concerns once birds are infected. Because those birds would need to be quarantined as a control group, multiple farms with blood relatives of the control flock would need to be utilized and the resulting experiment would be extremely expensive.

Wood adds that university research (not under commercial conditions) has shown that specific resistance can be heritable, but it would be extremely difficult to scale up commercially.

Therefore, it would be better to select for innate immunity, he says, which is the first line of defence against all pathogens.

Data has shown that there is a genetic difference between pure line flocks, but further research is needed before changes in breeds are made.

Another research area that is showing promise is layer behaviour, which has a significant genetic component. By using a social interaction model, each bird’s reproductive potential is based on its own laying performance and those of its group, or cage mates. The “performance” of the groups was measured by looking at their laying ability and mortality due to pecking (the behaviour researchers were trying to reduce).

“If a single bird’s performance wasn’t that great, but its group mates did well, that meant that it was probably treating its group mates well by not pecking,” Wood explained. In effect, if one bird’s overall laying performance was sub-par, but the overall mortality from pecking in that group was decreased compared to the control, then the breeding value of all the individuals in that group/cage was higher.

However, the reverse can also be true, where one bird does well but the overall group does poorly, with the result being that the overall breeding value for that group would decrease. Therefore, if both groups were compared over successive generations, a change should appear in their genetics for a decrease in pecking that breeders would then be able to select for or against.

Taking a closer look

The next step of this research, according to Wood, will be a focus on Genome-wide Association Studies (GWAS), which can provide cheaper case-control studies on everything from survivability to pathogen resistance by taking a closer look at precise DNA changes.

This is done by taking blood samples from a selection of birds, both control and experimental, and comparing observations with areas of their DNA known as single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs (pronounced “snips”). This results when a single DNA nucleotide changes between related individuals, representing, hopefully, a genetic change in a specific trait; thus, this information could have profound effects on breeding programs.

“You’re relying on initial observations to find out the differences at the DNA level, but then you can go back and look into any population at all and either select for or against it,” says Wood.

“The next thing is looking at genomic selection and selecting against certain syndromes, as well as behaviours.”

Published in Genetics

November 12, 2012 - Two of the world’s largest animal breeding companies aim to achieve further breakthroughs in the field of genomics during the next three years through an extension of a joint development agreement (JDA).

Cobb-Vantress Inc. and Hendrix Genetics B.V. initially set up the JDA in 2008 to share and promote expertise, particularly in the fast-growing field of genomics. Already new genomic selection tools have been discovered and developed, such as the cutting-edge SNP Chip for chickens. This is a glass slide that can analyze between 60,000 and one million variations in DNA sequences, - or Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) -  which act as biological markers and help scientists locate a range of genes associated with disease.

The extended agreement will intensify efforts to develop new tools and discover fresh insights into animal genomics in order to improve breeding programs and help increase world food production.

The collaboration is the biggest within the animal breeding industry and the companies say it will produce animals that are more productive, less susceptible to disease and at reduced cost, therefore helping to tackle global food shortages.

The JDA will also strengthen Cobb’s leading position in broiler breeding and Hendrix Genetics’ renowned role in layer hen, turkey, pig and aquaculture genetics, while enabling the two companies to further explore joint venture business opportunities.

Cobb-Vantress supplies broiler breeding stock and technical expertise for the chicken meat industry in more than 90 countries.
Hendrix Genetics has nearly 2,500 employees worldwide and operations in 24 countries and provides expertise and resources to producers in more than 100 countries.


Published in Company News

Roosters in a laboratory on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, GA.

Nov. 9, 2012, Athens, GA - Oil and water may not mix, but a University of Georgia study has found feeding chickens a blend of plant-based oils in their drinking water can help prevent salmonella contamination before the meat reaches the dinner table, or even the grocery store.

Salmonella is a bacterium that causes an estimated 1 million cases of foodborne illness in the United States each year, said Walid Alali, a food safety scientist with the UGA Center for Food Safety in Griffin, Ga.

“Each year some 20,000 people will go to the hospital and close to 400 will die due to salmonellosis,” Alali said.

Linked to poultry, peanut butter and produce

Usually, symptoms last four to seven days and most people get better without treatment. But salmonella can cause more serious illness to older adults, infants and those with chronic diseases. Poultry is a common source of salmonellosis, as are eggs, raw sprouts and unpasteurized juices, but proper cooking and pasteurization kill salmonella. A major outbreak in 2011 was linked to ground turkey that infected close to 136 people in 34 states. In 2009, almost 400 people in 42 states were sickened after eating contaminated peanut butter.

Alali’s work focuses on controlling harmful bacteria in an effort to reduce human illness.

In this study, published in the October issue of Food Control, he tested the effectiveness of adding a blend of oils to poultrys’ water source. The product, Mix-Oil, is a highly concentrated blend of essential oils from thyme, eucalyptol and oregano developed by the Italian company Animal Wellness Products. Mix-Oil has been on the market since 2004 and is used for all animal species, including commercially raised fish.

Better meat and better profit

“Our field results show that Mix-Oil helps get better performance and better meat quality and always gives profitability,” said AWP President Paolo Cristofori.

On a farm in Athens, Ga., Alali compared Mix-Oil to two organic acids traditionally used in the poultry industry to reduce the amount of salmonella the chickens carry. Currently farmers control salmonella in their flocks by administering vaccinations, “probiotics — a cocktail of good bacteria that compete with bad bacteria — and by adding acids to their drinking water,” Alali said.

Finding the right combination

“These extracts come from plant material, and they have antibacterial qualities. They have the ability to kill pathogens – we just have to come up with the right blend,” Cristofori said.

The UGA study found the chickens that were fed Mix-Oil in their water had higher weight gains, a lower feed conversion rate and lower mortality rate. They also drank as much water as they did before the Mix-Oil regimen and more water than chickens that were given lactic acid to prevent salmonella.

“Chickens consume less water when one of the organic acids, lactic acid, is used because they don’t like the taste of it,” Alali said. “It can also inflame the chicken’s intestines and, over time, it can damage the farm’s water pipes.”

Mix-oil reduced salmonella contamination in the chickens just “as well as lactic acid, and it improved the performance of the chickens,” he said.

Salmonella typically collects in two chicken organs; the crop and the ceca. The crop is located at the base of the esophagus and the ceca is part of the large intestine.

The UGA study also looked at the salmonella frequency in these organs. There was less salmonella in the crop of the chicken flock that consumed Mix-Oil, but the levels remained unchanged in the ceca.

Helping from the farm to the fork

In a second study, Alali searched for the best concentration level of Mix-Oil. “The concentration means money, and how much you add results in a cost to the farmer,” he said. “Poultry producers are always concerned over how a treatment is going to affect their birds and how much it’s going to cost them.”

The UGA research project shows Mix-Oil costs around $500 per 20,000-bird chicken flock to control salmonella in chickens and improve performance. Next the researchers will test Mix-Oil on a commercial poultry farm.

“We have proven the concept, now we have to take this to the commercial level and see how it performs on an actual farm,” Alali said. “We are trying to control salmonella in the poultry industry both at the preharvest level, on the farm and at the processing plants. This is what we call farm to fork control. The industry does its job and grocers and consumers control what happens after that.

For more information on this study, visit:, or contact the researchers: Walid Alali This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Mike Doyle This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



Published in Nutrition and Feed

Nov. 9, 2012, Tucker, GA - The 2013 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) has surpassed 1,100 exhibitors, covering more than 420,000 net square feet (21+ acres) of exhibit space. Comprised of the three integrated tradeshows: International Poultry Expo, International Feed Expo, and AMI’s International Meat Expo.
“The response and excitement for the show has been overwhelming. We thought integrating the shows made sense, and the response has been even better than imagined. IPPE has instantaneously established itself as the premiere feed and protein event of the western hemisphere,” remarked John Starkey, president of USPOULTRY.
“The 2013 IPPE will offer an outstanding venue for businesses to collaborate, network, learn about new products and services and solve common challenges facing the feed, poultry and meat industries. With the response so far, we expect attendees will agree that it is worth their time to come to Atlanta,” said Joel G. Newman, AFIA President & CEO.
“We are gratified by the positive show of support from our supplier community. It tells us that our consolidation of shows is a winning formula for the entire industry, farm to fork,” commented AMI President, J. Patrick Boyle.
The global poultry, feed and meat industry tradeshow will be held Tuesday through Thursday, January 29-31, 2013, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA. The Expo will highlight the latest technology, equipment, and services used in the production and processing of poultry, meat and feed products.
The Expo will also feature dynamic education programs that will be held from January 28 through February 1, 2013 and will include the annual line-up of the International Poultry Scientific Forum, Pet Food Conference, Animal Agricultural Sustainability Summit, and International Feed Education Program. 

The 2013 IPPE will also feature eleven new educational programs: Recalls and Public Health Investigations; Improving Food Safety, Sanitation and Maintenance; Animal Care and Handling: Focus on Poultry Processing; Meat and Poultry Processing: A Global Perspective; Consumer Trends; Plant Operations and Management; Antibiotics Conference – Current Issues for the Poultry & Egg Industry; The Future of the U.S. Egg Industry; Meat & Poultry Research Conference; Media Training for the Meat & Poultry Industry; and Poultry Handling and Transportation Quality “Train the Trainer” Workshop. Also returning for this year is the Poultry Market Intelligence Forum and the International Rendering Symposium.
For more information about the 2013 IPPE, go to

Published in Processing

November 2, 2012 - Vitala Foods celebrated Vitamin D Day today with the launch of the new Vita D Sunshine Eggs, the world's first eggs to provide 100 per cent daily value of vitamin D in a single egg.

Hundreds of Vancouverites received their daily dose of "sunshine" from the Vita D Sunshine crew who were giving away complimentary Vita D Sunshine breakfast burritos from the Vita D Sunshine food truck in downtown Vancouver.

The new specialty eggs are produced by giving the hens an all natural, plant based feed, rich in vitamin D. The eggs contain 200 IUs, the current daily value set by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which is the equivalent of 7 regular eggs.

In Canada, vitamin D deficiency is common and can be attributed to a lack of year-round sunshine, especially from November to April when there is insufficient UVB to initiate natural vitamin D production in the skin. Inspire Health first launched Vitamin D Day in Vancouver in 2009 and the event has since grown to include cities all over the world.

"We're so pleased to be able to make getting your daily dose of vitamin D more convenient and more accessible than ever," said Bill Vanderkooi, President of Vitala Foods. "The Vita D Sunshine Eggs are not only a healthy option, they're also the most affordable speciality eggs on the market."

The Vitamin D Day event included presentations by Bill Vanderkooi, President of Vitala Foods; Dr. Cletus D'Souza, Director of Research at Inspire Health and Kelly Spec, Registered Dietitian and founder of Spectrum Nutrition.

“Several research studies have indicated that vitamin D not only prevents cancer but can also impact cancer treatment, said Dr. Cletus D'Souza, Director of Research at Inspire Health, an integrated cancer care clinic with locations throughout BC. "It does so in the role of an anti-inflammatory compound with a variety of anti-cancer effects.”

In addition to cancer, the research has shown that vitamin D offers widespread health benefits including reducing the risk of osteoporosis and multiple sclerosis while benefiting those with high blood pressure, diabetes and depression.

The new Vita D Sunshine Eggs are available at Urban Fare, Save on Foods, Cooper's Foods, PriceSmart Foods and Choices Markets throughout BC at the suggested retail price of $3.49 a dozen.


Published in Companies

It’s not mother’s milk, but egg yolk may be the closest remedy for boosting the immune system of newly hatched chickens against infectious diseases such as coccidiosis.

A major disease of chickens, coccidiosis is caused by intestinal parasites – single-celled protozoans in the genus Eimeria. Disease-affected birds are unable to absorb feed or gain weight, costing the poultry industry more than $600 million annually in the United States and $3 billion worldwide.

Scientists at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Henry A. Wallace Beltsville [Maryland] Agricultural Research Center (BARC) and collaborators from different universities and the Mexican company IASA (Investigacíon Aplicada, S.A.) have developed a novel, antibiotic-free method that uses hyperimmune egg yolk antibodies to control intestinal poultry diseases.

“Coccidiosis is associated with other pathogens, such as the one that causes necrotic enteritis – a prevalent gut disease of poultry,” says avian immunologist Hyun Lillehoj, who works in BARC’s Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory. “By controlling one, you’re also reducing the impact of the other.”

Alternative Strategies

Good management practices and live vaccinations reduce the spread of coccidiosis, but alternative strategies are needed to help control drug-resistant strains and to enhance organic farming for the poultry industry.

Generally, a host can develop two types of immunity – active and passive – to resist infection. Passive immunity allows immune molecules that are already formed to be transferred from the hen, via the yolk, to the chick. Active immunity relies on vaccines to build immunity in the birds.

“When chicks hatch, they have no immunity to this pathogen. But if we give preformed immune proteins to one-day-old progeny, they are ready to fight infection,” she says. “It’s similar to how immunity is passed to newborns through milk.”

The method involves extracting antibodies from yolks of eggs from pathogen-free birds that have been hyperimmunized, meaning they possess greater-than-normal immunity due to an abundance of antibodies against the disease. Egg yolk is spray dried, mixed with feed, and given to chicks that have no immune protection right after hatching.

Lillehoj teamed up with ARS visiting scientist Sung Hyen Lee from the Rural Development Administration in South Korea, IASA scientist Eduardo Lucio and other researchers to conduct different experiments to demonstrate the efficacy of inducing passive immunity against coccidiosis.

Simple Technology

One-day-old broiler chickens were continuously fed a standard diet containing a commercially available egg yolk powder prepared from hens hyperimmunized with multiple species of Eimeria. They were then given a challenge infection with live coccidia. Body weight gain between days zero and 10 and fecal shedding between days five and 10 post-infection were analyzed. Chickens given 0.5 per cent or less of the hyperimmune egg yolk antibodies had a significant increase in body weight gain, reduced fecal Eimeria shedding and fewer gut lesions compared to control birds fed a non-supplemented diet.

“It’s very simple technology, and it works,” Lillehoj says.

Based on these results, one company has developed a commercial product that can be fed to chickens to control coccidiosis. Similar technology may be used in the future to guard against other devastating poultry diseases.

This article was originally published in the July 2012 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Published in Nutrition and Feed

A couple of months ago I commented on the federal government’s reduction in funding for research in agriculture and the paramount importance of working together to ensure that we in the poultry industry get our fair share of federal and provincial research dollars and retain, as far as is possible, our research infrastructure.

In September, the Provost at the University of Guelph (U of G) released a statement that talked of the University undertaking “a Program Prioritization Process (PPP),” which “is part of the assessment component of the University’s Integrated Plan. Its purpose is to help the university ensure its limited resources are directed toward services and programs that are “mission-critical,” said Maureen Mancuso, provost and vice-president (academic).

“We are living and working in an era of scarce resources and significant financial difficulties,” said Mancuso. “We face the challenge of continuing to maintain and enhance quality with limited revenues, so we must make decisions that are evidence-based.”

What this suggests is that the university is taking a hard look at where it makes money and where it does not. Does anyone think that the provost’s gaze will not rest on the cost of maintaining agricultural programs, faculty positions and researchers, costs that include expensive research facilities and equipment?
Indeed not.

People Needed

We need highly skilled workers moving out of high-quality agricultural educational institutions, but our industry cannot compete with the huge volume of students being churned through the cash-cow “edu-dollar rich” degree offerings that are taught online to hundreds of students at a time. We need people, and good ones at that, but educating them does not come cheap and neither does the research that is vital to the future of our agricultural industries.

Collaboration is key, and the advent of the Livestock Research Innovation Corporation (LRIC) could not have come at a more critical time. Designed to bring the combined weight of all of Ontario’s livestock and poultry research dollars and organizations in behind one entity, the LRIC has a mandate to negotiate with the province and university on key issues relating to research priorities, faculty appointments, research infrastructure and equipment purchases.

The last time the knife came out at the University of Guelph, the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) copped more than its fair share of the cuts. Despite all of that, and mainly thanks to the efforts of the then-new Dean Gordon, the OAC managed to haul itself up by its bootstraps and survive.

Sustainable Funding

We sincerely hope that, combined, our livestock and poultry industries create agricultural careers for those educated at Guelph, and the funds that flow from our sectors into research and faculty positions – coupled with the cash flow from the province through the OMAFRA U of G agreement – will be enough to encourage the provost to look beyond short-term edu-dollar revenue to the very sustainable long-term funding (albeit not as lucrative) that agriculture undergraduate education provides.

Our message to the provost is to remind her that agrifood is the number 1 economic driver and employer in this province and is likely to remain so for some time. People will always need to eat; thus, farming and the revenue it creates for the province are permanent fixtures. Agriculture is “mission critical” to the economy of the province and agriculture needs well-educated employees.

Our Message

According to the mission of the university, it feels the same way: “it recognizes agriculture and veterinary medicine as areas of special responsibility.” Our message to the provost when considering the options is to honour the university’s special responsibility to agriculture and keep the delivery of agriculture to undergraduates in the “mission-critical” envelope. And secondly, we ask that the provost never to lose sight of the fact that the significant provincial tax revenues from agrifood support the funds the university receives for the delivery of the more lucrative undergraduate online education delivery, ironically making agrifood an invisible benefactor of those courses.

Finally, we would like to offer one last thing for the provost to consider: Think sustainable funding. Think of, and believe in, agriculture.

Published in Emerging Trends

The poultry industry in Canada has made tremendous strides in virtually every respect. Improved production efficiencies, enhanced management practices, and superior disease detection, treatment and prevention can all be traced back to research. Clearly, past investments in research have paid enormous dividends. Therefore, continued investment in research is key to the future success of the poultry industry.

In order to maximize the return on an investment in research, many would argue, one should only support research that has obvious industry applications. However, it may not always be obvious how a particular research project will translate into results a farmer will see in the barn. Often, it is the amalgamation of seemingly unrelated research discoveries that eventually leads to these improvements.

Take, for example, a study at the University of Manitoba that is looking at enzyme supplements for broiler feed. The enzymes are being used to break down otherwise indigestible components of corn, soybean and wheat in common broiler diets because it was discovered that the presence of these indigestibles in the gut could promote the growth of several deleterious organisms. The study found that birds supplemented with the enzymes performed better when challenged with necrotic enteritis compared to the control birds. The mix of enzymes developed during this research is now commercially available to the poultry industry through Canadian Bio-Systems Inc. (which was an active supporter of the research program) and is being used in some low-dose antibiotic feeding programs.

The success of this study is rooted in a range of research efforts that came before it; fundamental knowledge of immunology, botany and nutrition were applied to enzyme chemistry, gut microbiology and etiology to achieve results that could ultimately be used in industry. In other words, this research could not have been put into practice were it not for the range of discoveries that preceded it.

The Innovation Continuum
Research can be described as occurring along an “Innovation Continuum,” which begins with primary research – that which pushes back the frontiers of knowledge and provides us with conceptual understanding of the world around us. Further along, applied research directs this fundamental knowledge towards more tangible end results and the next stage, innovation, leads to products and processes that may be of use to the end user. Finally, application is the point at which the research actually impacts the end user, which would be considered the most interesting from an industry standpoint. But, as illustrated in the example above, a successful research program requires support at all points along the Innovation Continuum.

Striking a balance
The recently released “National Research Strategy for Canada’s Poultry Sector” (for details, visit outlines an approach that helps push research towards the application stage while maintaining a healthy balance of all types of research along the Continuum. The approach is based on articulating target outcomes for each research priority area. For example, one of CPRC’s research priorities areas is “Food Safety.”

In the Strategy document, the industry has listed a number of outcomes it would like to see from food safety research. Proposals submitted to CPRC therefore will be reviewed in light of their potential to help move the program towards one or more of these target outcomes. Research anywhere along the Innovation Continuum is eligible for support, provided it can demonstrate that potential. This approach will focus CPRC research programs on the work required to reach industry’s target outcomes and at the same time provide support for discovery research.

Assessing next steps
CPRC has, along with various government and industry partners, supported a number of research projects. In some cases, research that yielded promising results was not continued after the original studies were completed. The CPRC is therefore considering what steps are required to move these projects along the Innovation Continuum towards industry application with consultation from project leaders. If it sees value in doing so, the CPRC will facilitate that next step, whether it is more research, field trials, extension or other activities.

The future success of the poultry industry depends on innovations from research and the CPRC continues to work towards a strong poultry research program that balances industry’s desire for quick application of innovations with the need to foster discoveries that will fuel the innovations of tomorrow.

For more details on these or any other CPRC activities, please contact the Canadian Poultry Research Council, 350 Sparks St., Ste. 1007, Ottawa, Ontario, K1R 7S8, phone: 613-566-5916, fax: 613-241-5999, e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit us at

Published in Welfare

Oct. 18, 2012, London, ON and Mankato, MN - Masterfeeds Inc. and Feed-Rite (the Canadian arm of parent company Ridley Inc.) have announced an agreement that will merge their respective commercial livestock and poultry feed and nutrition businesses in Canada into a new entity called Masterfeeds LP.

The combination of Masterfeeds and Ridley's Canadian feed business will create the second largest feed provider in Canada. The new entity will operate, among other things, 22 feed manufacturing plants and employ over 500 people in a business spanning across Quebec, Ontario and the Prairie Provinces. Masterfeeds LP will be headquartered in London, Ontario and led by current Masterfeeds Inc. Chief Executive Officer, Rob Flack.

"Masterfeeds and Feed-Rite are two of the most respected brand names in Canadian animal agriculture," said Flack. "We are excited about bringing the strengths of both companies together as we continue to serve our dealers and customers with dynamic feeding solutions and a larger, more efficient geographic footprint in Canada. As Canadian meat, milk and egg producers have become fewer, larger and ever more sophisticated, it has been obvious for some time that the feed industry in Canada would benefit from a similar transformation. As the feed industry evolves, we expect there to be more opportunities for Masterfeeds LP to grow in the future," added Flack.

"The Feed-Rite name will celebrate its 75th anniversary in Canada next year," stated Ridley CEO Steve VanRoekel. "Ridley's commitment to the long-term in Canada has been unwavering since we acquired the business nearly 20 years ago. We've never hesitated to make the changes necessary to maintain a competitive advantage, and this merger puts all stakeholders in the Feed-Rite organization in a position for even more opportunity going forward."

Each of Masterfeeds Inc. and Ridley Inc. will contribute essentially all of their Canadian feed operating assets in exchange for relative shareholdings in Masterfeeds LP. That transfer is expected to result in no material impact overall to Ridley's balance sheet, nor is it expected to have any material effect on the structure or other operations of Ridley Inc. Both parties expect the merger to result in significant new synergies over time. Completion of the merger is expected to take 30-45 days and is subject to the execution of definitive agreements and normal conditions including regulatory approvals.

About Masterfeeds Inc.

Masterfeeds ( has an 83-year history of research, innovation and service to animal agriculture in Canada. Headquartered in London, Ontario, Masterfeeds is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ag Processing Inc. (AGP). AGP (, headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, is a farmer-owned cooperative engaged in the procurement, processing, marketing and transportation of grains and grain products. AGP, which acquired Masterfeeds in 1991, is owned by 175 local cooperatives representing over 250,000 farmers throughout the Midwest, and five regional cooperatives representing farmers throughout the U.S. and Canada.

About Ridley Inc.

Ridley Inc. (, headquartered in Mankato, Minnesota and Winnipeg, Manitoba, is one of North America's leading commercial animal nutrition companies. Ridley manufactures and distributes a full range of animal nutrition products under a number of highly regarded trade names.

Ridley's Canadian feed business, operating under the trade name Feed-Rite (, is reported in Ridley's financial statements as the Canadian Feed Operations segment.

Published in Company News

Oct. 17, 2012 - Chancellor Randy Woodson announced today a transformational $10 million gift that will name and endow a department in North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The Department of Poultry Science will be renamed the Prestage Family Department of Poultry Science in honor of Bill and Marsha Prestage and their family, longtime supporters of NC State and owners of Prestage Farms, a poultry and pork production company headquartered in Clinton, N.C. Home to one of only six poultry science departments in the nation, NC State produces job-ready graduates in an important domestic industry.

“The impact of this gift will ensure the pre-eminence of the Prestage Department of Poultry Science for generations to come and provide a powerful stimulus for economic development in North Carolina and beyond,” Woodson says. “The partnerships we have with supporters like the Prestage family are essential in helping us fulfill our mission as the largest public institution of higher education in North Carolina. Together we will continue to strengthen NC State’s position as an incubator for research, educational innovation, collaboration and economic development.”

The gift will be divided into two endowments that will provide income in perpetuity to support a strategic combination of teaching, research and extension programs. The Prestage Department of Poultry Science Endowment for Excellence will allow the department to respond to emerging needs and opportunities by providing faculty and student support, curriculum enrichments, increased opportunity for interdisciplinary research and enhanced ability to respond to an agricultural crisis.

The second gift endowment will be used to fund the Prestage Family Distinguished Professorship in Turkey Physiology, Nutrition and Immunology. The distinguished professorship will allow NC State to recruit a renowned faculty member who will contribute to the department’s overall teaching, research and outreach mission.

”This endowment is an investment in the future. With only six poultry science departments left in the country, we felt it was important to endow the NC State poultry science department in order to ensure that the department would always have the funding necessary to continue its service to the industry,” says Bill Prestage. “While we could have built a building, buildings will eventually need to be replaced. An endowment is forever.”

Poultry production is big business in North Carolina. The state ranks second in the nation, producing nearly 10 percent of all U.S. poultry. Annually, North Carolina poultry companies produce approximately 800 million broilers, or chickens raised for meat, 32 million turkeys and more than 3 billion eggs. North Carolina currently ranks No. 2 nationally in turkey production; No. 3 in total poultry; No. 5 in broiler production; and No. 10 in egg production.

“For many years, both the department and the college have been known as go-to places for scientific information, technical expertise and a strong base of students. This transformational gift will help us better address the most challenging agricultural concerns,” said Dr. Richard Linton, the college’s dean. “Through its partnership with the Prestage family, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will build upon its existing strengths and develop new opportunities for leadership. We will continue to grow in our role as an engaged, responsive and innovative college.”

Recent N.C. Department of Agriculture statistics show that poultry represents nearly 38 percent of all cash receipts from agriculture. Conservative estimates place the “farm gate” value of North Carolina poultry products at $3.6 billion.

“In North Carolina, poultry production accounts for tens of thousands of jobs and millions in economic activity,” said Dr. Mike Williams, professor and interim head of the Prestage Department of Poultry Science. “The department, one of only six poultry science departments in the United States, provides expertise to the poultry industry and citizens throughout North Carolina. The impacts of this department’s programs are significant and profound, and will only increase thanks to this generous gift from the Prestage family.”

Prestage Farms works with more than 400 family farms across the country to produce about 1.25 billion pounds of turkey and pork each year.

The Prestage Department of Poultry Science will be the second named academic department in the history of the university; the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering was named in 2005.

Published in Welfare

Oct. 9, 2012, Lexington, KY - There is no doubt that feed quality will be a challenge this year. Four of the nation’s top producing corn states have already been given permission to blend corn at levels exceeding the United States Food and Drug Administration aflatoxin action level and other states may soon be following in pursuit.  As the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports this year’s corn supply at an eight-year low, much of the Midwest is trying to utilize this year’s poor corn crop for their livestock.

 “This year’s volatile drought has forced livestock producers to think twice about the quality of their feedstuffs,” said Dr. Max Hawkins, Alltech Mycotoxin Management Team.

While Aspergillus, the mold responsible for aflatoxins, has been the most notorious culprit in the 2012 harvest due to its carcinogenic properties, other toxins may show up this year.  The hot and dry growing season provides just the right climate for the mold Fusarium verticillioides, which causes fumonisin B1 and can have serious effects on horses and swine. Penicillium is another mold of concern, especially during storage. Silage that is dry, poorly packed or has a significant amount of soil contamination can allow Pencillium to produce PR toxin, patulin, mycophenolic acid, roquefortine C, penicilic acid and several other mycotoxins.

In order to better identify mycotoxins, Alltech recently launched its 37+ Program. The mass spectrometry technique LC-MS2 can investigate 38 different mycotoxins quantitatively, and more than 50 others qualitatively in less than 15 minutes per sample analyzed, with limits of detection in the parts per trillion range. According to Hawkins, this approach allows a broader analytical approach compared to other commercial methods that can only see a ‘snapshot’ of contamination.

“Producers should positively identify any situations that may arise with this year’s corn crop and not assume it is only Aspergillius,” Hawkins said.

For more information about he mycotoxin problem with feed, see an article from Canadian Poultry in September 2012 entitled Feed Quality and Cost.

Published in Nutrition and Feed

Oct. 3, 2012 - The Canadian Poultry Research Council (CPRC) held an event at the Poultry Research Centre at the University of Alberta last month to unveil its new Research Sponsorship Program.

A cheque for $25,000 was presented to Jacob Middelkamp, CPRC's Chair, by Scott Gillingham, Canadian Regional Business Manager for Aviagen Inc. and the Inaugural Platinum Sponsor of the program. This was the first in a series of three annual sponsorships.

The CPRC is an industry-led organization with a mandate to support poultry research in Canada through funding, communication of research results and research-related activities, such as coordinating conferences and meetings on industry research priorities. Sponsor contributions will be used to enhance member organization annual funding to support the increasing demand for industry research funds.

A recent review of CPRC-funded research projects showed that all parts of the poultry value chain benefit from the discoveries, including producers, feed suppliers, animal health care companies and professionals, processors, distributors, and consumers.

"The research the CPRC conducts plays a critical role in the overall success of the poultry industry in Canada," said Gillingham. "Aviagen is proud to support the CPRC's new research program and we look forward to continued collaboration in the future."

For more information about Aviagen and the CPRC, please visit and

Photo: Scott Gillingham of Aviagen, Inc. presents the CPRC's chair, Jacob Middelkamp, with a research sponsorship cheque for $25,000.

Published in Company News

Oct. 2, 2012, Tucker, GA - Antibiotic use in poultry production has been extremely effective in enhancing bird health and producing a wholesome, safe, and economical food supply. However, as consumers, industry professionals, and regulators seek to gain more understanding of how their food is produced, even the judicious use of antibiotics by the poultry industry raises questions.

The Antibiotics Conference – Current Issues for the Poultry and Egg Industry, sponsored by the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, aims to explore and discuss antibiotic use as viewed from the regulatory and scientific perspective of leading industry experts. For the first time at the International Poultry Expo, experts from the United States, Europe, and Latin America will discuss the current use of antibiotics throughout the world, explore the differences in regional perspectives involving antibiotics, investigate how antibiotic use is monitored, and review the current science behind alternatives to antibiotics. The registration fee for this invaluable, well-timed conference is $150 and will also include admission to the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE).

"Animal welfare and the production of a safe food supply are prime concerns for all growers and processors. This conference aims to provide scientific, well-researched antibiotic data from global experts, so that attendees can gain a greater understanding about the risks and benefits. There are differences in the way regions of the world view antibiotic usage. However, we all want the same thing – to ensure that poultry producers can continue to bring safe, nutritional, affordable food to tables across America and the world," stated John Starkey, president of USPOULTRY.

Program topics include Current State of Affairs Regarding Antibiotics – How We Got to Where We Are, How We Currently Use Antibiotics; Antibiotic Resistance – Science Behind Antibiotic Resistance, How Is It Being Monitored (NARMS), How Is Data Being Used? Is There a Disconnect Between Use in Animals Compared to Antibiotic Resistance in Humans? Is the Issue Consumer or Government Driven?; Alternatives to Antibiotics; and Future of Antibiotic Usage – Industry & FDA Perspective.

The 2013 IPPE, one of the world's largest poultry, feed, and meat industry events, will be held from January 29-31, 2013, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA. The Antibiotics Conference – Current Issues for the Poultry and Egg Industry program will be on Wednesday, January 30, and Thursday, January 31, from 8 – 11:30 a.m. The conference agenda can be viewed at


U.S. Poultry & Egg Association is an all-feather organization representing the complete spectrum of today’s poultry industry, with a focus on progressively serving member companies through research, education, communication, and technical assistance. Founded in 1947, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association is based in Tucker, GA.

Published in Barn Management

Sept. 18, 2012, Ottawa, ON - Canada's chicken farmers welcome Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz's announcement of the creation of a new Innovation Advisory Committee, the first of its kind; it underscores Canada's support for ideas that work to meet the evolving consumer demand for high-quality Canadian food.

The FPT Ministers of Agriculture were in Whitehorse settling the final content of the Growing Forward 2 policy framework for the agriculture, agri-food and agri-products sector. This will focus investments on strategic initiatives in innovation, competitiveness and market development. "We are pleased that Ministers reaffirmed that the pursuit of an aggressive trade agenda and support for supply management are mutually compatible strategies," said Dave Janzen, Chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada.

David Fuller, past chair of CFC and chicken farmer from Nova Scotia, has been named to the new committee by Minister Ritz. The committee, launched at the federal-provincial-territorial (FPT) meetings held last week in Whitehorse, Yukon, has a mandate of providing the minister with expert advice on research and development.

"We are proud to have our past chair named to such a prestigious post," said Dave Janzen. "Research and innovation help industries remain responsive and are critical for Canada to be competitive on the world stage. We have earned the trust of Canadians by continually committing to innovation in new products, programs, technologies and processes that help our industry grow and thrive."

CFC supports the ongoing investment in research through the Agri-Science Clusters, Agricultural innovation and several other streams which will help develop new technologies and products.

During his time as CFC Chair, David Fuller oversaw the creation of the Canadian Poultry Research Council with the other four national poultry agencies and is a champion for the need to keep investing in research and innovation.

"This new committee will provide additional industry advice and expertise to help ensure that investments by governments are generating the results and returns needed by farmers," said Minister Ritz.

The committee will have 12 participants that cover a diverse spectrum of sectors and expertise. It will provide the Minister with proactive and strategic advice to help enhance the success of farmers and the sector.

For more information on the Chicken Farmers of Canada, visit

Published in Marketing Boards

Consistently monitoring your flock is the first step in detecting disease2. Early detection of diseases will make treatment and eradication much easier. And the best way to keep your birds healthy during their time in the barn is through routine monitoring.

According to experts, there are three main tips to keeping your flock healthy: knowing your flock, surveillance and staff training.

1) Know your flock
Be sure to keep good records (e.g. egg numbers, body weights, mortality, daily water and feed consumption) so that you may learn what is normal and what is not. Remember, every flock is different. 

Routine monitoring of the flock will:

  • Allow early detection of
  • abnormalities
  • Allow quick intervention to
  • reduce the impact of disease
  • Reduce the number of birds affected
  • Minimize environmental
  • contamination
  • Reduce the likelihood that pathogens will be carried to flocks in other barns1

2) Surveillance
Keeping a watchful eye on your flock is critical to ensure reportable diseases6 are recognized as soon as possible and dealt with immediately (as many of these diseases have classical or very specific signs and can be easy to spot)1. If you suspect a reportable disease in the flock, it requires a veterinarian’s prompt diagnosis1.

3) Staff training
It is your responsibility to ensure that your staff are trained to identify changes that might indicate disease, including:

  • Changes in behaviour or appearance of the birds
  • Increased mortality
  • Decreased water or feed decreased consumption
  • Decreased flock productivity (e.g. poor weight gain, decreased egg numbers or shell quality)1

Flock health monitoring programs are important, as they emphasize health rather than focus on disease3. The main advantage of daily monitoring is that signs of disease or deviations from the norm will become apparent before rapidly increasing morbidity or mortality are observed1. This “early catch” will maximize bird welfare and minimize economic losses.

Tips for monitoring your flock:

  • During your daily walk-through, look for birds that are sick or show abnormal behaviour1
  • Remove all mortalities and cull sick birds daily1 (consider submitting freshly culled birds to your veterinarian to obtain a diagnosis)
  • Maintain a daily mortality log so you can track changes, such as sudden increases in mortality that could indicate the presence of an infectious disease1
  • A response plan and guidelines for disease outbreaks should be prepared in advance and explained to your staff
  • Always be prepared to heighten your routine biosecurity measures during times of possible or confirmed infection1

As well, while monitoring your layer or breeder hens, be sure to check egg production records to identify fluctuations that might indicate underlying diseases1. For broilers and turkeys, monitor chick or poult distribution closely during the brooding period (the first few days after placement) – this will be a good indicator of problems with ventilation, heating systems, feed or water, or possible disease challenges5.

Finally, for all poultry types, use the FLAWSS checklist-feed, light, air, water, space and sanitation4 – to systematically evaluate the birds’ environment and management, which will directly affect their health and well-being.


  1. National Avian On-Farm Biosecurity Standard, Canadian Food Inspection Agency Office of Animal Biosecurity,
  2. Mississippi State University Poultry Diseases,
  3. Monitoring poultry flock health; an absolute necessity – Part 1,
  4. INFO Flock Management – The “FLAWS” system,
  5. Cobb Broiler Management Guide.
  6. Reportable Diseases, Canadian Food Inspection Agency Office of Animal Biosecurity,


PIC’s Picks
By Tim Nelson, Executive Director

The year 2011/12 has been a “tipping point” year for the PIC.  It was a very productive year for PIC; the year in which (as we Australians say), PIC “hit its straps.” The highlight was being formally recognized by the Turkey Farmers of Ontario (TFO) as a valuable industry service provider, having been awarded with its poultry business of the year award.  

Our emphasis within the organization has been to strategically shift from being a relatively static organization that administered research projects and published research reports to one that uses research results in a more proactive manner, creating and disseminating information that is useful to producers and industry.

The goal for the past four years was to develop, design and deliver programs that address the expressed needs of industry with materials based on research that industry has funded.

The capacity and understanding that we have built is an investment that will pay dividends and we will be able to capitalize on this for many years to come. More programs are in the pipeline and will be rolled out over the coming years, ensuring that 2011/12 will be remembered as a tipping point year, not just a one-off.

Events that made 2011/12 a tipping point year for the PIC include:

Producer Updates
Since 2009, the PIC in collaboration with OMAFRA has been designing, rolling out and refining the Producer Updates. Five Producer Updates have been delivered at various locations around Ontario each year, and attendance has increased each year.

The Innovations Conference
Taking a new approach to program delivery to make the format more “practical” paid dividends.

In 2011, we moved the conference from Kitchener to London and thanks to the great work and ideas of the Special Events Committee, presented a very practically focused workshop combined with a conference-style two-day event that clearly resonated with producers. Attendance was up and the feedback was extremely positive, indicating that this is the format producers like and that bringing the conference to London was a good strategy.

Research Day
This was a very big day indeed. In using this event as a time to reflect on the life and work of Dr. Bruce Hunter and to present the Poultry Worker of the Year award to him (posthumously), Steve Leeson and Ian Duncan. Once again OMAFRA supported the research day, which demonstrates a growing relationship between our organizations and a respect within that organization for the quality of what PIC presents and the manner in which we do it.

London Poultry Show
The show was bigger than ever this year, with an extra 800 attendees registering.

Extension work
In addition to the above, the PIC has also been the catalyst and driving partner behind some very successful extension work this past year.

The Biosecurity Video, designed by the PIC and students from the two University of Guelph poultry clubs, has been very successful. We have received many requests from across Canada to use it and we have used it in many presentations and will continue to do so. It has been broken into segments, one of which we release each month in order to keep the “biosecurity message” current. 

There is enormous regard within the transport sector for the work that went into the Loaded program, reflecting the relevance of the work in addressing current issues. 

PIC has been asked many times how we went about developing such good tools. The answer quite simply is that the PIC didn’t do it alone. We partnered with many other organizations to help us develop them and most importantly, we involved the people at the coalface — the producers and service providers who will be using them.

Project work
PIC has involved itself in a number of projects as a provider. All our projects are driven by industry-expressed needs.
2011/12 also showed the completion of several projects:

  • Biosecurity Outreach Project
  • Cost-benefits of Biosecurity project
  • GPS Mark 2 – which will become GPS Mark 3
  • Biosecurity Video (see above)
  • “Should this bird be loaded?” materials

Industry involvement
PIC continues to receive requests for input into an increasing number of industry and government forums.

Published in Housing

The dry growing conditions of early summer 2012 across some parts of Canada and the United States have already presented challenges for Canadian poultry feed-makers – and those challenges are certain to continue or mount.

“The drought has already impacted feed ingredient and feed prices,” notes Dr. David Trott, a poultry nutritionist at Wallenstein Feed & Supply Ltd. in Wallenstein, Ont. “However, our feed formulations have not changed much to this point (late August), because most ingredient prices have increased by similar percentages.” Over the last few years, Trott has noticed that low nutrient-dense feed formulations have occasionally been more profitable than the traditional high-density corn-soybean meal formulations, but the current price and availability of ingredients typically used in low-density formulas do not make it wise to move in that direction right now.  

Lower corn yields across some parts of Ontario and the United States will mean boosted corn prices, and the higher demand for other feed components means that their costs will increase as well. “Usually, the cost of alternative ingredients goes up when corn prices go up,” notes Martine Bourgeois, director of poultry nutrition and development for ShurGain in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. “What will happen across the country will be different because each region has different issues. We may still use mostly corn and pay the higher price. But we’ll also likely try to use local barley and wheat as well, and look for available byproducts.”

Bourgeois points out, however, that high-quality barley will mostly go to the brewers and high-quality wheat will go for human consumption. “So grain not accepted for those markets will be in demand,” she says, “and even it will be costly. We will have to wait to see about grain quality when the harvest is over.”  

“We’re always looking at alternative ingredients, at good value for nutrient content,” notes Dr. Jim Blackman, the poultry nutritionist at New Life Mills, which has three mill sites in Ontario. “We’re already seeing price differentials between grain corn and wheat, wheat byproducts and corn milling byproducts, and we expect costs to increase further. We routinely look at many alternative ingredients, from corn DDGS and bakery byproduct meal to protein from the rendering industry, mill byproducts and so on. Certain industries such as breakfast cereal production might have off-spec material at times as well,” Blackman adds, “We may rely more on enzymes this year. Synthetic amino acid use may also increase.”

Optimizing poultry feed formulations at Belisle Nutrition’s St. Mathias, Que., mill over the coming months will also mean looking at alternative ingredients, says nutritionist (Maritime region) Jeff Walton. “Enzymes will need to be optimized to their fullest, and we may have to consider using more than one enzyme,” he notes. “We will review all amino acid levels in ingredients and be sure safety margins are cost-effective for each ingredient.”

The poultry feed formulations at Wetaskiwin Co-op Association Ltd. in Wetaskiwin, Alta., are wheat-based, and even though wheat yields are expected to be average or better than average in most areas of the Canadian Prairies this fall, its poultry nutritionist notes that higher corn prices will push wheat prices upward. “We’re having a good crop year, but how much of the wheat gets downgraded to feed is yet to be seen,” says Dr. Nancy Fischer. “The availability of grain ingredients will impact how much we have to play with our enzyme and synthetic amino acid levels. We do use some DDGS from wheat, and some from corn, but how much more will come into the rations will depend on changes in other ingredient prices and availability.”

She says many farmers will be storing large amounts of grain while prices keep increasing and will only sell if prices drop. “We must watch for good quality at a good price,” says Fischer. “If we’re going to be using other byproducts that we don’t routinely use, we also have to make sure we have storage space for it all and that quality is consistent.” Wetaskiwin uses soybean meal (mostly from the United States) in its starter feeds, but Fischer says if pricing or availability of that is a problem, they can use canola meal.

Meanwhile, poultry feed production in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia will face some unique challenges, but the location also offers good flexibility in terms of ingredient sourcing.  “We have no grain production here, and get it all from the northwest U.S. (corn) or the Prairies (wheat),” explains Marvin Friesen, CEO of Abbotsford, B.C.-based Clearbrook Grain and Milling. Like Fischer, Friesen expects that, despite an anticipated average or above-average Prairie wheat harvest, drought-stricken corn will affect wheat pricing. In anticipation, Clearbrook will also look at using ethanol production byproducts.

He also agrees that on-farm storage of grain will be a bigger factor than ever in aggravating pricing pressures. “There will also be some price effects on wheat due to the changes in the Canadian Wheat Board,” he says, “but having said all that, we’ll probably use mostly wheat.”

“However, wheat quality is likely going to be very good, and prices will be high. There is also more demand for food-grade wheat than ever coming from Asia with a growing population and growing middle class.”

Corn and wheat in rations
Trott from Wallenstein Feed & Supply Ltd. notes that in recent years, wheat has been used to a greater extent instead of corn at Ontario feed mills. “In the fall of 2011, wheat was priced significantly less than corn and most feed formulations took advantage of this ‘wheat window,’” he explains. “Some wheat has continued to be used in many formulas as a pellet binder, to increase production throughput, and to dilute vomitoxin from the 2011 corn crop.” He expects that in the coming year, whenever there is at least a six- to eight-week “wheat window” anticipated, wheat will replace corn in many feed formulations.

He has also noticed another trend, which ties in with higher ingredient prices and greater use of wheat, of formulating feed to minimum amino acid levels rather than crude protein. “More synthetic amino acids will be needed,” he says. “Tryptophan could be the next one used in formulations in addition to lysine, methionine and threonine.”

Enzymes, Trott adds, are essential for transitioning from corn to wheat. “Without the appropriate enzymes, changing from corn to wheat formulations has a detrimental effect on gut viscosity and health,” he notes. “However, there is currently enough corn and soybeans in Ontario for feed manufacturing. The drought has not affected this province to the extent it has the U.S. Midwest.”

Drought-stressed corn will have low bushel weight, Trott says, but on a weight basis it should have nearly the same feeding value as non-stressed corn. “To properly evaluate the nutritional value of the 2012 corn crop, protein and amino acids measurements will have to be done,” he explains. “Corn energy levels can be predicted based on proximate analysis of protein, fat, fibre and starch. However, the most reliable information on energy levels in complete feed will come from layer farms – if feed has a lower energy content, chickens will eat more of it and this is most noticeable on layer farms.”

Trott also points out that, going into the fall and winter, it’s important for producers to consider that colder barn temperatures will also have an effect on feed intake. “Therefore, it can take more time to determine if there is a problem with feed energy content,” he says. “Once new crop corn is used, good communication between farmers and feed mills on feed intake and barn temperature is very helpful for giving corn an appropriate nutritional value.” Trott points out that if 2012 corn is low-energy, then either supplemental fat will be added to formulations, or the low-density formulations may become more profitable. “The crude protein and amino acids of DDGS will also be determined so that it is valued appropriately,” he says. “If it is low in protein or energy, then less of it will be used.”

However, he does not anticipate any feed changes occurring that will negatively affect animal health or production. “If there are problems with ingredient quality, then appropriate changes will be made,” Trott says.

“For example, during the past year, corn has been segregated and used based on vomitoxin levels. DDGS was limited more than usual and wheat was used more than usual. Some feeds also used more enzymes and binding agents to further reduce mycotoxin levels. Fortunately, the combination of these strategies sufficiently reduced vomitoxin in complete feed without too much cost.”  
Thoughts on toxins
“Although it is difficult to say at this point [late August], the drier conditions in parts of Ontario and the U.S. may result in less vomitoxin issues, but fumonisins challenges may go up,” says Dr. Swamy Haladi, the global technical manager of the “Mycotoxin Management Team” at Alltech Canada in Guelph, Ont. “The challenges in Midwest USA and Eastern Canada will be similar this year.”

Trott notes that use of DDGS (processed from last year’s harvest) by his company has been lower this year due to its very high vomitoxin level, but this year’s should be much higher quality. He therefore may be able to achieve some savings from using higher levels of DDGS this year, but the cost of this higher-quality material is also hard to predict.

“Similarly, in comparison to last year, the new crop wheat has very low levels of vomitoxin, which makes it a high-quality ingredient available for the coming year,” he notes. Fischer says it hasn’t been a wet year on the Prairies and no one is anticipating worse-than-usual mycotoxin problems.

For producers who make their own feed, testing of ingredients will be key, both for toxins and for overall nutrient profile. “Seek out your provincial ag ministry staff for possible alternative ingredient ideas,” Blackman suggests. Fischer notes that many Albertan producers mix their wheat with feed; therefore, they always need to keep on top of wheat quality and consistency. “If they have to buy wheat in multiple batches from different sources, they will have to test it all carefully,” she notes.

Trott agrees that a consistent supply of quality ingredients is very important. He adds, “Like feed mills, producers with on-farm mills can also take advantage of opportunities to use wheat instead of corn, but again, it’s important use the correct enzymes.”

Higher Feed, Meat Costs
Higher feed prices in the coming months will put significant cost pressures on Canadian chicken farmers and processors,” reads part of a Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC) statement released on Aug. 24. “While farmers and processors will have to absorb some of the cost increases, consumers will also see higher prices.”

Higher prices could mean a reduction in chicken consumption in stores and restaurants, and if production levels drop, this will reduce demand for feed ingredients, which may lower their cost.

CFC has no plans to do any marketing to prevent a possible drop in sales.

The organization, in fact, expects to “moderately grow fresh chicken supplies” in 2012. The CFC has set allocation levels at two per cent above base for the six production periods this year.

“As of mid-August, annual production in 2012 is forecast to be only 0.3 per cent greater than in 2011. These consistent allocations…are responsible and set up the industry to enter the coming period of higher feed costs on a solid footing.”

Published in Nutrition and Feed

When a company hits a milestone, congratulations are in order. When it reaches a 75th anniversary, it is natural to hold a gala celebration to commemorate such an event. This is exactly what Shur-Gain did on July 11, 2012, and the event featured blasts from the past, speeches, tours and more.

Held at the Shur-Gain Agresearch Farm in Burford, Ont., the gala featured a memorabilia tent, which displayed artifacts pulled from Shur-Gain’s long history in Canada. From its humble beginnings as part of Canada Packers (see sidebar, “History of Shur-Gain”) to its purchase by Nutreco, every decade and every product line the company has launched was represented.

In addition to the memorabilia, visitors could also visit and learn about Shur-Gain’s research barns for layers, broilers, turkeys, dairy and swine. While most of the barns could only be observed through a viewer window, the dairy facilities were open to visitors.  At each facility, Shur-Gain researchers from across Canada and the United States gave guests an overview of the types of research they complete within the facilities, and how it is done. The research is extremely varied, with scientists exploring everything from how best to improve feed conversion to evaluating a particular animal’s disease-fighting potential.

Poultry Research
The poultry research arm is conducted through Shur-Gain’s parent company, Nutreco Canada Inc., a division of Netherlands-based Nutreco, which purchased Shur-Gain from Maple Leaf Foods in 2007. Most research is conducted at the Nutreco Canada Agresearch Farm, Canada’s largest independently owned research farm, which also allows for commercial-scale trials. As well, some trials are completed at the company’s poultry facilities in Quebec, but are validated on-farm with participating producers across Canada to ensure that no biases exist with respect to genetics, management, health status or geographical location. Poultry research that has a global reach is also co-ordinated with Nutreco’s Poultry Research Centre in Spain.

The Nutreco Agresearch Farm includes a two-storey broiler barn, a layer barn, a turkey barn and a specialty broiler barn. The first floor of the broiler barn has 96 floor pens for the evaluation of feed and water technologies, and the second floor is commercial scale to validate the results of the trials. Pens allow trials to be conducted separately and validated for either cockerels or pullets.

The turkey barn also has pens (24 in total) to allow for separate-sex trials, brooder trials, and grow-out/finisher
trials. The layer barn consists of two identical rooms with three rows of cages four tiers high, for a total of 12,000 birds. It has an automatic egg collection and counting system to allow for egg quality and production studies.

The specialty broiler barn contains 64 small pens (that house 16 birds each) to allow for challenge studies. The birds can be inoculated with Eimeria (coccidiosis), or Clostridium (necrotic enteritis) potentially “challenging” their health to allow researchers to see how they perform with novel compounds, various diets (with and without antibiotics), and to see if and how the disease develops when different ingredients and feeding programs are used.

Results from research trials are used to create predicative mathematical models to allow Shur-Gain to provide its customers with increased animal health and performance. For example, Shur-Gain’s new Quick Start, Strong Finish program provides poultry producers with scientifically sound feeding programs, in addition to technological service, to ensure a good start to a flock and monitoring of barn management, as well as cocci load as the flock grows.

At the 75th anniversary gala, Kevin Weppler, the regional vice-president of Shur-Gain, said that the core concept of the company is the research, as well as the confidence that the customers hold in their product because of it.
“We don’t produce products and sell them to a customer without testing them first,” he said. “If it works here, it will work for you.”

With the world population to increase to nine billion by 2050, Jerry Vergeer, Nutreco’s chief operating officer of animal nutrition, said, the $25 million investment in research and development Nutreco makes each year will play an important role in helping farmers, Canadians and the world meet demand.

Wouat Dekker, the global CEO of Nutreco, told attendees that Nutreco’s name was formed from the words “nutrition, economy and ecology” and that Shur-Gain’s focus on these areas and its Canadian location will play a critical role in helping feed a growing world population.

“Canada has four times more land available and 10 times more water that the U.S., and it has four times more  land and two times more water than Brazil,” he said.

He added that, in addition to crops, animal products would also need to be improved. “We need to double the output and halve the negative effects.”

The penultimate speaker was the MPP for Oxford County, Ernie Hardeman, a former agriculture minister and Shur-Grain dealer. He emphasized the small disconnect between the government and farmers: the government wants to help farmers make a living, whereas farmers want more R&D.

The final speaker was Bruce Christie, a former long-time employee of Shur-Gain who is now chair of the Farm & Food Care Foundation. Instead of discussing the company as a whole, he spent time thanking individuals who made Shur-Gain the company it is. It was an emotional speech as Christie thanked former managers, innovators and staff of Shur-Gain.

History of Shur-Gain
Shur-Gain was founded in 1937 as part of Canada Packers Ltd. and is the largest and one of the oldest suppliers of livestock and poultry feed to Canadian farmers. Canada Packers was a Toronto-based meat processing company established in 1927 that also produced fertilizer from the meat scraps, blood and bone from its plants until the value of these byproducts as potential animal feed ingredients was realized.

Up to the 1930s, livestock were fed farm-grown grain rations where the protein and energy content varied, often resulting in slow growth or inefficient production. Additional protein and minerals from processing offal offered more balanced nutrition, and Canada Packers began producing meat, blood and bone meals for farmers and feed mills, several having the name “Shur-Gain.” The company purchased a farm in Downsview (near the location of the Toronto airport) in 1938 to test its products and feeding methods, beginning the company’s long history of supporting feed research with live
animal feeding.  

The Downsview farm had the Shur-Gain name, and was the first of three research farms. As Toronto expanded, the research farm was relocated to Maple, Ont., where once again expansion forced a move to its current 840-acre location in Burford in 1991.

Canada Packers sold the business to British-owned Hillsdown Holdings, who then sold Shur-Gain to Maple Leaf Foods to the Wallace-McCain family. In 2007, Shur-Gain was sold to Nutreco, an international animal nutrition and feed company.
The Burford Agresearch farm is certified by both the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the United States Food and Drug Administration and, along with Nutreco’s seven other research centres, houses the company’s global research program.

Published in Companies

If you are a grain producer, a grain user or a policy maker, it’s hard to think so far ahead, but it may be time to consider next year.

While more bad weather may still happen this year, much of the U.S. corn crop is already a weather-ravaged wreck and, with corn prices already in record territory, supplies heading into the next crop year will be tight.

The wheat supply situation will be better, but that provides little comfort because corn drives this bus. Feed wheat is being substituted for corn and if prices get high enough, wheat that could go for milling could end up in livestock rations.

Food prices are already reacting and the consensus is that North American food prices will rise about four per cent over the next 12 months. In more normal times, that would result in a shift in consumer consumption patterns. Consumers would go for less expensive cuts of meat, turn to less costly house brands and look for other ways to stabilize their spending.

But given high unemployment rates, stagnant incomes and rising gasoline prices many began doing that in 2008 and, given the painfully slow economic recovery across much of North America, have continued. In Europe, the situation is worse. And those are among the world’s richest places.

In poorer areas in Africa and elsewhere, the consequences of a spike in food prices is truly dire.

But as bad as that is, the world will likely struggle through. Next year is where the real risk lies. Stocks of grain and oilseeds will be tight before next year’s harvest and another crop disaster would be serious.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecasts feed grain stocks at 19.2 million metric tonnes or seven per cent of total domestic use in the U.S at the start of the 2013/14 crop year. In comparison, stocks for the 2010/11 crop year stocks were 48.1 million metric tonnes or 16 per cent of total domestic use. Meanwhile soybean stocks are forecast to be about half what they were in 2010/11.

Prices have surged. The USDA forecasts an average farm price for corn of $7.50 to $8.90 a bushel and an average farm price for soybeans of $15 to $17 a bushel this year.

Worldwide corn stocks are expected to begin next crop year 10 per cent lower than at the start of this crop year and represent a 14 per cent decline of total worldwide domestic use. Meanwhile wheat stocks are expected to fall to 25 per cent from about 30 per cent and the USDA’s forecast for the average farm price for wheat is up more than 20 per cent over last year.

For many Canadian grain producers this adds up to a big year – a good or decent crop and good to great prices. For Canadian livestock producers, especially hog and cattle producers, it adds to their suffering. Poultry producers will get relief from their cost of production formulae, but face the question of how consumers will act when faced with higher prices.

The bottom line in all this is that grain stocks will be down entering next crop year. Another smaller-than-expected worldwide harvest will make the situation worse and pull stocks down to unsustainable levels and necessitate significant changes in how much grain is used.

One can only hope that doesn’t come to pass and that an above-average crop develops. If it does, we shouldn’t waste the opportunity to set some aside in a world grain bank to offset the damage from the next crop crisis, which may come sooner and more frequently than we might like.

James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute, and his team have carried out an extensive and long-range study of climate change and found “extremes are actually becoming much more frequent and more intense worldwide.”

When the team plotted “the world’s changing temperatures on a bell curve, the extremes of unusually cool and, even more, the extremes of unusually hot are being altered, so they are becoming both more common and more severe.”

In effect, he wrote, the weather dice have been loaded. The likelihood of severe weather – especially hot weather – has increased and the likelihood of what would be considered normal weather has decreased.

In other words, the probabilities have shifted and Hansen attributes this to the actions of man. Even if you disagree with that attribution it is hard to disagree with the mathematics. Severe events are becoming more common and even if you conclude it is all part of nature, we should prepare.

One of the ways to prepare would be for the world to set aside part of the next bountiful harvest so that it’s available during the next disaster. This would moderate prices, which the grain producers who won the weather lottery might not like. But it would also raise prices in those years when everyone has a good crop, which livestock producers won’t like.

However, it would allow us to follow one of the oldest and wisest sayings: “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” 

Published in Consumer Issues

The key to the future of the poultry industry is a robust research program. The Canadian industry is fortunate to have access to a wide range of research expertise that can help us meet new challenges and find solutions to the problems we face. However, maintaining that pool of expertise requires injection of new scientists that pick up where retirees leave off. The Canadian Poultry Research Council (CPRC) promotes succession in our poultry research community by offering a scholarship program. The objectives of the
program are:

  • to encourage and support graduate students to carry out research in an aspect of poultry science
  • to build Canada’s intellectual capacity in poultry science
  • to promote graduate research in poultry science at Canadian universities

To be eligible for a CPRC scholarship award, a student must be studying (or planning to study) some aspect of poultry science. Applicants are assessed on a number of criteria, including academic performance, research aptitude, career goals and a demonstrated interest in poultry research.

Availability and Accessibility
A “postgraduate scholarship supplement” is available to students who hold a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) scholarship. Several excellent students have received supplements to their scholarships through this program since its inception in 2006. 

As of 2011, the CPRC scholarship is also available to non-NSERC scholars. This change opens the availability of the scholarship program to more students with an interest in poultry science.

Applications to either the scholarship or the supplement are due May 1 each year. Awards are $7,500 per year and are available to masters (eligible for one year) or doctoral level (eligible for up to two years) students. There is only one award available per year and details of the program including application requirements and information on past winners are available on the “Scholarship” section of the CPRC website.

And the winner is…
The 2012 CPRC Scholarship was awarded to Aman Deep. Aman was originally from India and he had an outstanding undergraduate record, graduating second in his class. He started a M.Sc. program in 2008 at the University of Saskatchewan under the tutelage of Dr. Hank Classen. Aman’s studies focused on the impact of light intensity on broiler productivity and welfare, and his results were published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and have been shared throughout the industry.

In 2011, Aman began a PhD program, also with Dr. Classen, looking at strategies to reduce chronic hunger in feed-restricted broiler breeders by including slowly digested ingredients in feed rations. Such ingredients have been shown to improve satiety in other species. Currently, Aman is examining the physiological and behavioural responses to diets containing field peas. His research has already revealed important effects of feeding broiler breeders these modified diets.

Aman earned a veterinary degree while in India and, during his time as a graduate student, completed the requirements to practice veterinary medicine here in Canada. Throughout his academic career, Aman has demonstrated a strong work ethic, dedication to teaching and aptitude for research. His combined veterinary and science training, skills and experience make Dr. Deep a valuable asset to the Canadian poultry industry.

For more details on any CPRC activities, please contact Bruce Roberts at The Canadian Poultry Research Council, 350 Sparks Street, Suite 1007, Ottawa, Ontario, K1R 7S8; phone: (613) 566-5916; fax: (613) 241-5999; e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; or visit us at

 The membership of the CPRC consists of the Chicken Farmers of Canada, the Canadian Hatching Egg Producers, the Turkey Farmers of Canada, the Egg Farmers of Canada and the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors’ Council. CPRC’s mission is to address its members’ needs through dynamic leadership in the creation and implementation of programs for poultry research in Canada, which may also include societal concerns.


Published in Housing

Sept. 13, 2012 - A paper recently published in the Journal of Animal Science helps researchers further understand how microbials and probiotics affect poultry health.

Researchers at the North Carolina State University and Chung Jen College of Nursing, Health Sciences and Management (Taiwan) conducted a study to investigate the effects of direct fed microbials on energy metabolism in different tissues of broiler chickens. The researchers wanted to learn how consuming microbials and probiotics could change energy use and immune function. Typically, direct fed microbials and probiotics are used to improve livestock health, but how they actually work is not fully understood.

These findings could have long standing implications as producers feel the pressure to move away from the sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics.

"Microbials are not a direct replacement [for sub-therapeutic antibiotics] but an opportunity through a different mechanism," said Matthew Koci, coauthor of the study and assistant professor in the department of poultry science at North Carolina State University.

In the study, 192 one-day-old broiler chicks were assigned to two different diets. One of the diets was a standard control starter diet (CSD) and the other was a CSD with direct fed microbials (DFMD). The researchers then injected twelve broilers from each diet group with sheep red blood cells at days seven, 14 and 21. The presence of sheep red blood cells challenged the chicks' immune systems without actually causing illness.

"We wanted to give the immune system something to respond to and didn't want to change the metabolism with a disease," said Koci.

Researchers measured several parameters, including body weight, whole-body energy expenditure, tissue respiration rates, and energy metabolism.

Over a 28-day period, the researchers found no difference in body weight or feed efficiency between broilers fed CSD or DFMD. In fact, there was no difference between the two treatments in any of the response criteria.

But Koci believes there may have been something going on behind the scenes. He theorizes that the interaction between direct fed microbial species and intestinal cells results in a change in the energy consumption in the small intestine. This leads to an increase in the amount of energy available to the immune system. The results of the present experiment are the first to indicate that direct fed microbials leads to increased energy expenditures by the immune system.

Through some unknown mechanism, broilers fed the microbial diet may have a faster, not better, response in their immune system. The DFMD was not promoting growth, but under disease stress, the bird would be able to get back to optimal growth in fewer days than birds not fed microbials.

Koci cautioned that individual producers may see different results from microbial use in the diet depending on the production system. He also said that not all body tissues were studied, so there could be energy directed toward other tissues that were not accounted for.

In the future, the researchers are looking to study which mechanism or microbial is directly responsible for immune responses.

"We hope to look at the physiological effects and trace them back to the signaling pathway," said Koci.

Published in Broilers

Subscription Centre

New Subscription
Already a Subscriber
Customer Service
View Digital Magazine Renew

Most Popular

Latest Events

No events

We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. To find out more, read our Privacy Policy.