Aug. 9, 2012, Salvador, Brazil - Over 80 poultry professionals gathered in Salvador, Brazil for the Alltech Poultry Technical Roundtable ahead of the 24th World Poultry Congress. The theme of the meeting was “From Good to Great: Tapping the Power of Nutrition to Achieve Genetic Potential.” Four speakers of international renown challenged the attendees to think differently about poultry nutrition.

Global Poultry Director for Alltech, Paulo Rigolin, said “Brazil succeeded in overcoming major obstacles over the past 30 years to become a significant player in today's global market. However as the marketplace becomes more consolidated, the industry as a whole faces similar new challenges, many of which can only be tackled by rethinking poultry nutrition.”

Dr. Gonzalo González Mateos, from the Polytechnic University of Madrid, Spain, emphasized that poultry production is changing very rapidly and the industry needs to adapt to this situation. Amino acids, feed conversion ratio and energy are still very important, but we should begin to focus on other areas now. In particular, his comments regarding the potential threats caused by thermal treatments such as pelleting and expanders dominated much of the discussion during the breakout session that followed.

In his talk on breeder nutrition, Dr. Carlos Borges, formerly of Perdigao, told attendees that genetic evolution must be accompanied by nutritional adjustments in broiler breeders. Dr. Borges referenced the main benefits of using enzymes in breeders, such as the reduction of pathogenic bacteria and improvement in stool quality. This in turn results in fewer dirty eggs and less contamination of the eggs and chicks in the incubator.

Dr. Fernando Rutz, University of Pelotas, who spoke to the attendees on early nutrition, highlighted that nutritional advancement has not kept pace with advancements in genetic selection and therefore does not yield the benefits perceived by consumers. In addition Dr. Rutz said, “Epigenetics, in-ovo nutrition and post-hatch dietary conditioning are the keys for programming the genetic expression potential for breeder, embryo and chick nutrition.”

Veterinarian Mueez Ahmad, of Neogen, spoke on the subject of intestinal health management and shared insights into his program for raising antibiotic free (ABF) broilers. In his talk, Dr Ahmad touched on the challenges of fighting diseases such as runting and stunting syndrome (RSS) and clostridial related problems such as Necrotic Enteritis without in-feed antibiotics. In addition to an intestinal health management program including organic acids, probiotics and novel yeast carbohydrates (Actigen), Ahmad also listed nutrition, water and flock management as the cornerstones of his strategy to ensure the birds remain healthy and perform optimally.

Commenting on the meeting, Aidan Connolly, Vice President Corporate Accounts, Alltech, said, “We must question the consequences of all nutritional decisions, even received wisdoms. Rarely do conferences reunite representatives of chicken production from 32 countries and provide a blue skies vision of poultry production in the next 20 years.”

Published in Nutrition and Feed

Aug. 7, 2012, Champaign, IL - Researchers at Purdue University have determined the amount of metabolizable energy available to young broiler chickens from dried corn distillers grains (DDG) and dried corn distillers grains with solubles (DDGS). The results of their study appear in an article in a recent issue of Poultry Science, a journal of the Poultry Science Association (PSA).

Currently, more than 35% of the annual U.S. corn crop is being used for ethanol production, resulting in less and more expensive corn for use in diets for poultry and other livestock. As a result, poultry growers have turned to DDG and, more often, DDGS, both byproducts of the ethanol production process, to provide an economically affordable substitute. The challenge, however, has been to accurately determine the energy content of these fermentation byproducts.

“The energy and nutrients of different components of the feed are extracted at different parts of the bird’s digestive tract, and not all of the energy in the feed is actually available to the bird. For example, when feed moves from the ileum to the cecum and large intestine, microbes in the gut will extract a significant portion of the nutrients for their own energy needs. It turns out that the most accurate measure of the energy in DDG and DDGS available to the bird is the “ileal digestible energy” or IDE, most of which can be utilized by the animal. Hence, determining the IDE value was the focus of our research,” said Dr. Layi Adeola, the article’s lead author and a professor in Purdue’s Department of Animal Sciences.

IDE reflects the energy digested and absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract up to the ileum.

In addition to IDE, the researchers determined the metabolizable energy (ME) and nitrogen-corrected metabolizable energy (MEn) contents of corn DDG and DDGS. All determinations were for 6-week-old broiler chickens using a multiple linear regression method. In each case the researchers found a roughly 500 kcal-per-kg of DM (dry matter) difference between DDG and DDGS, with DDGS having the higher value:

IDE (kcal/kg) 2,428 2,922 494
ME (kcal/kg) 2,279 2,800 521
MEn (kcal/kg) 2,176 2,688 512

In an earlier study, the authors studied the ME and MEn using 3-week-old broilers and found significant differences compared with the current study, leading them to conclude that the ability of broilers to extract energy from these byproducts varies with age.

Considerations for Growers – Fat Content

Studies have shown that when the solubles are added back to corn DDG, the fat content rises from approximately 8% to 10.5% in corn DDGS. Due to the significant increase in fat prices concomitant with the increase in the cost of corn, some DDGS producers are skimming off some of the oil and selling it directly to growers rather than adding it back to DDGS.

“The result,” said Dr. Adeola, “is that the fat content of DDGS on the market is getting progressively lower – down from around 10% to just 4-5%, which of course impacts the amount of energy that will be available to the bird. The DDGS in our study had a fat content of around 10%, so growers should keep this in mind and be aware of the fat content of the DDGS that they are buying. Given that fat is not preferentially used as an energy source by gut microbes, it will be interesting to see in future studies if the differential in IDE and MEn of fat extracted DDGS is similar to what was observed in high oil products.”

About PSA

The Poultry Science Association (PSA) is a global scientific society dedicated to the discovery and dissemination of knowledge generated by poultry research – knowledge that enhances human and animal health and well-being, and provides for the ethical, sustainable, and economical production of food. Founded in 1908, PSA has a global membership of about 1,300. For more information, go to

Published in Nutrition and Feed

Aug. 2, 2012 - More than 250 veterinarians and poultry production specialists from 36 countries in Europe, the Middle East, North and South America and Africa participated in the Merial Avian Forum in Italy's capital city in early July.

The Forum provided an opportunity to share updates on avian immunosuppressive diseases and novel vector vaccine technology.

"Merial strongly believes in bringing new information and educational programs to the avian industry, while providing a forum for sharing veterinary field experience across the globe to improve poultry health and production" said Jérôme Baudon, Head of Global Strategic Marketing Avian.

One of Merial's firm commitments in the avian field is to form relationships with its customers. Over the course of the three-day Forum, participants heard presentations on the latest science relating to poultry immunity from a dozen world-recognized experts in their respective fields. Subjects ranged from the basics of the avian immune system, the devastating effects of Infectious Bursal Disease (IBD) and Marek's Disease (MD) on chickens, and control of the disease, as well as an overview of the history of vaccine development and a preview of future developments.

"The control of IBD and MD remains one of the key challenges in the reduction of immune suppression", said Dr. Thomas Zwercher, Merial's Marketing Director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. "But better control methods are being developed, both in classical vaccines and using new technology, including the first vector vaccine, VAXXITEK HVT+IBD, developed by Merial and now licensed for use in more than 65 countries," he said.

The theme of the Forum was "One protection is not enough." "The immune system represents a key asset to build a solid protection against a series of infectious agents and to preserve optimal health status, said Zwercher.

Dr. Francesco Prandini, Technical Manager for Merial EMEA and Professor Silke Rautenschlein (Hannover University) presented new data validating that VAXXITEK HVT+IBD is the only existing vaccine which brings proven protection to the immune system of broilers and layers, fulfilling the final objective where birds fully express their genetic potential and achieve the best performance and return on investment for producers." This was confirmed in the field, according to reports in a Round Table session, in which customers from China, Brazil, Egypt, Spain, the United Kingdom and France enthusiastically highlighted the economic benefits of using VAXXITEK HVT+IBD vaccine in broilers and layers. "Since its first launch in 2006 in Brazil, it is estimated that over 19 billion chickens have been vaccinated worldwide with VAXXITEK HVT+IBD."

Merial is a Sanofi company. For more information, please visit:

Published in Health

Jul. 30, 2012, Ottawa, ON - The Public Health Agency of Canada has launched its video series Something you ate?The four-part series explains how the Agency detects and investigates outbreaks of foodborne illness, also commonly known as food poisoning.

The first two episodes are now available.

Episode 1: Outbreak Response--The Big Picture (response summary)
Episode 2: Tracking the Source (epidemiological investigation)

The videos were developed to help Canadians understand how an investigation into outbreaks of foodborne illness unfolds. They can be viewed individually, but together they tell the full story of our outbreak response and explain how people can protect themselves against illness.

The videos will be released on the PHAC website and YouTube channel on a weekly basis. We invite you to watch and share them with your audiences through your social media networks as well as through traditional streams.

Each video will be supported by extra web material, including links to our new fact sheets on pathogens, interactive material and the Government of Canada food safety web portal.

Watch for new episodes on these dates:

August 3--Episode 3: Tales from the Lab (lab investigation)
August 10--Episode 4:  Protecting Yourself (food safety tips)

Published in Turkeys

Jul. 30, 2012, New York, NY - Rabobank has published a new Q3 report looking at the challenges facing the global poultry industry as a consequence of the recent, dramatic run-up in feed input costs due primarily to deteriorating crop conditions in the United States. The low stock levels in global grain and oilseed markets render these markets very sensitive for short term changes in supply and demand.

The report, authored by Rabobank's Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory group, says that poultry industries all over the world are now facing margin pressures, and only a few regions can escape this new challenging situation. Russian suppliers are now partly being compensated by subsidies, and the U.S. industry is reaping the benefits of recent production cut-backs, which have greatly improved U.S. market balance and should give the industry more power to pass on higher costs to customers. Still, the report says, poultry companies in all regions are facing shrinking margins despite relatively high beef and pork prices.

Rabobank outlines the key elements that will enable the global poultry industry to deal with current market dynamics

  1. adequate industry discipline
  2. efficiency
  3. market power
  4. risk management

Rabobank concludes in its report that these elements are proven to be the key ingredients for the poultry industry to escape the volatile environment of high input costs.

About Rabobank

Rabobank Group is a global financial services leader providing wholesale and retail banking, asset management, leasing, real estate services, and renewable energy project financing. Founded over a century ago, Rabobank is one of the largest banks in the world, with nearly $1 trillion in assets and operations in more than 40 countries, and is among the highest rated private banks by S&P and Moody's. Internationally Rabobank focuses on food and agriculture and in North America it is a premier bank to the food, beverage and agribusiness industry.  Rabobank's Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory group is comprised of more than 80 analysts around the world who provide expert analysis, insight and counsel to Rabobank clients about trends, issues and developments in all major sectors of agriculture. For more information, visit

Published in Researchers

Jul. 30, 2012, Fresno, CA - Fresno State has broken ground on the new Foster Farms Poultry Education and Research Facility, set to open in time for the spring semester in 2013.

According to the Fresno State website, the 16,000 square-foot building will be a state-of-the-art educational facility donated by Fresno Farms with a focus on eco-friendly research and poultry production. The building will be used by faculty and students in the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.

“Our students and faculty are thrilled about this exciting addition to our college,” said Dr. Charles Boyer, dean of the Jordan College. “The center will allow students to perform in-depth research, participate in hands-on learning and gain job skills in one of the leading agricultural industries.”

For more information on the new building and its construction, please visit the Fresno State website.

Published in Housing

Jul. 23, 2012, College Station, TX - The National Association for the Advancement of Animal Science is focused on improving funding for animal agricultural research.

According to an article in AgriLife Today, the association is composed of university department heads from across the U.S. from the animal, dairy and poultry science departments. The new association will work with other groups to advocate for increased funding for animal sciences.

“Federal funding for research, education and extension in the animal sciences has remained stagnant over the last 30 years," said Dr. Russell Cross, president of the association and head of the animal science department at Texas A&M University.

For more information on the association and its goals, see the complete article on AgriLife Today.


Published in Researchers

Jul. 20, 2012 - The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) today posted a new issue of Healthy Animals. This quarterly online newsletter compiles ARS news and expert resources on the health and well-being of agricultural livestock, poultry and fish.

Each quarter, one article in Healthy Animals focuses on a particular element of ARS animal research. The current issue takes a look at some of the alternatives to antibiotics that scientists are using to enhance animal health and production.

Other research highlighted in this issue includes:

  • Details about a new vaccine that reduces mortality and severity of Newcastle disease symptoms in poultry.
  • Progress being made to develop vaccines that protect cattle against anaplasmosis.

Professionals interested in animal health issues might want to bookmark the site as a resource for locating animal health experts. An index lists ARS research locations covering 70 animal health topics. These range from specific diseases, such as Lyme disease, to broad subjects such as nutrition or parasites.

The site also provides complete contact information for the 25 ARS research groups that conduct studies aimed at protecting and improving farm animal health.

For more information, see the entire article posted here.

ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Published in Biosecurity

Jul. 18, 2012, Burford, ON - A crowd of 800 employees, retired employees, dealer owners and operators, suppliers, farmers and dignitaries from five countries and three continents came together to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Shur-Gain on July 11 at Nutreco Canada's research farm in Burford.

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. Today, it is an integral part of Nutreco Canada Inc., Canada's leading animal nutrition company.

Greeting attendees from across Canada, the United States, Europe and South America, Jerry Vergeer, Chief Operating Officer of Animal Nutrition for Nutreco, described the anniversary as a "milestone event". He added that the research farm was the logical place to host the celebration given that it is the largest corporately-owned facility of its kind in Canada. Said Vergeer, "Research and innovation has been the foundation of Shur-Gain for its 75 year history."

The farm is certified by both the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and along with the company's seven other research centres, houses the company's global research program.

Guests toured through the farm's dairy, swine, laying hen and broiler chicken research barns throughout the afternoon, hearing from many of the company's leading researchers. Kevin Weppler, Vice President, Central and West Regions, said that the research farm epitomizes the commitment of Shur-Gain to quality feed products. "Nothing goes out to our customers until it's been tested here and proven that it works. That gives us total confidence in saying that if it works here, it will work for you."

Wout Dekker, Chief Executive Officer for Nutreco, told the audience that Nutreco's name was formed from the words "Nutrition, Economy and Ecology" and said that Shur-Gain's focus in all three of these areas will play a critical role in helping to feed a growing world population. Said Dekker, "I'm an optimist and I'm convinced we can feed nine billion people. Canada will play an instrumental role in that." Dekker challenged guests to continue to "work on making our industry more sustainable", explaining that Canada has far more land and available water supply, per capita, than other leading agricultural countries like the United States , Brazil and China. What that means, he said, is that Canada has both great opportunities and great responsibilities in doing its part to meet this growing demand. Attendees also had an opportunity to visit a specially-prepared exhibit of memorabilia from the last seventy-five years. This was followed by a barbecue dinner featuring Canadian beef, pork, chicken, eggs and milk.

About Nutreco Canada

Nutreco Canada is a leading animal nutrition company that invests in research, development and technology application to deliver superior results for producers. Its brands, Shur-Gain and Landmark Feeds, offer a wide range of livestock and poultry nutrition and health solutions.

Published in Nutrition and Feed

Jul. 17, 2012, Tucker, GA - In a letter to the editor of Men’s Journal, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association and the National Chicken Council this week wrote to share viewpoints about the magazine’s reporting in its July 2012 edition about its preference for organic over conventionally raised chicken, that alluded to a recent feather meal study and claims of nutritional superiority (read the original press release here).

John Glisson, DVM, MAM, Ph.D., director of research programs at the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association and Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., vice president of science and technology at the National Chicken Council, offered a scientific perspective on the claims that certain chemical and antimicrobial residues were found in chicken “feather meal,” and thus are fed to chickens.

For instance, the study in question used a small sample size from 4 lb. and 22 lb. bags of feather meal. “The U.S. poultry industry does not use 4 lb. and 22 lb. bags of feather meal in its commercial feed formulations, and industry experts speculate that the material in these bags were intended to be used as organic fertilizer and not as a source of feed,” Glisson and Peterson wrote. “Furthermore, the study failed to address other potential delivery mechanisms for these types of substances, such as potable water.”

The letter seeks to remind Men’s Journal readers that all chicken produced in the United States is inspected by the USDA, and inspectors test chicken meat samples for chemical and antimicrobial residues so that all poultry is in compliance with USDA standards before it is allowed to enter the marketplace.

“We know consumers have many choices when it comes to their chicken meat purchases,” the letter continued. “However, we do not believe it serves consumers to stigmatize certain production systems to boost others.

“The amazing variety of chicken products today allows consumers to choose products that take into account many factors, including taste preference, personal values and affordability. Your readers should know, however, that USDA says the ‘organic’ label does not indicate that the product has safety, quality or nutritional attributes that are any higher than traditionally raised products.

“All chicken production systems, including organic, natural, and conventional methods, address issues as necessary to achieve its primary objective – the commitment to provide consumers with safe, wholesome and affordable food. The chicken industry works diligently to ensure that no matter which production system they choose to support with their food dollars, consumers can have confidence in the safety and nutrition of all of their chicken purchases,” concluded the letter.

The letter can be viewed here:

About U.S. Poultry & Egg Association

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.

About the National Chicken Council

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce and process chickens. Member companies of NCC account for more than 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

Published in Producers

Jul. 16, 2012, Washngton, DC - It is "imperative" that the U.S. build a large-animal biocontainment laboratory toprotect animal and public health, says a new report by the National Research Council.  Two options that could meet long-term needs include the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) facility as currently designed, or a scaled-back version tied to a distributed laboratory network.  Until such a facility opens that is authorized to work with highly contagious foot-and-mouth disease, the Plum Island Animal Disease Center located off Long Island should remain in operation to address ongoing needs.  The report concludes that there are important drawbacks for the U.S., should it rely solely on international laboratories to meet large animal Biosafety Level 4 needs in the long term. 

The proposed NBAF in Manhattan, Kan., would be the world's fourth Biosafety Level 4 laboratory capable of large animal research and would replace the aging Plum Island facility.  NBAF would study highly contagious foreign animal diseases -- including foot-and-mouth disease, which affects cattle, pigs, deer, and other cloven-hoofed animals -- as well as emerging and new diseases that can be transmitted between animals and people. However, given the estimated cost of $1.14 billion to construct NBAF at the proposed site and the country's current fiscal challenges, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security requested that the National Research Council analyze whether three options could meet the nation's laboratory infrastructure needs.

The three options as stipulated by DHS were: constructing NBAF as designed, constructing a "scaled-back" version of NBAF, and maintaining current capabilities at Plum Island Animal Disease Center.  Because the Plum Island facilities do not have large animal Biosafety Level 4 capacity -- containment of agents that are potentially life-threatening to humans and pose a high risk of transmission -- this type of work would have to be conducted at foreign laboratories.  

The scope of the committee's analysis was limited to examining the three options and explicitly excluded an assessment of specific site locations for the proposed laboratory facility; therefore, the report neither compares relative risks of the three options nor determines where foot-and-mouth disease research can be safely conducted.  In addition, the committee concluded that to most appropriately fill laboratory needs, all factors of concern will need to be considered in a more comprehensive assessment.

The report concludes that DHS' first option -- NBAF as currently designed -- includes all components of the ideal laboratory infrastructure in a single location and has been designed to meet the current and anticipated future mission needs of DHS and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.  However, the proposed facility also has drawbacks, including substantial costs associated with construction, operation, and management; and not leveraging existing capacity at other containment laboratories in the U.S.

Regarding the second option, the report finds that a partnership between a central national laboratory of reduced scope and size and a distributed laboratory network can effectively protect the United States from foreign animal and zoonotic diseases, potentially realize cost savings, reduce redundancies while increasing efficiencies, and enhance the cohesiveness of a national system of biocontainment laboratories.  However, the cost implications of reducing the scope and capacity of a central facility are not known.

In its assessment of the third option, the report says that maintaining the Plum Island Animal Disease Center and leveraging foreign laboratories for large animal Biosafety Level 4 needs would avoid the costs of constructing a new replacement facility.  However, the facilities at Plum Island do not meet current standards for high biocontainment.  Given the uncertainty over priorities of a foreign laboratory and logistical difficulties in an emergency, it would not be desirable for the United States to rely on international laboratories to meet these needs in the long term. 

The report adds that because foot-and-mouth disease research remains critical for the U.S. animal health system, it will be essential to maintain the Plum Island facility until an alternative facility is authorized, constructed, commissioned, and approved for work with the virus.

Regardless of the options considered for a central facility, the report recommends that DHS and USDA develop and implement an integrated national strategy that utilizes a distributed system for addressing foreign animal and zoonotic disease threats.  The capital costs associated with maintaining or constructing modern laboratory facilities should be balanced with the need to support research priorities.  Therefore, it is critical for DHS and USDA to develop solutions that strike a balance between facilities costs and the research and development effort needed to protect American agriculture and public health. 

Pre-publication copies of the report can be attained here.

The study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies.  They are independent, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under an 1863 congressional charter.  Panel members, who serve pro bono as volunteers, are chosen by the Academies for each study based on their expertise and experience and must satisfy the Academies' conflict-of-interest standards.  The resulting consensus reports undergo external peer review before completion.  For more information, visit

Published in Turkeys

Jul. 16, 2012, St. Louis, MO - During the Poultry Science Association (PSA) annual meeting held in Athens, Georgia, Novus International, Inc. presented two prestigious awards – the Outstanding Scholar and Teaching Awards.

Recipients of each award are recognized for their exceptional work both within and outside the classroom, along with their contributions to the Poultry Industry. This year's honorees are two leading professors of poultry science and nutrition; Dr. Craig N. Coon and Dr. Christopher D. McDaniel, respectively.

Outstanding Scholar Award

Novus collaborates with university research scientists to further nutrition research. As a means to formally recognize the value of these collaborative efforts, Novus established the Outstanding Scholar Award.

Dr. Craig N. Coon was recognized as the 2012 Outstanding Scholar for his accomplishments during a remarkable 40-year career serving the Poultry Industry. Dr. Coon is a professor and poultry nutritionist in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Dr. Coon teaches Principles of Nutrition to undergraduates, and teaches graduate-level courses in Biochemical Nutrition and Amino Acid and Protein Nutrition and Metabolism. His published work includes more than 250 refereed papers and nine book chapters. Dr. Coon is often invited to speak at national and international poultry meetings; he's delivered more than 300 presentations in 43 different countries.

"I'm humbled by this recognition," said Dr. Coon. "The University of Arkansas has fully supported my work and allowed me the opportunity to travel throughout the world to work with poultry producers; to help them solve their nutritional needs. I'd also like to thank Novus for sponsoring this award – it's a huge honor."

Teaching Award

The poultry industry is fortunate to have a wealth of talented research scientists and nutritionists who are dedicated to furthering advancements in poultry nutrition and production. The PSA has a peer-review committee established to honor an exceptional academic each year for the totality of their contributions toward research and student instruction.

Dr. Christopher D. McDaniel was presented with the 2012 Novus International Teaching Award during an awards banquet at the PSA Meeting in Athens, Georgia. Dr. McDaniel is a professor and poultry scientist in the Department of Poultry Science at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi.

Dr. McDaniel designs and teaches courses in avian reproduction, management of commercial layers and commercial poultry production. He is extensively involved in both undergraduate and graduate research training, along with direct supervisory instruction of graduate students. His illustrious accomplishments extend far beyond the classroom. Dr. McDaniel's service includes recognition as a Bettersworth Leadership Lecturer for Mississippi State University, Subject Editor for the Journal of Applied Poultry Research, and presenting research findings at scientific and industry meetings.

"I'm deeply honored to receive this award," said Dr. McDaniel. "To be recognized by my peers for doing the very things that I enjoy and am passionate about means a great deal. I'm grateful for Mississippi State's support, the wonderful and talented students that I'm fortunate to work with, the support and encouragement of my fellow research poultry scientists, and Novus for sponsoring the award."

"We're delighted to have the opportunity each year to recognize the accomplishments of leading poultry scientists and nutritionists," stated Dr. Scott Carter, Global Market Manager, Poultry, with Novus. "Dr. Coon and Dr. McDaniel are two of the industry's finest. We look forward to continuing to work with them and drawing upon their expertise for many years to come."

About Novus International, Inc.

Novus International, Inc. is a global leader in developing animal health and nutrition solutions based on science. Novus offers a broad range of essential nutrients that enable animals to grow to their genetic potential. For more information about how Novus is sustainably helping to feed the world affordable, wholesome food and achieve a higher quality of life, visit

Published in Researchers

« J’ai rêvé de travailler en nutrition animale et j’ai rêvé d’avoir une ferme. Quand on s’accroche à nos rêves, on finit par les réaliser. » Voilà 30 ans que Martine Bourgeois est conseillère en nutrition chez Shur-Gain et 20 ans qu’elle est productrice d’oeufs. Elle a aussi élevé quatre enfants, piloté de nombreux projets de recherche et multiplié les engagements bénévoles.

En mars dernier, elle est devenue l’une des cinq lauréates du prix Rosemary-Davis 2012, décerné par Financement agricole Canada. Cet honneur, réservé à des femmes qui se distinguent par leurs réalisations professionnelles et leur engagement en agriculture et agroalimentaire, est une fleur qu’elle reçoit avec le large sourire qu’on lui connaît. « Nous sommes beaucoup de femmes à travailler en agriculture, dit-elle. C’est important qu’on reconnaisse leur travail. »

Canadian Poultry magazine a rencontré Martine Bourgeois à la Ferme St-Ours, qu’elle dirige avec son conjoint Serge Lefebvre et sa soeur, Chantal Bourgeois. Située le long de la rivière Richelieu, la ferme porte le nom du village. Elle est bien connue des résidents du coin et des nombreux campeurs qui y passent l’été. Ils s’y procurent des oeufs frais du jour, choisis à même ceux qui arrivent directement du poulailler, sur un convoyeur à quelques pas derrière le comptoir de vente!

La Ferme St-Ours comprend aussi les fermes Avistar, Avitech, Aviterra et des Patriotes. Chacune a son gérant de ferme, pour un total d’environ 25 employés. Chacune a aussi une ou plusieurs vocations, qu’il s’agisse de production d’oeufs blancs ou bruns, d’oeufs biologiques, d’oeufs Oméga-3, d’oeufs d’incubation pour le poulet, de poulettes conventionnelles ou de poulettes biologiques.

L’entreprise comprend aussi des terres, dont la très grande partie est en régie biologique (quelques acres sont en transition pour devenir certifiés biologiques), ainsi qu’une érablière détenant une certification biologique. 

En 2010, les trois copropriétaires recevaient la médaille d’or de l’Ordre national du mérite agricole, la plus haute distinction en agriculture au Québec. « Mes grands-parents paternels avaient obtenu la même médaille d’or en 1951, souligne Martine Bourgeois. Cinquante-neuf ans plus tard, c’est au tour de leurs petites filles! »

À l’époque, rien ne laissait présager que la ferme laitière familiale deviendrait un jour une entreprise avicole avant-gardiste. Martine Bourgeois se souvient des nombreuses fois où elle est allée retrouver son grand-père à l’érablière après l’école, ou qu’elle allait chercher les vaches au pâturage avec son père.  

« À 14 ans, c’était clair pour moi : je voulais vivre de l’agriculture, raconte-t-elle. J’ai demandé à mon père de penser à ses filles pour la relève. »

Ses parents étant encore jeunes pour transférer la ferme à leurs enfants, Martine Bourgeois a complété des études en agriculture au Campus Macdonald de l’Université McGill et est devenue agronome nutritionniste à l’embauche de Shur-Gain. En 1986, elle accepte un poste spécialisé en nutrition avicole. « J’ai décidé de relever le défi et d’apprendre. J’ai suivi plusieurs formations à l’extérieur et participé à de nombreuses conférences et congrès sur la nutrition avicole, où souvent, il y avait très peu de femmes. » 

Passionnée par l’élaboration de nouveaux programmes d’alimentation et les projets de recherche qui l’amènent à côtoyer des collègues du Canada et de l’étranger, elle entretient malgré tout le rêve de posséder sa propre ferme. En 1993, avec son conjoint et sa soeur, un audacieux projet est présenté à ses parents : convertir la ferme laitière familiale en élevage de poules pondeuses. « Mes parents ont été très ouverts et ils ont accepté! C’est comme ça qu’a commencé notre aventure agricole. »

Depuis, l’entreprise a connu une croissance soutenue, tout en se distinguant par ses productions de niche. La Ferme des Patriotes est notamment la plus importante entreprise de production d’oeufs biologiques au Canada. Et au cours des dernières années, on s’est lancé dans la culture de tournesols, pour la production d’huile végétale biologique, vendue aussi en vinaigrette. « Cette une plante qui est tellement belle, souligne notre agronome agricultrice. Les gens du coin apprécient beaucoup. »

La boutique de la Ferme St-Ours est ouverte tous les matins, même la fin de semaine. On y trouve des oeufs frais, ainsi que des produits de l’érable biologiques et de tournesol biologiques. « Cela représente une partie infime de nos revenus, mais nous le faisons par plaisir, dit Martine Bourgeois. Les gens posent beaucoup de question sur la production avicole. C’est important d’avoir un contact avec les consommateurs et de les informer sur l’agriculture d’aujourd’hui. »

Tandis que Serge se concentre sur la gestion, les élevages et les cultures, Chantal s’occupe de la comptabilité et Martine coordonne les programmes alimentaires et vaccination, la boutique et la production de produits transformés à base d’érable et d’huile de tournesol.

Carrière en nutrition
En tant que directrice, nutrition et développement avicole chez Shur-Gain au Québec, Martine Bourgeois poursuit une carrière aussi passionnante qu’à ses débuts. 

Elle a développé et mis en application des programmes de nutrition entre autres pour la production d’oeufs enrichis d’acides gras Oméga 3, d’oeufs biologiques, d’oeufs à la fois biologiques et Oméga 3, de poulets alimentés « végétal », de poulets sans antimicrobiens, d’œufs d’incubation, de dindons,  de canards et oies, pintades, cailles et faisans. Les objectifs sont toujours les mêmes : améliorer la santé des animaux et leur efficacité alimentaire, réduire l’impact des élevages sur l’environnement et améliorer la rentabilité des élevages. 

Son travail l’amène à côtoyer les nutritionnistes des autres provinces, parfois même de d’autre pays. C’est avec des chercheurs du réseau de Nutreco (la compagnie mère de Shur-Gain) en Espagne qu’elle a mis au point récemment le programme ÉCOPONTE, qui se veut à la fois écologique et économique. L’apport en protéines brutes est diminué tout en maintenant la production d’oeufs, ce qui réduit à la fois les coûts de production et les rejets d’azote, explique-t-elle. 

Sa double charge de travail, à la ferme et chez Shur-Gain, ne l’a pas empêchée de présider le Rendez-vous avicole de l’AQINAC, de siéger au comité avicole du CRAAQ et à quelques comités de  l’Ordre des agronomes du Québec ou suivre de près l’apprentissage scolaire de ses enfants.   

Rendue à 30 ans de métier, Martine Bourgeois réalise à quel point les valeurs transmises par ses parents lui ont servi : ouverture sur le monde, écoute, travail bien fait et poursuite des rêves. Elle souhaite maintenant transmettre ses connaissances à ses collègues techniciens et conseillers en nutrition, tout en les encourageant à se bâtir des réseaux et à se procurer l’information de pointe où qu’elle se trouve dans le monde. 

Ses deux filles, ses deux garçons ainsi que les trois garçons de sa soeur Chantal auront une place à la ferme s’ils souhaitent y revenir après leurs études et après avoir acquis quelques expériences professionnelles, affirme-t-elle. Ils ont tous participé aux activités de la ferme, et participent encore. « La porte est ouverte. On ne sait jamais ce que la vie nous réserve! »

Published in Producers

"I dreamt of working in animal nutrition and I dreamt of having a farm. When one hangs on to dreams, they come true.”

Martine Bourgeois has now been working in animal nutrition for 30 years and producing eggs for 20 years. She has also raised four children, spearheaded several research projects and volunteered on several industry committees.

Last March, Bourgeois became one of five 2012 Rosemary Davis Award winners. This honour is awarded by Farm Credit Canada to women who are active leaders in agriculture and agri-food. “There are a lot of women working in agriculture. It’s important to recognize their contribution,” she says with her usual big smile.

Canadian Poultry magazine met Bourgeois at Ferme St-Ours, one of the egg farms she co-owns with her husband Serge Lefebvre and her sister Chantal Bourgeois. Located along the Richelieu River, near the village of Saint-Ours (one hour east of Montreal), the farm is well known to local residents and campers who spend the summer on the riverbank. Every morning, they can purchase day-fresh eggs, selected off the conveyor belt from the henhouse.

Ferme St-Ours comprises the following farms: Avistar, Avitech, Aviterra and des Patriotes. Each has a farm manager, for a total of 25 employees, as well as one or two specialized productions: white or brown eggs, organic eggs, omega-3 eggs, broiler hatching eggs, regular replacement pullets or organic replacement pullets.

The family business also includes farmland, most of it under organic certification (a few acres are in transition to organic), as well as an organic maple sugar shack.

In 2010, the three co-owners received the gold medal of the ‘Ordre national du mérite agricole du Quebec,’ the most prestigious award in Quebec agriculture. “My grandparents had received the same medal in 1951,” Bourgeois says. “Fifty-nine years later, it’s their granddaughters’ turn!”

No one would have predicted back then that the family dairy farm would become a flourishing poultry operation. Bourgeois remembers the times she would find her grandfather at the sugar shack after school or when she would fetch the cows from the pasture with her father.

“When I was 14, I already knew I wanted to work in agriculture. I asked my father to consider his daughters for a farm transfer.”

Because her parents were still too young to start a transfer to the next generation, Bourgeois completed a degree in agriculture at McGill University’s Macdonald Campus, became an agronomist and started working as a nutritionist for Shur-Gain.

In 1986, she was offered a position in poultry nutrition. “I decided to take up the challenge. I went to several training sessions and to many poultry conferences abroad, where there were very few women.”

Bourgeois worked with passion, setting up new feed programs and managing research projects, all the while holding on to her dream of having her own farm. In 1993, with her husband and her sister, a daring project was presented to her parents – converting the family’s dairy farm in a layer farm. “My parents were very open and they accepted!” Bourgeois says. “That’s how our farming adventure started!”

Ferme St-Ours has grown substantially since then, standing out of the crowd with its niche productions. Ferme des Patriotes is the largest organic egg operation in Canada. Recently, sunflowers were added to the crop rotation, for the production of organic sunflower oil, also used in salad dressing. “Sunflowers are so beautiful. People from the area really appreciated the view,” Bourgeois says.

Ferme St-Ours’ shop is open every morning, even Saturdays and Sundays. Customers may purchase fresh eggs, organic maple products and organic sunflower products. “This represents a very small part of our farm income, but we do it because we like it,” she says. “It’s important to have a contact with consumers and to inform them about today’s agriculture.”

Serge Lefebvre oversees crops, egg production and overall farm management. Chantal Bourgeois takes care of accounting and Martine manages feed and vaccination programs, the farm shop and the production of maple and sunflower products.

Career in nutrition
Martine Bourgeois has kept her position as full-time manager of poultry nutrition and development with Shur-Gain for Quebec and the Atlantic provinces.

She has developed and implemented nutrition programs for several types of poultry production: omega-3 eggs, organic eggs, eggs enriched with omega-3 and lutein, “grain-fed” chicken, antimicrobial-free chicken, hatching eggs, turkey, duck, goose, quail, guinea-fowl and pheasant.

The goals for every feed program are always the same – improving bird health and feed efficiency, reducing environmental impacts and improving flock profitability. 

Bourgeois works with nutritionists from other provinces, sometimes from other countries. With researchers from Nutreco (the company that owns Shur-Gain) in Spain and Netherlands, she has come up with ÉCOPONTE, a program recently introduced in Quebec. The amount of crude protein in the feed is diminished, but egg production is maintained. This allows for lower production costs and less nitrogen in the manure. 

Despite a double workload at both the farm and Shur-Gain, Bourgeois has volunteered on a number of industry committees, such as AQINAC (feed industry association), CRAAQ (agricultural information centre) and the Quebec Order of Agronomists. She was also deeply involved in her children’s education.  

With 30 years of experience, Bourgeois now realizes that the values taught by her parents, such as being open to the world, listening, working hard and following one’s dreams are extremely important. She now wishes to transmit her knowledge to her colleagues at Shur-Gain, to encourage them to build their own networks and fetch the most up-to-date information from wherever it may be found in the world.  

There will always be a place on the farm for Bourgeois’ two daughters and sons, as well as her nephews, should they wish to come back after their studies and having gathered professional experience. All have worked on the farm and some still do. 

“The door is open,” Bourgeois says. “We never know what the future holds.”

Published in Producers

Jul. 12, 2012, Hong Kong - Three vaccines used to prevent respiratory disease in chickens have swapped genes, producing two lethal new strains that have killed tens of thousands of fowl across two states in Australia, scientists reported on Friday.

The creation of the deadly new variant was only possible because the vaccines contained live viruses, even though they were weakened forms, said Joanne Devlin, lead author of the paper published in the journal Science.

Devlin and her team discovered how closely related the two new strains were with viruses in the vaccines after analyzing their genes.

"What we found was the field viruses ... were actually a mixture of the genomes from different vaccine viruses," said Devlin, a lecturer at the University of Melbourne's School of Veterinary Science. "They actually combined, mixed together."

The viruses emerged in 2008, a year after Australia started using a European vaccine along with two very similar Australian vaccines to fight acute respiratory disease in poultry. The illness causes coughing, sneezing and breathing difficulties in birds, normally killing 5 percent of them.

The two new strains, however, were far more harmful, and since they were created have killed up to 17 percent of chicken flocks across Victoria and New South Wales, the two main chicken rearing states in Australia.

"What could have happened was one chicken was vaccinated with one vaccine and later was exposed to the other vaccine somehow, from nearby chickens," Devlin said.

Agricultural authorities in Australia have been informed of the results of the study, and are considering how to prevent similar cross-overs happening again.

"Use of only one vaccine in a population of birds will prevent different viruses from combining," Devlin said.

"Authorities are reviewing labels on vaccine to change the way vaccines are used and prevent different vaccines being used in one population."

For more information, see the complete paper:

Photo courtesy of Stephen Ausmus at the Agricultural Research Service, USDA.

Published in Genetics

Juil. 11, 2012, College Station, TX -The common barnyard chicken could provide some very un-common clues for fighting off diseases and might even offer new ways to attack cancer, according to a team of international researchers that includes a Texas A&M University professor.

James Womack, Distinguished Professor of Veterinary Pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, is co-author of a paper detailing the team's work that appears in the current issue of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists). Womack was a leader in the international effort to sequence the cattle genome in 2004.

Womack and the team, comprised mostly of scientists from the Seoul National University in Korea, examined 62 White Leghorn and 53 Cornish chickens for diversity in NK-lysin, an antibacterial substance that occurs naturally in animals and is used as a method of fighting off diseases.

They were able to obtain two genetic variations of NK-lysin and the results offered two unexpected shockers: both showed abilities to fight off bacterial infections and other diseases, while one showed it could successfully fight cancer cells as well.

"It took all of us by surprise," Womack says of the findings.

"One of the genetic variations shows it has the ability to fight against cancer cells much more aggressively than the other variation. We certainly were not looking at the cancer side of this, but there it was."

Womack says the team selected the two breeds because Cornish and White Leghorn chickens, found throughout most of the world, have relatively diverse genetic origins.

After conducting a DNA sequence of the chickens, the team found two variations of the genes that offered clues as to their protective ability to ward off infections.

"One form appears to be more potent in killing off cancer cells than the other, and that's the one that naturally caught our eye," Womack adds.

"This could lead to other steps to fight cancer or in developing ways to prevent certain infections or even diseases. It's another door that has been opened up. We are looking at similar studies right now to see if this is possible with cattle.

"The next step is to work with other animals and see if similar variants exist. We need to look for any genetic similarities to the chicken variants and then determine if these variants affect the health of the animal, but this is an exciting first step in this direction."

The common barnyard chicken could provide some very un-common clues for fighting off diseases and might even offer new ways to attack cancer, according to a team of international researchers that includes a Texas A&M University professor.


James Womack, Distinguished Professor of Veterinary Pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, is co-author of a paper detailing the team's work that appears in the current issue of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists). Womack was a leader in the international effort to sequence the cattle genome in 2004.

Womack and the team, comprised mostly of scientists from the Seoul National University in Korea, examined 62 White Leghorn and 53 Cornish chickens for diversity in NK-lysin, an antibacterial substance that occurs naturally in animals and is used as a method of fighting off diseases.

They were able to obtain two genetic variations of NK-lysin and the results offered two unexpected shockers:  both showed abilities to fight off bacterial infections and other diseases, while one showed it could successfully fight cancer cells as well.

"It took all of us by surprise," Womack says of the findings.

"One of the genetic variations shows it has the ability to fight against cancer cells much more aggressively than the other variation. We certainly were not looking at the cancer side of this, but there it was."

Womack says the team selected the two breeds because Cornish and White Leghorn chickens, found throughout most of the world, have relatively diverse genetic origins.

After conducting a DNA sequence of the chickens, the team found two variations of the genes that offered clues as to their protective ability to ward off infections. 

"One form appears to be more potent in killing off cancer cells than the other, and that's the one that naturally caught our eye," Womack adds.

"This could lead to other steps to fight cancer or in developing ways to prevent certain infections or even diseases. It's another door that has been opened up. We are looking at similar studies right now to see if this is possible with cattle.

"The next step is to work with other animals and see if similar variants exist. We need to look for any genetic similarities to the chicken variants and then determine if these variants affect the health of the animal, but this is an exciting first step in this direction."

Source: PR Newswire (

Published in Health

Jul. 9, 2012 - Hyperimmune egg yolk antibodies can be used to help control intestinal diseases in poultry, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists.

The antibiotic-free technology involves extracting antibodies from egg yolks from pathogen-free hens or female chickens that have been hyperimmunized—injected with a vaccine that contains inactivated pathogenic organisms. Hyperimmunized birds have a greater-than-normal immunity and produce a large amount of antibodies.

Avian immunologist Hyun Lillehoj at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., partnered with ARS colleagues, university scientists and collaborators from the Mexican company IASA (Investigacíon Aplicada, S.A.) on the studies. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security.

The group demonstrated the effectiveness of inducing passive immunity in young birds, which have no immune protection right after hatching, against coccidiosis, a devastating poultry disease.

Birds affected by coccidiosis are unable to absorb feed or gain weight. The disease costs the poultry industry more than $600 million in the United States and about $3 billion worldwide each year.

Treatments used to reduce the spread of disease include good management practices and live vaccinations. However, antibiotic-free alternatives are important to help fight drug-resistant strains and for organic poultry farmers, according to Lillehoj.

In the study, one-day-old chickens were given feed mixed with spray-dried egg yolk powder prepared from hens hyperimmunized with multiple species of the parasite Eimeria, which causes coccidiosis. The chickens were then exposed to live coccidia parasites. Chickens that had received the hyperimmune egg yolk antibodies gained more weight and shed significantly fewer Eimeria in their feces. The treated birds also had less gut lesions than chickens that did not receive the treatment.

A commercial product that helps control coccidiosis has been developed by a private company based on results of this research. In the future, similar methods may be used to help prevent other harmful poultry diseases.

Read more about this research in the July 2012 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Published in Turkeys

Jul. 9, 2012 - In a joint study, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) and Arizona State University found evidence suggesting that a class of antibiotics previously banned by the U.S. government for poultry production is still in use. Results of the study were published in Environmental Science & Technology.

The study, conducted by the CLF and Arizona State's Biodesign Institute, looked for drugs and other residues in feather meal, a common additive to chicken, swine, cattle and fish feed. The most important drugs found in the study were fluoroquinolones—broad spectrum antibiotics used to treat serious bacterial infections in people, particularly those infections that have become resistant to older antibiotic classes. The banned drugs were found in 8 of 12 samples of feather meal in a multi-state study. The findings were a surprise to scientists because fluoroquinolone use in U.S. poultry production was banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2005.

This is the first time investigators have examined feather meal, a byproduct of poultry production made from poultry feathers, to determine what drugs poultry may have received prior to their slaughter and sale.

The annual per capita human consumption of poultry products is approximately 100 pounds, greater than that of any other animal- or vegetable-derived protein source in the U.S. To satisfy this demand, each year, the U.S. poultry industry raises nearly 9 billion broiler chickens and 247 million turkeys, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A large percentage of the fresh weight of these animals is inedible—an estimated 33 percent for chickens, for example—and is recycled for other uses, including feather meal.

The rendering industry, which converts animal byproducts into a wide range of materials, processes poultry feathers into feather meal, which is often added as a supplement to poultry, pig, ruminant, and fish feeds or sold as an "organic" fertilizer. In a companion study, researchers found inorganic arsenic in feather meal used in retail fertilizers.

"The discovery of certain antibiotics in feather meal strongly suggests the continued use of these drugs, despite the ban put in place in 2005 by the FDA," said David Love, PhD, CLF Project Director and lead author of the report. "The public health community has long been frustrated with the unwillingness of FDA to effectively address what antibiotics are fed to food animals."

A primary reason for the 2005 FDA ban on the use of fluoroquinolones in poultry production was an alarming increase in the rate of the fluoroquinolone resistance among Campylobacter bacteria. "In recent years, we've seen the rate of fluoroquinolone resistance slow, but not drop," noted study co-author Keeve Nachman, PhD, Farming for the Future Program Director at CLF. "With such a ban, you would expect a decline in resistance to these drugs. The continued use of fluoroquinolones and unintended antibiotic contamination of poultry feed may help explain why high rates of fluoroquinolone-resistant Campylobacter continue to be found on commercial poultry meat products over half a decade after the ban."

In the U.S., antibiotics are introduced into the feed and water of industrially raised poultry, primarily to make them grow faster, rather than to treat disease. An estimated 13.2 million kilograms of antibiotics were sold in 2009 to the U.S. poultry and livestock industries, which represented nearly 80 percent of all antibiotic sales for use in humans and animals in the U.S. that year.

In conducting the study, researchers analyzed commercially available feather meal samples, acquired from six U.S. states and China, for a suite of 59 pharmaceuticals and personal care products. All 12 samples tested had between 2 and 10 antibiotic residues. In addition to antimicrobials, 7 other personal care products, including the pain reliever acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol), the antihistamine diphenhydramine (the active ingredient in Benadryl) and the antidepressant fluoxetine (the active ingredient in Prozac), were detected.

Researchers also found caffeine in 10 of 12 feather meal samples. "This study reveals yet another pathway of unwanted human exposure to a surprisingly broad spectrum of prescription and over-the-counter drugs," noted study co-author Rolf Halden, PhD, PE, Co-Director of the Center for Health Information & Research, and Associate Director of the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology at Arizona State University.

When researchers exposed several strains of E. coli bacteria to the concentrations of antibiotics found in the feather meal samples, they also discovered the drug residues could select for resistant bacteria. "A high enough concentration was found in one of the samples to select for bacteria that are resistant to drugs important to treat infections in humans," noted Nachman.

"We strongly believe that the FDA should monitor what drugs are going into animal feed," urged Nachman. "Based on what we've learned, I'm concerned that the new FDA guidance documents, which call for voluntary action from industry, will be ineffectual. By looking into feather meal, and uncovering a drug banned nearly 6 years ago, we have very little confidence that the food animal production industry can be left to regulate itself."


Published in Nutrition and Feed

June 29, 2012 - U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have developed a new method to create antimicrobials that kill disease-causing pathogens. These antimicrobials can be used as an alternative to antibiotics.

Growing concerns about antibiotic resistance to certain strains of bacteria and increasing restrictions on the use of antibiotics in animals has accelerated the need to find alternatives. Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the chief intramural scientific agency of USDA, are working to provide new strategies for enhancing production and improving overall animal health. This research supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security.

The patented technology for designing pathogen-targeted antimicrobials is the work of molecular biologist David Donovanat the ARS Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) in Beltsville, Md. Donovan works in the center's Animal Biosciences and Biotechnology Laboratory.

Viruses that infect bacteria, called bacteriophages (phages), produce enzymes that can be used to kill pathogens. These novel enzymes have been shown to be effective in killing pathogens like streptococci and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA.

Collaborating with industry, university and federal scientists, Donovan demonstrated that these particular enzymes have molecular domains that can be isolated and will act independently of their protein surroundings. They kill bacteria by eating or chewing up the walls of cells.

The enzymes can be manipulated to create an antimicrobial that targets and kills only specific pathogens. This greatly reduces the probability that non-targeted bacteria will develop resistance.

Read more about this research in the May/June 2012 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Published in Turkeys

June 29, 2012 - Natural compounds may offer an alternative to certain antibiotics in the future for treating young animals that are susceptible to bacterial infections, thanks to work by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists.

Researchers at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Food and Feed Safety Research Unit in College Station, Texas, have invented a new method that involves using chlorate (sodium or salt) and nitro compounds to significantly reduce or eliminate intestinal bacterial pathogens in animals such as piglets and calves. Nitro compounds are organic substances that contain one or more nitro groups, which consist of three atoms—one of nitrogen and two of oxygen—that act as one.

ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.

Chlorate and nitro compounds have proven to be effective against the foodborne pathogens Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7. Salmonella alone causes more than 1.3 million cases of human foodborne disease each year, at a cost of $2.4 billion. Salmonella and certain E. coli strains also cause considerable losses to the swine and cattle industries due to enteric or intestinal diseases of newborns.

Microbiologist Robin Anderson and his colleagues at the College Station unit demonstrated the effectiveness of a chlorate-based compound in earlier research by mixing it into water or feed and giving it to cattle. The compound, which was highly effective in reducing E. coli., has been licensed by a private company. Chlorate also reduced Salmonella in turkeys and broiler chickens.

In addition, scientists looked at using certain nitro compounds as a method to control foodborne bacteria. Salmonella or E. coli bacteria were treated with or without chlorate and with or without nitro compounds. Chlorate was found to have significant bacteria-killing activity against E. coli and Salmonella. However, chlorate has not been approved for commercial use in food animals by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. When the nitro compound was added, the activity was enhanced 10- to 100-fold. Nitro compounds alone had significant bacteria-killing activity, which was more persistent than that of chlorate.

Anderson and his team concluded that nitro and chlorate compounds together were the best treatment—a combination that could offer an alternative to certain antibiotics that are commonly used to treat diarrheal infections in young animals.

Read more about this research in the May/June 2012 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Published in Environment

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