Research
May 8, 2017, Africa - One strategy for dealing with poultry poop is to turn it into biofuel, and now scientists have developed a way to do this by mixing the waste with another environmental scourge, an invasive weed that is affecting agriculture in Africa. They report their approach in American Chemical Society’s journal Energy & Fuels

Poultry sludge is sometimes turned into fertilizer, but recent trends in industrialized chicken farming have led to an increase in waste mismanagement and negative environmental impacts, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Droppings can contain nutrients, hormones, antibiotics and heavy metals and can wash into the soil and surface water. To deal with this problem, scientists have been working on ways to convert the waste into fuel. But alone, poultry droppings don’t transform well into biogas, so it’s mixed with plant materials such as switch grass.

Samuel O. Dahunsi, Solomon U. Oranusi and colleagues wanted to see if they could combine the chicken waste with Tithonia diversifolia (Mexican sunflower), which was introduced to Africa as an ornamental plant decades ago and has become a major weed threatening agricultural production on the continent.

The researchers developed a process to pre-treat chicken droppings, and then have anaerobic microbes digest the waste and Mexican sunflowers together. Eight kilograms of poultry waste and sunflowers produced more than 3 kg of biogas — more than enough fuel to drive the reaction and have some leftover for other uses such as powering a generator. Also, the researchers say that the residual solids from the process could be applied as fertilizer or soil conditioner.

The authors acknowledge funding from Landmark University (Nigeria).
Published in Environment
May 5, 2017, Toronto, Ont.- A recent national survey revealed 70 per cent of Canadian mothers are unaware that babies six to 12 months need 11 mg of iron per dayi – that's nearly 40 per cent more than is required of a full-grown man.

The startling statistic was uncovered just in time for World Iron Awareness Week taking place May 1-7 to encourage education and understanding surrounding the importance of iron consumption at every age and stage.

The Canada-wide infant feeding survey was commissioned to help inform parents how and when to introduce babies to iron-rich foods.

Based on survey findings, Canadian moms are seeking infant feeding information from a wide variety of sources including doctors and pediatricians, online resources, baby care books, magazines and of course, friends and family.

While moms of infants are aware that iron is an essential nutrient, there is confusion surrounding when parents should be introducing iron-rich solid foods like meat into their baby's diet.

In 2012, Health Canada released new guidelines advising parents to offer their six-month old infants meat, fish, poultry or meat alternatives two or more times a day, on a daily basis.

While other foods may offer significant amounts of iron, meat provides our bodies with heme iron – a more easily absorbed variation of the nutrient. Adding meat to a meal also helps absorb up to four times the amount of iron from other foods like green vegetables, bread and cerealsiii.

Only about half of moms (55 per cent) surveyed were aware that heme iron found in meats is better absorbed than other dietary iron, or that iron deficiency anemia in infants is associated with irreversible developmental delays (51 per cent).
Published in Consumer
May 2, 2017, Kitchner, Ont. - With several partners, Hendrix Genetics is investigating possibilities to use blockchain in the egg value-chain. Blockchain is a new technology that has the potential to make processes more democratic, secure, transparent, and efficient.

What is blockchain? Blockchain is in essence a public decentralized 'ledger'. All transactions are stored in a shared database and everything is verifiable and traceable. Nobody owns the database, all participants share it. Blockchains are secure by design.

With participation of several companies, Hendrix has defined its first blockchain project. They will build and test a system for international payments and deliveries in the egg value chain with the objective to replace the current Letter of Credit system. Hendrix is working on a proof of concept to investigate and learn the possibilities and limitations of blockchain technology for the animal protein value chains in which they are involved in.

For more information, visit https://www.hendrix-genetics.com/news/hendrix-genetics-innovates-blockchain/?platform=hootsuite

Published in Company News
April 25, 2017, Columbus, OH - Keel bone health is increasingly seen as an animal welfare metric in alternative housing systems.

A new research study shows the majority of keel bone damage originates from collisions with perches inside the layer house.

Dr. Maja Makagon, assistant professor of applied animal behavior at University of California, Davis’ Department of Animal Science, discussed the results of a study conducted to analyze keel bone damage in a layer environment. Makagon, who spoke on April 19 as part of the Egg Industry Center Egg Industry Issues Forum in Columbus, Ohio, said the study utilized accelerometers and 3D imaging technology to study the force of the collisions and measure their effects on the keel bone.

The keel is an extension of the sternum that provides an anchor for the bird’s wing muscles and provides leverage for flight. As laying hens are being removed from a conventional cage environment, Makagon said, keel integrity is increasingly seen as an indicator of animal welfare. Damaged keels are associated with increased mortality, reduced egg production and egg quality, and keel damage is likely associated with pain for the animal. READ MORE
Published in Layers
April 24, 2017, Tucker, GA – The U.S. Poultry Foundation announced the completion of a funded research project at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware, in which researchers report a potential cause of wooden breast lesion in broilers. The “woody breast” condition has long confused producers and processors, and research has been ongoing to find an explanation for the condition.

The research project is part of the Association’s comprehensive research program encompassing all phases of poultry and egg production and processing.

Dr. Benham Abasht and colleagues at the Univ. of Delaware found that the early lesions of the condition could be found in the breast tissue of one-week old broilers, and the first stage of the condition involves inflammation of the veins in the breast tissue and accumulation of lipid around the affected veins. The study went onto say that this condition was followed over time by muscle cell death and replacement by fibrous and fatty tissue. Genetic analyses also indicated that there was dysfunction in lipid metabolism in affected birds. This new understanding that inflammation of veins is the likely cause of wooden breast lesions in broilers will provide important direction for future research on this condition. READ MORE 
Published in Health
April 24, 2017, New York, NY- The U.S. government's latest report card on food poisoning suggests that a germ commonly linked to raw milk and poultry is surpassing salmonella at the top of the culprit list.

The report counts cases in only 10 states for nine of the most common causes of foodborne illness, but is believed to be a good indicator of national food poisoning trends.

The most common bug last year was campylobacter (pronounced: kam-pih-loh-BAK'-tur). It's mostly a problem in unpasteurized dairy products, but also is seen in contaminated chicken, water, and produce. Salmonella was number one for the last 20 years but last year moved down to number two. Other causes like listeria, shigella (shih-GEHL'-uh) and E. coli trail behind.

Last year, there were no significant changes in new case rates for most kinds of food poisoning, compared to the previous three years. The new report tallied about 24,000 illnesses and 98 deaths in the 10 states. The CDC estimates that one in six Americans get sick from contaminated food each year, though most cases are not reported.

There's been a continued decline in illnesses from what used to be the most common strain of salmonella -- called Salmonella Typhimurium. That's possibly because of vaccinations of chicken flocks and tighter regulations. READ MORE
Published in Consumer
Chicago, IL, April 10, 2017 – Chicken remains consumers’ protein of choice while turkey shows room to grow, according to Technomic’s recently-released 2017 Center of the Plate: Poultry Consumer Trend Report.

Chicken consumption has been bolstered over the past few years by increases at breakfast and snacking occasions. Meanwhile, turkey consumption is still centered on the holidays, though 39 per cent of consumers who eat turkey indicate they are more likely now than two years ago to eat turkey during the rest of the year.

“Chicken’s adaptability will be on full display over the next few years as operators increasingly highlight this healthy protein across dayparts”, explains Kelly Weikel, director of consumer insights at Technomic. “For turkey, operators will work to menu this protein in a way that is new and intriguing, but still leverages turkey’s positioning as a familiar and healthy standby.”

Key takeaways from the report include:
  • 47 per cent of consumers say it’s important for restaurants to be transparent about where they source their poultry
  • 45 per cent of consumers who eat chicken strongly agree that restaurants should offer more chicken entrees with ethnic flavors
  • 38 per cent of consumers who eat turkey would like restaurants to offer turkey as a protein choice for a wider variety of entrees
Published in Consumer
April 6, 2017, Nottingham, UK – Specially-bred wheat could help provide some of the key nutrients essential for healthy bones in poultry, reducing the need to supplement the feed, researchers at Nottingham Trent University and Aarhus University in Denmark have found.

Scientists from the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Aarhus University, discovered that wheat can be bred naturally to produce high levels of phytase – an enzyme needed to release phosphorous, which the bird requires to grow a healthy skeleton.

The wheat was tested on poultry in feed trials carried out at Nottingham Trent University’s Poultry Research Unit.

The poultry industry has been very successful in improving bird productivity, with growth rates increasing threefold over the last 50 years. However, in order to ensure that bird welfare is not compromised, particular attention has to be focused on ensuring that a healthy, well-developed skeletal frame is produced.

Nutritionists have tackled this issue through supplements, to ensure the correct mineral balance in the diet. A key component is phosphorous, a mineral found in plant tissues, grains and oil seeds and which is vital for skeletal growth and maintenance.

However, not only is phosphorous supplementation very expensive but also the phosphorous, from plant sources, present in the feed of poultry and pigs has a very low bio-availability, being bound up in a plant substance called phytate.

Phosphorous bound in phytate cannot be utilized by these monogastric animals because they have negligible amounts of the phytase enzyme in their gastrointestinal tract – which is needed to make the phosphorous from phytate bioavailable.

This anti-nutritional effect of phytate is estimated to cost animal producers billions of dollars a year. In addition to this, phytate-bound phosphorous, which is excreted, can have negative impact on the environment such as via eutrophication.

For the latest work, published in the journal Animal: An International Journal of Animal Bioscience, plant-breeding scientists from Aarhus University used their expertise to make it simple and efficient to breed wheat with naturally high levels of phytase.

Scientists in Nottingham Trent University’s poultry nutrition research team then designed and carried out a poultry nutrition trial to compare this new source of phytase to traditional poultry diet formulations. The trial shows that inclusion of the high phytase wheat in the feed is a highly effective way to unlock the phosphorous in the diet for use by the animal.

”Aiming for high phytase activity in wheat grains has been a key research target for many years,” said Dr Henrik Brinch-Pedersen, group leader at Aarhus University’s Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics.

”Reaching it was a milestone, but seeing that it works well in animal feeding is extremely satisfactory,” he added. “A particularly exciting additional implication of this work may actually be for humans. 700 million people globally suffer anaemia partly caused by the high phytate content of their diet. Providing a variety of wheat that contains its own phytate-destruction enzyme could improve the population health of many nations.”

”It has been exciting to explore a completely different way of providing meat chickens with the phosphorous needed for healthy bones,” said Dr. Emily Burton, head of the Poultry Research Unit in Nottingham Trent University’s School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences. ”We will be looking to explore further the possibilities of wheat-derived phytase, as emerging research in this field shows the anti-nutritional effects of phytate in poultry extends far beyond locking away phosphorous.”

”Wheat is the predominant ingredient used in poultry diets and over 50 per cent of all the wheat grown in the EU is used in the manufacture of animal feeds,” said Steve Wilson, monogastric nutritionist at the animal feed producers ForFarmers. “If the naturally occurring level of phytase in this major cereal can be increased then it can make a significant economic contribution to our aim to improve the efficiency and sustainability of future feed production.”

Plant Bioscience Ltd (PBL, Norwich, UK) – an independent technology management company specializing in plant, food and microbial science – was also involved in the study and funded the work. PBL is now working with partners in the plant breeding and feed industry to bring this innovation into use.
Published in Nutrition and Feed
Poultry production has been using antimicrobial agents, and more specifically, antibiotics, globally for many decades. Let’s not get confused with the terms antimicrobials and antibiotics. All antibiotics are antimicrobials but not all antimicrobials are antibiotics. Antibiotics are largely used to improve animal performance by minimizing the inflammation caused by bacterial and protozoal infections (Escherichia, Salmonella, and Coccidia, etc.) and are also called growth promoters.
Published in Nutrition and Feed
Increased pressure on the poultry industry to produce antibiotic-free chickens remains a challenge, as rearing birds without antibiotics results in an increased risk of pathogen contamination. The Canadian poultry industry is faced with an increased risk in the development of necrotic enteritis, known to be caused by Clostridium perfringens bacterium.  
Published in Health
April 4, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – The popular University of Alberta (U of A) Heritage Chicken program is here once again, offering small flock enthusiasts the chance to order heritage chicks until April 19.

“Heritage chicks are vaccinated and hatched at the U of A’s Poultry Research Centre,” says Jesse Hunter, program coordinator. “This year, we’re offering Plymouth barred rock, brown leghorn, random bred broiler 1978, light Sussex and Rhode Island red chicks. We hatch a certain number of each breed every year, so check the website to order your favorite breed before they're gone.”

Heritage chicks must be pre-ordered on the Heritage Chicken website, and will be available for pick-up at local Peavey Marts across Alberta. Up to 20 day-old chicks cost $8 each, 21-100 are $6, and 101-500 are $4.

As part of the program, two small flock workshops are being held, April 12 in Spruce Grove and April 13 in Red Deer, and run from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. Food and refreshments will be provided.

“The workshops are an opportunity to learn about biosecurity, housing, nutrition, disease identification, behaviour, anatomy, and more,” says Hunter. “To register for one of the workshops, go to Eventbrite.”

Register for Spruce Grove

Register for Red Deer

The Heritage Chicken program was established in 2013 to conserve multiple heritage chicken breeds housed at the University of Alberta Poultry Research Centre. The program gives people the opportunity to adopt a chicken and receive a dozen farm fresh heritage eggs every two weeks.

All proceeds from the sales are donated back to the Poultry Research Centre to maintain the heritage chickens.
Published in Genetics
March 30, 2017, Quebec City, Que – It’s no secret that antimicrobial use and resistance is a complex, challenging issue re-shaping the future of animal agriculture and the feed industry in Canada and beyond.

What does the feed industry need to know? What does the latest science say? How can people from across poultry, swine, beef, dairy and other production sectors maximize the power of nutritional strategies to tackle this issue?

Researchers, feed industry specialists and other industry partners can get a unique, in-depth look at the latest science, challenges and opportunities on this issue, as the Animal Nutrition Association of Canada (ANAC) hosts the inaugural Animal Nutrition Conference of Canada (ANCC), May 10 to 11 in Quebec City, Quebec. (Those wishing to attend should register right away as early bird registration ends March 31. Registration at regular rates will be available on a limited basis through early May.)

The new ANCC brings together the former Western Nutrition Conference and Eastern Nutrition Conference into one united national event, featuring top speakers, hot topics and the latest science-based knowledge and progress, along with outstanding discussion and networking opportunities. The theme of the inaugural conference is “Nutritional Strategies to Reduce Antimicrobial Usage in Animal Production,” putting a spotlight on the latest best knowledge available to drive strategies for success.

“The inaugural Animal Nutrition Conference of Canada introduces a dynamic new event and platform for feed industry professionals, featuring topics most relevant to our industry, with the objective that they come out of the conference with new ideas and insights to move us forward,” says Christian Bruneau of Cargill, industry co-chair of the ANCC organizing committee. “We wanted this first edition to be focused on reducing the use of antimicrobials in animal production, which is obviously a top priority of the feed industry in Canada and globally. The event is designed to provide an unbiased scientific overview looking at this theme from as many nutritional angles as possible, presented by experts in several diversified fields. We encourage everyone interested to attend and be a part of the learning and discussion.”

The conference program and format represents a natural evolution of the former regional conferences, yet is newly designed to capture fresh synergies and deliver enhanced value for participants.

“Bringing the industry together in a single forum is a unique opportunity to explore, understand and share best practices,” says Andy Humphreys of Verus Animal Nutrition, ANAC board member. “With a consolidated forum, leaders can come together to network, challenge and innovate in this ever-changing industry. It reflects the desire of our members to create a new world-class conference that supports the position of our animal agriculture sectors as global leaders in the production of safe, economical and nutritious food products.”

The conference comes hot on the heels of the new Veterinary Feed Directive in the U.S. and ahead of new anticipated regulations and policy changes in Canada regarding usage of antimicrobials.

“I applaud the organizing committee for choosing a theme that is extremely timely and relevant right now,” says Dr. Mary Lou Swift of Hi-Pro Feeds, chair of the ANAC nutrition committee, which is comprised of nutritionists from member companies. “Participants can look forward to getting all the pertinent current technical information, including information regarding feed ingredients, nutrition and management, with insights directly from top experts. This includes the opportunity to meet these speakers for more in-depth discussions. This is also an enjoyable social event and opportunity to catch up with old friends and colleagues, while making new ones.”

Conference speakers include a range of top scientists and researchers from Canada, the U.S. and further abroad. The pre-conference sponsor is Biomin America Inc. Full program details, ongoing sponsor opportunities, and registration information are all available at www.animalnutritionconference.ca.
Published in Nutrition and Feed
March 24, 2017, Lexington, KY – ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference, being held May 21 to 24 in Lexington, Ky., is certain to inspire and motivate producers and agribusiness leaders, but more importantly, it will prepare them for the future.

The three-day conference will bring together industry experts from across the globe to share insights and solutions to today’s most pressing issues within agriculture.

To provide an opportunity for every corner of production agriculture to engage in disruption, ONE17 will include various tracks, including a focus session specifically dedicated to poultry production. From topics covering in ovo techniques and the use of CRISPR/Cas9 genome modification to the effects of backyard farming and consumer meat preferences, ONE17 will give poultry producers real-life solutions.

“We believe it’s important for everyone involved in agriculture to be inspired to harness disruption,” said Dr. Pearse Lyons, founder and president of Alltech. “For poultry producers, however, we understand that innovation must be practical and profitable. Our poultry focus session will facilitate open discussions about what’s ahead for the poultry industry and will drive the disruptive thinking that could determine long-term success.”

ONE17 poultry focus sessions include:
  • In Ovo: Counting your chickens before they hatch? Could in ovo techniques be the next disruption in the poultry industry, and what benefits could they deliver to the consumer?
  • Chickens by Design: What implications does CRISPR/Cas9 have for the world’s preferred protein?
  • Slow-Grown Disruption: Is the slow-growth movement a disruption? Is it sustainable?
  • Chickens and Eggs: Two growing markets have emerged: backyard farming and large-scale consolidation. What are the opportunities?
  • Disruption in Washington: What can we expect from the new leadership landscape? How could the food chain and global trade be disrupted?
  • The Biologist’s Toolbox: Precise gene editing technologies are the newest tool in the biologist’s toolbox, but are we pushing ethical limits? 
For more information on the ONE17 poultry focus session, visit one.alltech.com/poultry.
Published in Emerging Trends
Uniformity of body weight within a breeder flock remains a key challenge faced by the hatching egg industry. Broiler breeders are genetically selected for increased growth rates, which is associated with an increased appetite. Reproduction in broiler breeders is impeded unless their growth is constrained, which has resulted in the implementation of feed restriction strategies that may not allow for co-ordination of nutrient requirement and nutrient supply in non-uniform flocks.
Published in Bird Management
As many of us have heard on the news recently, food security in Northern Canada is a serious problem. Most people in the Far North are completely reliant on food produced in the south. Food is generally very expensive, but fresh fruit and vegetables in particular cost three to four times what they would elsewhere. Numerous new greenhouse initiatives are underway to address the problem – most of them employing high-tech green energy solutions and extremely high levels of insulation.
Published in New Technology
March 2, 2017, Madison, NJ – Merck Animal Health recently announced the introduction of the High Quality Poultry Science Award, aimed at supporting research in poultry health, production and welfare by tomorrow’s industry leaders.

Starting this year, Merck Animal Health will award three masters or doctoral students who recently received degrees in veterinary or animal science with an emphasis on poultry, the unique opportunity to present their research to industry specialists. Winners will travel to Merck Animal Health High Quality Poultry meetings in Europe, the Americas and Asia, to review their research and network with some of the most renowned experts in the field.

“At Merck Animal Health, we are proud to invest in the future of the poultry industry by supporting these young veterinary scientists with this new award program,” said Delair Bolis, executive director for global poultry, Merck Animal Health. “Our High Quality Congresses provide a forum for leading experts from across the industry to further foster innovation that will benefit poultry health, production and welfare.”

Eligible graduates must have completed master or doctoral (PhD) research for an applied project in either veterinary or animal science, with an emphasis on poultry, and defended their degree in the past 12 months. Topics of interest include infectious diseases such as infectious bronchitis (IB), Newcastle disease (ND), infectious bursal disease (IBD), infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT), reovirus (REO), Salmonella or Campylobacter, as well as red mite control, general welfare, hatchery health, antibiotic reduction, and environmental impact.

To apply, eligible graduates must submit a 300-word summary of their research project and a brief letter describing why they deserve the award, including how their work can contribute to the improvement of the poultry industry, to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Applications must be submitted by March 20, 2017.

Winners will be notified in mid-April. One student per region will present their research at the 2017 High Quality Poultry Congress in Europe (Prague), in May; the Americas (Brazil), in June, and Asia (location yet to be determined), in October.

For additional details, please visit: http://www.highqualitycongress.com/hqpoultryphdaward.aspx.
Published in Research
February 24, 2017, Lethbridge, Alta – When it comes to successful brooding, it is not one size fits all. The Lethbridge Quality Brooding Workshop will explore what works and what doesn’t when it comes to maximizing flock growth, health, and welfare. This practical workshop takes place near Lethbridge on Tuesday, March 28, 2017.

The workshop will be led by instructors who understand the importance of links between bird health, biology, and barn results. They will discuss ideal barn preparation, the key components of brooding management, identifying sick birds, the flock health and economic impact of a decision to cull specific birds, and more!

Participants will go into the barn to discuss barn preparation and tools to measure environmental conditions; hear first-hand accounts of what works and doesn’t work in the field; and learn to assess external chick quality and how this relates to internal conditions of chicks. 

The program will run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at a farm located just east of Lethbridge. Registration is $60 per person and includes lunch. Additional registrants from the same farm will be charged $50 each. Please contact the Alberta Chicken Producers office at 780-488-2125 to register.

There are a limited number of spots available, so register early to avoid disappointment.

If you would be interested in participating in a future Edmonton-area Quality Brooding Workshop, please contact the office. Interested parties will be placed on a contact list. If there is early interest, officials will plan for this workshop to take place shortly after the Lethbridge workshop.
Published in Bird Management
February 17, 2017 – Biomin welcomed 145 delegates from 23 countries representing the feed and poultry sectors over several days in mid-February in order to address how to solve the antibiotic-free production puzzle.

With the subheading of “Guidelines for a responsible use of antibiotics in the modern broiler production,” the event afforded participants the opportunity to consider a host of different viewpoints.

Expert speakers explored the role of genetics, nutrition, biosecurity and farm management.

Highly interactive exchanges throughout the event converged on the idea that a holistic approach is the way forward in reducing antibiotics while maintaining high performing flocks.
Published in Health
Although the table egg industry is significant in Canada, it remains vulnerable to shifts in consumer attitudes and perceptions. Eggs are washed prior to retail sale, to remove potential pathogens from the eggshell surface. However, cases of Salmonella poisoning do occur.  
Published in Research
Growing volumes of data are being collected throughout the food production chain. But although this data could present big opportunity for agriculture, it’s not being used to its full potential, according to the international sales director of a software company that specializes in the protein industry.     
Published in New Technology

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