Research

It was during one particular panel discussion that the need for the “Public Trust in Agriculture Summit” became crystal clear. The Summit was held in early June in Ottawa, with speakers and participants in attendance from all aspects of food production, from seed companies, chefs and farmers, to academics, farming associations and large companies like Maple Leaf Foods. This ground-breaking inaugural event was intended to “encourage continuous collaborative discussions amongst farm and food system leaders, while developing concrete actions for earning public trust.”

And this is exactly what the panel discussion involving five typical urban Canadians exposed – a distinct sense of mistrust towards the Canadian agri-food system. The level of knowledge about farming among the panelists was – for many of the audience members who live and breathe food production on a daily basis – shocking. But to be fair, many attendees also recognized how difficult it is for anyone outside of agriculture, the health care system, forestry or any other complex sector of our economy to make time to learn the basics, let along keep up with the many changes in practices and policy that are standard today.

“Their level of knowledge…on some questions, it was pretty good, [but] on others it was not good at all – industry’s fault, not theirs,” notes attendee Robin Horel, president and CEO Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council (CPEPC). “It certainly emphasized some of the information that was shared from the public survey [presented at the Summit; more on that later] – that consumers get much of their information from friends and family and do not trust industry or government.”

Horel highlights a point during the panel which occurred after the participants had been asked quite a few quiz questions on various aspects of food and farming, with the moderator letting them know in each case if they were correct or incorrect. “[The moderator’s feedback] seemed to be accepted every time by the panelists until the question of hormones in poultry came up,” he notes. “All panelists believed that poultry contained hormones, and when the moderator corrected their belief, they did not believe her, even though on all the previous misconceptions, they did believe her. Then when she asked what it would take to convince them – examples like government, scientists, etc. – they still stuck to their belief and said that they would not be convinced!”

Egg Farmers of Ontario (EFO) director Dianne McComb also attended the Summit, and says that because she’s on the EFO Public Affairs Committee and has therefore had a lot of exposure to the general public’s level of agri-food knowledge, she “wasn’t too shocked” at the panel responses. “A few others at my table were shocked, or absolutely blown away,” she says, “seeing the panelists’ understanding and that they were in some cases so far away in their opinions from the facts and reality.” (See sidebar for some quotes from panelists.)

If the reason for the Summit hasn’t been made clear yet, let’s dig into brand new survey research presented at the event, conducted by Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI), which had its launch at the Summit. (The CCFI is a division of Farm & Food Care Canada, a charity with a vision to earn public trust in food and farming. It’s also an affiliate of the well-established U.S.-based Center for Food Integrity. Both organizations are made up of members representing the diversity of the entire food system. In Canada, that includes Dow AgroSciences and Tim Hortons.

The survey results may shock you. The CCFI’s brand new poll of over 2,500 Canadians found that a whopping 93 per cent know little or nothing about farming. Exactly 50 per cent are unsure about whether our food system is going in the right direction, and 21 per cent believe it’s on the wrong track. Yes, that’s less than a third of Canadians who believe our food system is going in the right direction.

So, it’s clear that the trust of many Canadians in farming and food production has been lost to some extent. This isn’t hard to understand. There was an extremely serious listeria outbreak involving lunchmeats in 2008 resulting in 22 deaths (with new recalls in May 2016), and major outbreaks of swine flu and BSE before that. In recent years, several serious instances of animal cruelty were caught on tape and created national headlines, shaking many Canadians to the core. Then there are all the countless media stories and weighty books – sometimes published within the same year – containing conflicting claims about the health benefits, non-benefits and even detriments of food items like eggs, coffee, whole grains, various types of fat and even certain vegetables and fruits. Indeed, it’s hard not to understand where consumers are coming from and how hard it is for them to keep trusting the food system at this point.

But what’s more serious – and especially relevant to farmers – is that because trust in the food system has been lost, consumers (as well as retailers and restaurant chains such as McDonald’s responding to consumers) are now in a position where they are all but dictating on-farm practices. One stunning example is the demands for Canadian egg farmers to convert to cage-free hen housing (see story this issue). Another example is the strong consumer pressure to abolish sow gestation crates, and the current growing pressure to raise poultry without antibiotics. Demand for no added hormones in beef and for more GMO-free product availability and labelling is also increasing. Outside of farming, strong demands also exist in some instances for restaurants (for example, Earl’s in Western Canada) or grocery stores to carry local – or at least Canadian – products.

Taking stock
Once trust has been lost in any arena, it’s hard to build it back up again. But the Summit highlighted the fact that for farmers, it’s no longer only a quest to regain public trust in agriculture, but to keep their ‘social licence’ – their very ability to dictate their own farming practices and have the general public believe them competent to look after animals, crops, the land – a ‘freedom to operate’ if you will. On that note, here are some more CCFI survey results to ponder. Less than a third (only 29 per cent) of Canadians believe Canadian farmers are good stewards of the environment. Almost three-quarters believe videos of farm animals being treated poorly are “representative of normal livestock farming.”

“Control has already been lost,” noted Summit presenter Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity in the U.S. He and other presenters suggested that perhaps building public trust in the food system starts with accepting that the social licence of farmers may henceforth always be shared to some extent with the consumer. Several speakers pointed out that this reality – that consumers these days have a great deal of influence over farmers and the food system – is not yet accepted or believed by many in agriculture. Nor is the fact that most Canadians know little or nothing about the day-to-day reality of farming understood by many of us who produce this country’s food. So, on the whole, the Summit presented a new ‘normal’ that farmers should strive to get used to as quickly as they can.  

A CCFI statement published in a Summit booklet summarizes the situation well. “We see consumer alienation from agriculture and the food system expressed through concerns about nutrition, food safety, affordability, environmental sustainability, animal well-being and other issues. Some argue that maintaining public trust is a worthy goal, but not relevant to success in business. This outdated notion fails to recognize the financial benefit of maintaining trust of stakeholders who can determine the level of social license or social control an organization enjoys…Once lost, either through a single event or a series of events that reduce or eliminate stakeholder trust, social license is replaced with social control. Social control is regulation, legislation, litigation or market demands designed to compel the organization to perform to the expectations of its stakeholders. Operating with a social license means more flexibility and lower cost. Operating with a high degree of social control increases costs, reduces operational flexibility and increases bureaucratic compliance.”

Taking action
It was stressed over and over again at the Summit, that re-gaining public trust must be everyone’s responsibility. The CCFI, Farm & Food Care, private companies, food and farming associations and individuals were all encouraged to bridge the gap that currently exists between consumers and farms. For its part, the CCFI will continue to research consumer opinions, questions and concerns. Its ‘Public Trust Research’ will benchmark consumer attitudes about food and agriculture against U.S. and Canadian data gathered since 2001. In addition, the CCFI will develop and highlight best practices, models and messages that build trust, and hold future Summits.

Horel thinks the CCFI is “likely a good thing.” The CPEPC Board has asked CCFI to make a presentation and will then decide if CPEPC should become a member.

McComb also thinks the CCFI is a positive step because it’s connected to its well-established U.S. counterpart and can draw on its experience. “We’re being forced by special interest groups and a lack of understanding and pseudo science,” she notes. “Consumers need to make choices and their choices are being taken away by these groups, so we need to reach around these groups and help consumers make their own choices. People want to know food is affordable and safe. And we do have affordable and safe food. The answers that we have in agriculture, the good answers, we haven’t informed consumers about them. With eggs, it’s things like the fact that the carbon footprint of farms is much lower than it was years ago, and at the same time, crop productivity is up, hen productivity is up, the soil is still vibrant and so on. Those are tremendous positives.”  

McComb says the Summit was valuable “because the whole focus of it was the commonality of our problems and the things we need to face.” She believes “Consumers are confused. They have lost touch with agriculture today and we as a whole agriculture sector need to reconnect with the people who buy our products. I think it was a great start. I sat at tables, and I know others did too, with a great variety of people around me. We all thought we are islands, maybe, but we are not. We have lots of commonalities. The Summit helped us make connections, understand the problem, and come up with plans and solutions.”

EFO is working with Farm & Food Care and CCFI on concrete plans on topics like better understanding food-related trends, best public communication practices and more. “When we say agriculture, they [consumers] think food,” McComb notes. “We say food safety and they want safe food. We talk about biotechnology and they wonder about GMOs and steroids and hormones. We talk efficiency and they talk affordability. We have to modify our language and need to speak factually and passionately.”

Alison Evans, communications manager at Egg Farmers of Canada, found the Summit to be “an interesting event,” and notes that “the concepts of social license and public trust are very important to our farmers…We are active participants in a range of initiatives that promote dialogue and action on these matters, and value collaboration that benefits the entire sector. We will look forward to hearing more about the planned initiatives of the CCFI with interest.”

Turkey Farmers of Canada (TFC) Chair Mark Davies attended part of the Summit and TFC Manager of Corporate Communications Robin Redstone attended the entire event. “We felt it was a useful event and we certainly welcome the dialogue on what we agree is an important issue for the Canadian food and agriculture sector,” Redstone notes. “Going forward, TFC will continue in our efforts to address the public’s demand for information and transparency, and our organization will be assessing the proposal for involvement put forth by the CCFI.”

For its part, Farm & Food Care is working on five action points. CEO Crystal Mackay pointed out at the Summit that results for Google searches must be improved, in terms of offering Canadians more
balanced and accurate information about food and farming. (The top 10 ranked results for a Google search for the words ‘cage free,’ for example, turned up only animal rights websites and a Wikipedia entry.) Secondly, Farm & Food Care is going to invest in new online content, for example expanding its Virtual Farm tours to Virtual Farm and Food Tours. In addition, it will continue working to reach ‘thought influencers’ in Canadian society, such as Foodies, bloggers and Moms, to support the development of new resources and research, and to continue to build networks and momentum.

Let’s finish with some pertinent quotes from some of the Summit presenters, starting with UK-based food industry researcher and commentator Dr. David Hughes: “There are no passengers here. We all need to take action individually and collectively.”

Arnot stressed that information on farming and food must be more readily available, “We have to get past ‘There is nothing to hide, but it’s none of your business,’” he said. Arnot also put emphasis on a long-term view: “Success will not be defined by where you’ll be in 12 months from now. Three, five, ten years is what matters.”

“This is a moving target,” Mackay stated. “This is new territory…We need to commit to making mistakes.” She advised everyone to go back and look at their website and other materials and commit to helping each other and providing feedback across sectors. “If you’re not making mistakes, you’ve probably not doing enough,” she said. “It’s a movement – you have to move.”

Mackay believes the CCFI findings point to a huge opportunity to make a better connection between Canadians and their food. With the survey showing that 60 percent of Canadians would like to know more about farming practices, she’s very right. The overall survey results, however, suggest an uphill battle ahead.

The Public Trust Research Report is available at: http://www.farmfoodcare.org/canada/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/2016-Public-Trust-Research-Report.pdf

Published in Emerging Trends
September 28, 2016 - Hendrix Genetics (HG) says it is reinforcing that high health, salmonella-negative flocks and ensuring clean and pathogen-free facilities are a top priority, with an investment in new laboratory facilities and upgrades.

The company is highlighting an expansion to its North American poultry laboratory, based in Kitchener, Ont. This central facility, run by a team of six, processes approximately 200,000 samples per year from all turkey and layer parent stock flocks in North America. They also schedule and prepare all tests required by regulatory and export agencies.

With biosecurity as a key component of the new layout, HG says it was staff that came up with the design of the various zones. The design sought to ensure secure division between zones for preparing test kits as well as receiving, handling and analyzing different sample types.

"The design of this lab was truly a collaborative effort," says laboratory manager, Peter Pozder. "The team worked together to identify opportunities for improvement within the current layout and planned the enhanced work flow; all without any interruption to the testing schedule.”

After inspection for biosecurity standards, the new design was approved and is licensed under Canadian federal public health and food inspection agencies.

On Sep. 9, 2016, HG opened the doors to local customers, government partners and internal teams in order to exhibit the updated facility.

“Investment in the lab benefits our customers and all stakeholders in the value chain," says Scott Rowland, Hybrid Turkeys' general manager for the Americas. "The samples analyzed at this facility, whether it’s directly from the birds or samples from the water residue, litter, transport vehicles, or feed ingredients, have a direct impact on how we can effectively monitor flock health and prevent the spread of disease.”
Published in Companies
The CPRC 2015 funding process approved projects that addressed several poultry industry priorities.  A major industry priority is improving the immune system, and two projects that specifically address this in poultry have recently acquired all necessary funding in addition to CPRC funding.  These projects are now currently under active research. 

Activation of innate immunity
The emergence and spread of resistant bacteria are rendering current antibiotics less useful.  Furthermore, the controversial practice of prophylactic use of antibiotics encourages the emergence of antibiotic-resistant microbes.  Therefore there is a need for the development of novel alternative strategies to antimicrobials for infectious disease control.

CPRC has recently funded a project that will investigate an innate immune-based method of disease protection as an alternative strategy to antimicrobial use.  During initial exposure to pathogens, birds are reliant on their innate immunity for protection against infection.  Innate immune responses are not pathogen-specific but are activated by features/patterns characteristic of pathogens.  The innate immune system is capable of limiting a variety of infections once activated.  Although the innate immune system of chickens is developed at hatch, it is not activated; therefore, microbial agents (particularly bacterial pathogens) can infect chicks at the time of placement in the barn.

Professor Susantha Gomis, from the University of Saskatchewan has studied the effects of a pattern characteristic of bacterial DNA, known as CPG-motifs to induce or activate the innate immunity.  Research has shown that synthetically generated CPG-motifs or ‘CpG-ODN’ as an immune system stimulant is capable of protecting neonatal chickens against specific bacterial infections.  Results obtained to date show that intranasal delivery of CpG-ODN is advantageous to in ovo delivery as innate immune stimulation coincides with the first week of the birds’ life, which is the most vulnerable period for bacterial infections.  Dr. Gomis’s current research will develop an effective method of intra-nasal delivery of CpG-ODN at hatch.  The research approach will be to initially develop a CpG-ODN delivery prototype for intranasal delivery of the CpG-ODN to neonatal chicks followed by field efficacy and safety trials.

This research is also funded by NSERC, Chicken Farmers of Saskatchewan, (Saskatchewan Chicken Industry Development Fund), Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency Ltd., Western Economic Diversification Canada, Sunrise Poultry Hatchery, BC and Prairie Pride Natural Foods Ltd., SK.

Activation of adaptive immunity
Respiratory viruses have a negative impact on the poultry industry.  Although vaccination against respiratory viruses is used to control these common viral diseases, “vaccine failures” remain common. 

CPRC has recently funded a project that will investigate the use of innate immune stimulants to induce adaptive immunity against respiratory viruses.  Adaptive immune responses are pathogen-specific and recognition of the pathogen results in both antibody-related and cell-mediated immunity.  Adaptive immune responses are slow to develop and may take up to a week before the responses are effective. 

Associate Professor Faizal Careem, from the University of Calgary, has studied the effects of synthetic Pathogen Associated Molecular Patterns (PAMPs) in activation of innate immune responses.  Research has shown that these PAMPs are effective in reducing the impact of a number of avian bacteria and viruses.  PAMPS are also a known to increase the immune response of experimental vaccines when incorporated with these vaccines as ‘immune response enhancers’.

Dr. Careem, will investigate the role of innate immune stimulants in the induction of adaptive immunity to respiratory viruses.  Results obtained in his prior research have demonstrated that in ovo delivered PAMPs can reduce a specific viral load in the respiratory tract of embryos and neonatal chicks.  in ovo delivered PAMPs also increases innate immune cell responses in neonatal chicks.  These responses have been shown to promote the development of adaptive immune responses in mammals.  Overall, this study will determine the efficacy and mechanism of in ovo delivered PAMPs in inducing pathogen specific adaptive immune responses against respiratory viruses.  The approach is centralized on stimulation of the innate immunity to reduce the viral replication at the site of entry allowing birds to acquire adaptive immunity.

This research is also funded by NSERC and Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency Ltd.

CPRC, its Board of Directors and member organizations are committed to supporting and enhancing Canada’s poultry sector through research and related activities.  For more details on these or any other CPRC activities, please contact the Canadian Poultry Research Council, 350 Sparks Street, Suite 1007, Ottawa, Ontario, K1R 7S8, tel: (613) 566-5916, e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit us at www.cp-rc.ca.
Published in Health

August 11, 2016 - Twenty-one U.S. land-grant institutions and partner organizations are collaborating to provide researchers, Extension professionals, regulators, feed industries, and producers with up-to-date, research-based information on the nutrient needs of agricultural animals. Since forming in 2010, the National Animal Nutrition Program has created a database of animal feed ingredients. The database is a vital tool to inform cost-effective production decisions, animal welfare policies and procedures, and to guarantee the safety and nutritional value of consumers' food.

"Feed is the largest livestock and poultry production expense, and better information on animal nutritional needs and feeding strategies is key to making livestock production sustainable and effective," stated Merlin Lindemann, project leader fromUniversity of Kentucky.

Activities conducted by the program aid in the development of feeding strategies and research to enhance animal health, which allows for better productivity and lowered costs. Consumers will also benefit from safer, more nutritious meat, dairy, and eggs.

"The significance of this data is vast," says Phil Miller, project participant from University of Nebraska. "It shows how we can use the byproducts from biofuel grain production in animal feed more economically.  It also reveals how modified animal diets can reduce the emissions from livestock that contribute to global warming."

So far, the program has collected and sorted 1.5 million feed ingredient records to create a reliable database that is used by organizations in over 30 countries, including the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. 

The National Animal Nutrition Program is a National Research Support Project supported by the Agricultural Experiment Stations with funds administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The feed database is only one of many accomplishments of the NANP since its inception in 2010. For more information, visit https://nanp-nrsp-9.org/

The participating land-grant universities include:

Auburn University
University of California, Davis
University of Connecticut
University of Guelph
University of Illinois 
Iowa State University
University of Kentucky
Michigan State University 
Louisiana State University
University of Maryland 
University of Nebraska
North Carolina State University 
Ohio State University 
Pennsylvania State University
Purdue University 
Texas A&M University 
Texas Tech University 
Virginia Tech University 
Washington State University 
University of Wyoming 
USDA-ARS/Wisconsin

Published in Researchers

In the poultry industry we discuss cost/profit/loss in terms of hundredths of pennies.  Those same pennies in a year equate to millions of dollars.  

Properly evaluating any input — such as breed choice, equipment or feed additives -- at the broiler level can only be done with a properly designed commercial broiler trial within your complex.

Basing decisions on data collected from another complex or research is only a part of the story.  In many cases it’s the beginning of the story, but can lead you down the wrong path for too long if not tested within your complex using your own system.

It might be tempting to follow the path of another complex, but more often than not there are nuances within your complex that will impact the end result.  Most of the time you only have part of the other complex’s success story.  You don’t have the same inputs or outputs.

A difference in live operations (inputs) and product mix (outputs) can greatly influence the profit/loss that might be generated by following the same path within your own complex.  You need to write your own story to make the best decisions for your complex.  That story is best told through a commercial trial.

The value attached to the decisions made based on the commercial trial results warrant a properly designed, communicated and executed trial.  

A properly designed trial takes as many variables out of the equation as possible, except those you are comparing.  For instance if you are testing different breeds, you want to have a farm with:

  • Identical houses in equipment and design
  • Two houses per treatment
  • Same breeder flock ages
  • Same hatchery and set date
  • Same light, ventilation, feed and water programs

If there is a variable that could have influenced your data there will always be questions and concerns regarding the validity of the trial.  The reason for at least two houses per treatment is that it allows you to choose one house from each treatment that closely mimics the other treatment in regards to mortality, morbidity and growing conditions.  This takes out more of the variables that may have occurred during the growing cycle.  Some of those variables that have been witnessed during the growing cycle are: running out of feed in one or more houses; environmental conditions; and chick quality

It is also recommended to repeat the trial or multiple trials for the same reason, but this is not always practical.  Multiple trials help make the end picture clearer.

A properly communicated trial involves including many departments within your complex in a planning discussion weeks in advance.  Having every department on board before the birds are set in the machines will result in the best outcome.  Departments that need to be involved include: breeder department; hatchery; feed mill and delivery; broiler department; live haul; processing plant; and government institutions.

Communication about the trial will help minimize one of the biggest variables to a trial -- human error.  Assign a trial point person or persons to follow the trial through the process.  All departments need to take ownership and understand the importance of the trial results.

CHART

A properly executed trial generates the quality data needed to make the right decision.  Typically the data needed is from live as well as plant performance.  To obtain accurate live data you should select a random sample of birds from one house for each treatment, as discussed previously, the day before processing.  

The weight samples should be kept separate by sex, and collected from three areas of the house: Back, Middle and Front.  Either record individual weights, or use scales with the capability to calculate the standard deviation.  Once you have your mean (average) and standard deviation for body weight (by sex), you can fill in the boxes that define the weight category cut-offs on either side of the mean (middle) weight (See image page 22).  You will need to find the appropriate number of males and females for each weight range seen in the histogram below.  In the end, you will have four males and four females that are between 1 and 2 standard deviations below the average weight, eight males and eight females that are between the average weight and 1 standard deviation below the average, etc..

These birds should be tagged and followed the following day to the plant.  At the plant the birds should be reweighed and this individual plant weight will be your live weight.  The birds should then be sent through your processing plant.  This allows for you to see what the treatments will achieve in your operation.  Typically, the carcasses would be removed from the line just before the chiller to take the variable of water uptake out of the equation.

The next step is to have a person that is well trained to debone the carcass and to collect the individual parts with the correct bird tag.  Another person will need to record the weight for each individual deboned or whole part for each tag/band number.  The data generated by your complex can then be analyzed.

Once you have the results from the well-executed trial, you can start working on the economics to help in your decision.  The economic model should help you answer questions on how the inputs you are testing influenced your bottom line.  These are some of the factors your economic model needs to consider:

  • Will the change result in more/less housing needs?
  • How did the change influence live performance? (FCR, mortality, growth rates
  • How did the change influence processing performance? (Meat quality, yield, condemdation)
  • Will the change result in updating your system? (Hatchery, feed mill, processing plant)

Take into account all the departments involved in the trial itself.  Sometimes decisions may result in a positive for one department and a negative for another department.  If you answer how each of those departments will be affected, your goal will have been met - the scenario that results in the most hundredths of pennies for your complex.

A link is provided below on how Cobb recommends performing a commercial yield trial:

http://www.cobb-vantress.com/academy/videos/video/cobb-commercial-yield-testing-2012

Published in Meat - Broilers

August 4, 2016 - Dr. John David Summers, Professor Emeritus at the University of Guelph, passed away August 2, 2016.

He completed both his BSc. and MSc. from the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) and completed his PhD. at Rutgers. Most of his academic career was spent at the University of Guelph, initially in the Department of Poultry Science and later in the Department of Animal and Poultry Science. His ongoing contacts with industry ensured direct application of his research into various aspects of poultry nutrition that was always timely and insightful. For example, his pioneering work of nutrition and fat deposition in broilers, which is still important today, was started in 1974. His research spanned all the major poultry species, and John could always be counted on to ask penetrating questions at poultry and nutrition meetings around the globe. John was truly one of the pioneers of the golden age of poultry nutrition.

Together with his esteemed colleagues, he helped to develop what has become the foundation of our modern strategies of poultry nutrition. John had a close working relationship with Shaver Poultry in Cambridge, Ontario, and in this capacity visited over 50 different countries. John gave numerous invited lectures around the world where his insightful knowledge was always greeted with great enthusiasm, from both students and other professionals in the poultry industry. John authored over 400 research papers and co-authored 5 books on various aspects of poultry production. John became Professor Emeritus in 1990 and received the Order of OAC in 2013.

A celebration of life for Dr. Summers is taking place Monday August 15 at the Village Centre at the Village by the Aboretum in Guelph, Ont. from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Please RSVP to Bill Summers, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (226) 820-5000. If you have photos of John that you could share for a photo display, please send them to Bill or bring them with you the day of the event.

Published in Nutrition and Feed

August 2, 2016- Canadian biotechnology company AbCelex has received an investment of $3.4 million from the federal government to develop a new line of anti-microbial feed additives to help control disease outbreaks in poultry flocks.

Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains, on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (AAFC), Lawrence MacAulay, made the announcement July 29.

The company is developing a line of innovative non-antibiotic, non-hormonal additives that are specifically targeted at Campylobacter and Salmonella, two of the most common food-borne bacteria that infect poultry. The new anti-microbials – called “nanobodies” – will result in healthier poultry and improve food safety.

AbCelex is a Canadian biotechnology company focused on developing livestock food additives that help improve animal health and food safety.

AAFC supports the development and adoption of industry-led initiatives regarding biosecurity and animal care to support the prudent use of antimicrobials.

This project will be conducted in collaboration with the International Vaccine Centre at the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Toronto and the Colorado Quality Research Inc. Funding for this project comes from the AgriInnovation Program (Research and Development Stream) as part of the Growing Forward 2 agricultural policy framework.

Published in Nutrition and Feed

July 14, 2016 - The global poultry industry is increasingly utilizing dietary β-mannanase enzyme supplementation for poultry diets as a valuable option to enhance production. But are the purported benefits supported by the latest science?

New research results, unveiled at the 2016 Poultry Science Association (PSA) annual meeting, July 11-13 in New Orleans, call into question the value of single activity β-mannanase source formulations, particularly when used with soybean meal based diets representing the vast majority of global production.

The fresh knowledge presented at PSA centres around a newly completed study led by Dr. Anna Rogiewicz of the University of Manitoba – an institution recognized among the global leaders in novel feed ingredient and feed enzyme research. Program collaborators include the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland, and Canadian Bio-Systems Inc.

“We’re learning that the story around mannans and mannanase is more complex,” says Rogiewicz. “There are questions that need more validation in the context of a soybean meal based diet, including the theory that β-mannans in the feed trigger an energy-draining feed induced immune response that would be minimized by β-mannanase supplementation.”

The multi-component study included analysis of β-mannan content in soybean meal based diets, along with in vitro experiments to evaluate the affinity of several leading β-mannanase source formulations, specifically with soybean meal based β-mannans.

The study also involved an in vivo broiler chicken trial to further evaluate impacts with the β-mannanase source formulations added to soybean meal based diets. This component was designed to evaluate the immune trigger theory.

The results confirmed that the β-mannan content within soybean meal based diets is very low and that – as opposed to the high amounts of β-mannans present in guar, copra or palm kernel meals – this small amount in soybean meal is not likely to contribute to any increased intestinal viscosity in poultry fed corn/soybean meal based diets.

The in vitro experiments showed substantial breakdown of β-mannans due to β-mannanase activity. However, results with the in vivo study showed “no effect” in terms of growth performance. There was also no evidence shown to indicate that the level of soybean meal based β-mannans triggered a feed induced immune response. This was evaluated by analysis of the weight of immune organs and the level of immunoglobulins in serum and the intestine.

“The theory has been that because β-mannans have a molecular pattern similar to some pathogens, this triggers a feed induced immunity response, thereby consuming energy that would be preferably directed to growth and performance,” says Rogiewicz. “However, the results of this study would indicate no feed induced immunity response triggered by β-mannans in soybean meal based diets. This may be due to the very low level of β-mannans in soybean meal based diets, as opposed to the much higher levels in, for example, copra or palm kernel meal based diets.”

Broader research and analysis by the University of Manitoba program suggests the best pathway to address β-mannans, along with a full range of target substrates in poultry feed, is through a multi-carbohydrase enzyme approach that utilizes synergies between enzyme sources and activities to maximize feed nutrition capture.  More information is available at www.canadianbio.com.

 

Published in Nutrition and Feed

July 18, 2016 - The genes of some chickens make them almost completely resistant to a serious strain of bird flu, new research has revealed. The findings, which are published in the journal Scientific Reports, show that genetics play a key part in whether the birds are susceptible or resistant to the potentially deadly virus. READ MORE 

Published in Genetics

 

The hardy properties of Camelina sativa give it lots of potential for growing in Canada. It’s tolerant to frost and drought, doesn’t mind cool germination temperatures, thrives in marginal soils, and matures in a short 85 to 100 days, ideal even for northern Saskatchewan or Alberta.

Also known as “false flax” or “wild flax,” camelina is most wanted for its oil but now, 100 years after being introduced to North America, the mustard plant is being re-discovered and re-evaluated as livestock feed, fuelled by close to $3.7 million in funding initiatives to develop market ready varieties.

Rob Patterson is the technical director for Canadian Bio-Systems Inc., a company that researches, develops and manufactures a wide range of products used in food, feed, industrial and environmental applications. Speaking to the Poultry Industry Council (PIC) Innovations Symposium, Patterson explained how camelina had historically been replaced in modern poultry diets by rapeseed and canola but is now experiencing a resurgence due to its multiple uses as a source of omega-3 oil as well as its potential in biofuels, high-end bio-lubricants and plastics and even jet fuel.

Several recent studies have been conducted to re-establish baseline feeding levels and nutritional recommendations for camelina meal in poultry diets. Cold pressed, non-solvent extracted oil cake was approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in 2015 for use in feed up to 12 per cent for broilers only; camelina is not yet approved for use in layers or pigs.

How does camelina meal compare to canola meal? Using numbers from the canola feeding guide, Patterson pointed to camelina having a higher Neutral Detergent Fibre (NDF) and Acid Detergent Fibre (ADF) value than canola, but a comparable amino acid spectrum. At 12 per cent fat, camelina meal was a good energy source, compared to canola meal at 3 per cent fat due to oil extraction. The percentage of favorable linoleic and linolenic acid (omega-3) is quite high (39 per cent), but there are also some glucosinolate compounds present, similar to those in rapeseed, that are common to the brassica family and may cause feed refusals. Patterson suggested that more research and breeding work is needed to ensure this issue doesn’t put constraints on the diet.

One study at the Atlantic Poultry Research Centre in Truro, N.S., found that gain in broilers dropped off as camelina inclusion reached 15 per cent of the diet, suggesting the defining line was somewhere between 10 and 15 per cent. Feed refusal resulted in less feed being consumed and therefore less growth, but feed conversion rates stayed the same. Patterson suggests that the 12 per cent cap on camelina inclusion may be unrealistic, recommending somewhere between five and 10 per cent.

As an omega-3 enrichment factor, camelina meal has potential but it’s not there yet, especially with the 12 per cent inclusion rate cap. To label a product as omega-3 enriched requires a level of 300 milligrams per 100 grams of meat. Even with enzyme supplementation, one study in 2015 by Nairn et al. at the University of Alberta could not reach that level with 12 per cent inclusion of camelina, although they did reach the enrichment level in thigh meat by day 42 with 16 per cent inclusion. In the U.S., camelina can be included up to 10 per cent on broiler and layer diets in omega-3 enriched programs but the U.S. omega-3 level of claim is lower.

Camelina oil has higher vitamin E levels than flax oil, meaning a longer shelf life, and it could be more effective than flax for meat enhancement, but Patterson doesn’t see camelina as a viable alternative to flax at this time. The caps to the usage of camelina in poultry diets as he sees them are with the limit to the level of inclusion and regulatory constraints at this time.

While he hopes to explore new opportunities with layers within the next year, indicating there is potential there, he regards it as a niche with limited opportunity that is not set to grow much unless producers are spurred by market demand to use camelina as a replacement for flax or genetically modified canola.

 

 

 

Published in Nutrition and Feed

June 24, 2016 - The United Egg Producers announced last week that they are commited to ending the practice of male chick culling in the next four years.  Canadian technology developed by Michael Ngadi, a professor of bioresource engineering at McGill University, to develop a machine that selects female eggs before they're hatched may help. READ MORE 

Published in Eggs - Layers

June 24, 2016 - Millennials are driving the greatest change the food industry has seen in 70 years, demanding fresher ingredients, greater sustainability, farm-to-market accountability and more. Chief among the demands is for vegetarian-fed meats, chicken in particular. With poultry producers left to find solutions immediately, the introduction of the world's first pure vegan protein supplement for poultry, Vegain, looks to change the way both broilers and layers are fed.

Dr. Clark Springfield, General Manager, H.J. Baker Animal Health & Nutrition, said in a release “the moment we realized the need for a vegetarian-fed chicken was becoming mainstream rather than a niche market, we knew the poultry industry would need to respond. We developed Vegain and got it into testing quickly. The results exceeded even our expectations. Now producers can have a pure vegetable protein that out-produced traditional animal protein in head-to-head university trials."

To learn more about Vegain, visit hjbaker.com  

Published in Nutrition and Feed

 

Board of Directors Changes
CPRC held its Annual General Meeting in March followed by a meeting of the board of directors. Two new directors joined the board replacing long-time directors who had decided to step down. Roelof Meijer, an eight-year board member representing Turkey Farmers of Canada (TFC) and chair for the past three years, was replaced by Brian Ricker from Ontario.  Cheryl Firby, the Canadian Hatching Egg Producers (CHEP) board member has been replaced by Murray Klassen from Manitoba.

Tim Keet (Chicken Farmers of Canada) was elected chair with Helen Anne Hudson (Egg Farmers of Canada) elected vice-chair. Erica Charlton (Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council) was elected as a member of the executive committee along with the chair and vice-chair.

Poultry Science Cluster
The Poultry Science Cluster, co-funded between industry, provincial governments and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has completed year three of its five-year research plan.  The cluster, the second that CPRC has administered, is a $5.6 million program with $4 million from AAFC and the balance from industry and provincial governments.  Seventeen research projects in four categories make up the cluster, details of which can be found at www.cp-rc.ca/poultry-science-cluster-2/.

The Poultry Science Cluster runs from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2018 and some research projects are being completed. Two projects were scheduled to be completed by March 31, 2016, and are winding up with final analysis and reporting underway. Ten projects are scheduled to be complete by the end of March 2017 with the final five projects being completed by the end of the cluster in March 2018.

Poultry Research Strategy Update
CPRC has begun a process to update the 2012 document National Research Strategy for Canada’s Poultry Sector, which formed the basis for much of the research structure of the Poultry Science Cluster. While much of the strategy remains relevant many of the research priorities identified have evolved and new issues have become important to the poultry industry. Two new priority areas, climate change impacts and precision agriculture, were added to this year’s CPRC call for Letters of Intent.

The strategy update is designed to validate and/or amend priorities from the 2012 document and to identify new priority areas since 2012. Issues that may be on the horizon but have not yet become poultry research initiatives will also be identified. The update will seek input from producers through the national and provincial representative organizations, scientific community including university and government, and other industry stakeholder organizations representing a broad range of value-chain members. Consultations will include surveys and webinars to gather information as well as to seek feedback on the updated strategy as it is developed. Target completion of the research strategy is early in 2017 so it can be used as the basis for a new application if a third science cluster program is included in the next federal-provincial agreement upon the expiry of the current Growing Forward 2 initiative.

New CPRC Website
The April CPRC Update announced that CPRC has a new website. Changing a website is a lot more than having someone do a new design. All of the material on the website has to be reviewed and decisions made on what should stay, what should go and new material that should be added. An important part of the CPRC website is the research summaries that are posted on all CPRC co-funded projects. A review of those summaries indicated that there were several formats being used, particularly during the last several years, and some project summaries had been missed. A format was adopted, very similar to one of those that had been used, and CPRC has reviewed all summaries, and edited them as necessary, to ensure consistency in presentation.

CPRC, its board of directors and member organizations are committed to supporting and enhancing Canada’s poultry sector through research and related activities. For more details on these or any other CPRC activities, please contact The Canadian Poultry Research Council, 350 Sparks Street, Suite 1007, Ottawa, Ontario, K1R 7S8, phone: (613) 566-5916, fax: (613) 241-5999, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit us at www.cp-rc.ca.

 


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

 

 

 

 

Published in Turkeys

May 26, 2016 - Two whiteboard videos explaining the Code development process are now available from the National Farm Animal Care Council’s (NFACC) You Tube channel. The first video, Raising the Bar: The Code Development Process explains the seven steps of a Code’s development: 

(www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2cvixnA_MQ ).

The second video, Key Features of the Code Development Process highlights important Code process features that contribute to sustainable animal welfare improvements and public trust while supporting the viability of Canadian farmers:

(www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFbyJlFqwnM).

The updated Codes of Practice for Hatching Eggs, Breeders, Chickens and Turkeys should be released in June 2016.

An update on the Code development process and the status of the Code for egg-laying hens (layer Code) is available here: http://www.nfacc.ca/news?articleid=263

 

Published in Researchers

May 25, 2016 - Recognized welfare outcome assessments within farm assurance schemes have shown a reduction in feather loss and improvement in the welfare of UK cage-free laying hens, according to the findings of a study from the AssureWel project by the University of Bristol, RSPCA and the Soil Association. READ MORE

Published in Consumer Issues

 

While chefs and dieticians encourage the consumption of turkey and turkey products with nutritional information and delicious recipes, geneticists work away at the other end of the production chain, trying to create a better bird for a global market.

The consumer may never have to worry about how to stuff a 60-pound turkey in their oven for Thanksgiving, but at our current rate of progress, it’s not out of line to suggest that the farmer can expect to turn out a 20-week tom of that size for further processing markets, while still needing to produce a smaller table bird with different and possibly unique characteristics.

It’s a challenging task. Paige Rohlf is the research and development manager for Aviagen Turkeys Inc., where she manages the breeding program, selects pedigree lines, and implements new technology and selection techniques. As she explained to the audience at the 2015 PIC Innovations Conference, it takes up to four years for anything at the pedigree level to filter back into the farm level commercial bird and have an effect on the industry.

“It still takes time,” Rohlf said. “It’s very important that we have feedback.” At the pedigree level, everyone is your customer. What’s working? What’s not working? Where is the industry going? What are the domestic and global trends?

What does our Canadian bird look like now? AAFC monitors domestic turkey meat production by bird size: over 40 per cent of domestic Canadian turkey meat production is comprised of heavy birds – those weighing more than 11 kilograms – and mature turkeys. Turkey breasts coming from these large birds are used for deli products or turkey breast roasts, while the dark meat or meat from mature birds will end up as turkey kielbasa or pepperoni, turkey bacon, or turkey burgers and franks. The remaining birds that hit the market are less than 11 kilograms, with 75 per cent sold at retail as whole birds and the rest sold as parts. Our seasonal market parallels that of the U.S. with nearly 80 per cent of whole birds ending up on our Christmas or Thanksgiving tables.

Globally, Aviagen is keeping its eye on current increased production in North Africa and Russia, and potential for increasing markets with importing countries such as Mexico, the EU, China, South Africa and Russia. In terms of consumption, Asia presents a real opportunity: South Central and Eastern Asia will be dependent on importing meat because the population is growing faster than production can support. In Taiwan, turkey is a working man’s meal, as it is more affordable for restaurants to purchase whole turkeys and boil them down to serve over rice than it is to purchase broilers.

But it’s not just volume that must be contemplated when trying to define a “better bird.” The industry is also faced with factors such as increasing competition for land, water and resources, as well as an evolving consumer, making genetic decisions more challenging. In the EU, the industry has started labeling the carbon footprint on food. Rohlf predicts this trend will come our way. It’s hard to calculate but it makes people feel good to buy a product with claims of a lower carbon footprint. Add to this consumer concerns about fertilizer and pesticide use, housing and management systems, raising birds organically or with restricted antibiotics, and layered on top of changes from a whole bird market for making bigger birds and more eggs to a resource management perspective, all while keeping turkey competitive with broilers and pork.

On the production side, think about where we raise the birds. It’s different all around the world, but over the past 70 years, there has been a global trend to raise them indoors, which Rohlf points to as a big step in the right direction in terms of survival. The bird we see is the result of genetics expressed in that environment. There are a lot more inputs we can now measure every day: their weight, feed conversion and health. We can control their environment, their feed, their water and their lighting, but how much can we control their genetics?

What we can control by genetic selection is determined by the heritability of the trait – a highly heritable trait allows faster progress. For example, growth rate is highly heritable: a heavy tom mated with a heavy hen will have heavy offspring; the environment doesn’t matter as much. But it’s not all just as simple as weighing a bird. Feed efficiency is less heritable; reproduction traits, fitness or survival, and livability are much more influenced by the environment, therefore it is harder to make improvements in these traits and we have to rely on technology to collect information to make selection decisions.

When it comes to nutrition, Rohlf then raises the question, how do we feed the birds to realize their full genetic potential? “This is where the challenges are.” While large companies have their own in-house nutritionists and feed companies generally know how to feed turkeys, there are no recent published standards (the last was in 1994). Since then, U.S. heavy toms have gotten 10 pounds heavier. Are we breeding for growth rate or breast meat yield? As the saying goes, the last bit of feed is the most efficient: the birds need to gain weight for maintenance, then they put on additional weight, then the feed goes to the breast. How do the birds use different feeds for maintenance? For growth? For breast meat production?

Some in-house research is indicating protein levels can be reduced as long as amino acids are balanced, while alternative feedstuffs and fillers offer different amino acid spectrums over the traditional corn and soybean diet. More research is needed to determine how the birds utilize amino acids, or use new feeds such as dried distiller’s grains, or how probiotics will affect genetic potential.  

Rohlf is excited about a new genetic opportunity with satellite cells. These myoblasts – baby muscle cells – are determined before a bird hatches but defined after the bird is hatched. Can we make more breast meat by promoting feed intake in the first few days after hatch to stimulate these satellite cells?

Genetic programs have so far focused on efficiency, growth and fitness. For this year, Rohlf expects an improvement of 0.34 per cent in breast meat yield as per cent of live weight in toms at 20 weeks of age, continuing a steady pace of improvement. She also predicts four points of improvement in feed conversion for toms at 45 pounds (20.4 kg), from 2.45 to 2.41 pounds of feed per pound of gain. In weight, toms at 20 weeks of age will be 0.70 pounds (320 g) heavier this year. Aviagen Turkeys’ breeding goal also includes several measures of fitness, including walking ability and livability. These traits receive similar emphasis in selection as the growth and efficiency traits.

 

 

 

Published in Meat - Turkeys

May 12, 2016 - New data from a survey of wheat samples from across Canada is helping to drive optimized feeding strategies for pigs and poultry.

The survey was led by Canadian Bio-Systems Inc. (CBS Inc.) and the University of Manitoba in cooperation with farming operations and feed mills across four provinces. 



"Feeding strategies are becoming more sophisticated and represent one of the greatest opportunities for livestock operations to improve efficiency and profitability," says Rob Patterson, Technical Director of CBS Inc. "The key to maximizing value from feed is to first understand the nutritional profile of the ingredients at the deepest level possible, then apply this knowledge to strategies designed to get the most bang per bite. The wheat survey is a new effort to help provide this knowledge for feed wheat." 



For the 2015-2016 wheat survey, wheat samples were collected from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario from August to October 2015. Location, variety, date of collection and other pertinent information was recorded at the time of collection. All samples were analyzed over the following months at the University of Manitoba’s Department of Animal Science, producing a wealth of data on a variety of parameters including crude protein, starch, non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) – both water soluble and water insoluble – and neutral-detergent fibre, as well as total phytate and non-phytate phosphorus. 



"The picture presented by the analysis gives us a fresh look, at an in-depth level, at the nutritional value available in the feed wheat, as well as the potential to unlock more of the feed value – for example, through the use of feed additives that help break down the hard-to-digest components," says Patterson. "The new data collected from this survey will be made available to industry, to help in the formulation of precision diets, particularly for swine and poultry." 



The results show some regional variation, he says. They also confirm characteristics that can be addressed through feeding strategies. 

"Overall we see a high-quality feed ingredient," says Patterson. "We also get a clearer picture of how to get the most value and best performance using this feed source. For example, the survey results help us pin down the levels of water soluble and water insoluble NSP present in the wheat. Water soluble NSP are significant because they can slow feed passage. Water insoluble NSP are significant because they are hard-to-digest and thereby lock away nutrients. With knowledge from the survey, we see ways to optimize the performance of the animals. We also see ways to improve the overall nutritional value obtained from the wheat, by five percent or more." 



The 2015-2016 wheat survey follows up on an initial survey conducted in 2014. Plans are to continue this approach for multiple years, in order to build an increasingly valuable resource of information, says Patterson. 

"As we strive to get more customized and precise in feeding approaches, feed wheat is near the top of our list of priorities in Canada.

For pigs and poultry, year-to-year, wheat is the most common feed ingredient in Western Canada and it is also important in Eastern Canada. Building this knowledge base is a great opportunity to help Canada reach a new, higher level of livestock production success." 

More information on the 2015-2016 wheat survey, including a map and key charts, is available on request by contacting CBS Inc.

Published in Nutrition and Feed

April 27, 2016 - Hybrid Turkeys is giving back to the agricultural science community by donating $125,000 to the University of Guelph, Canada.

This gift will support turkey welfare research at the University’s Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare (CCSAW). The centre, under the direction of Prof. Tina Widowski, promotes the welfare of animals through research, outreach and education and seeks to better understand how animals perceive and respond to their environments and the ways that we handle them. 

Prof. Widowski’s research group has tackled some difficult issues including transportation of pigs and methods for euthanasia in poultry. Her goal is to determine how we can match agricultural systems to the animals’ behavioural biology in order to develop best practices for their care. 

Dave Libertini, Managing Director of Hybrid Turkeys says, “Our support of the Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare and Prof. Widowski’s research team, demonstrates the commitment Hybrid Turkeys has to the overall health and wellbeing of animals, not only under our care, but within the entire industry.”

Poultry welfare research priorities will be determined in consultation with a poultry welfare advisory committee, which will include representatives from both the University of Guelph and from Hybrid Turkeys. This collaborative approach will ensure industry issues are considered for research and that research results are shared.

Dr. Helen Wojcinski DVM, a University of Guelph alumna and Manager of Science and Sustainability for Hybrid Turkeys says, “Ensuring animal health and wellbeing is at the centre of our business, and so we highly value this relationship with the University of Guelph. We look forward to the positive outcomes of this research in animal welfare.” 

 “I am pleased that Hybrid Turkeys has joined a number of other industry partners to support the research of the poultry welfare group of CCSAW,” says Widowski. “The Campbell Centre is currently the largest of its kind in North America with over 40 associated faculty members who all specialise in various areas of animal welfare and behaviour.”

Published in Researchers

 

The poultry industry has a long and complicated supply chain, incorporating a wide spectrum of costs and benefits. When you think about sustainability in that chain, it doesn’t make sense to improve one part of the system if that change may unintentionally burden another part of the process and outweigh the advantages achieved.

Nathan Pelletier is the president of Global Ecologic, an independent sustainability consulting firm that measures and manages strategy in food and other industrial systems. Speaking at the 2015 Canadian Poultry Sustainability Conference in London, Ont., he explained how life cycle thinking could be used to help analyze the past, present and future of the poultry industry in the quest for sustainability.

Life cycle thinking – changing from a management perspective to a systems perspective – is an analytical process that helps to examine the relevant interactions associated with the production of goods and services, allowing us to pinpoint which aspects of the supply chain have the biggest impact.

The results of life cycle thinking can often be counterintuitive, flying in the face of our current thoughts. For example, is local food more sustainable? With life cycle analysis, this argument is no longer credible if you factor in the efficiencies of transport over long distances by rail, truck or boat. “There will always be trade-offs,” said Pelletier. “We need to be conscious of these to make decisions regarding our own priorities.”

For the poultry industry, he sees no alternative but to embrace this management philosophy throughout the supply chain, but Pelletier says it won’t be a straightforward journey.

Complexity will surround everything from agreeing on definitions of sustainability to operationalizing the information, but he predicts that life cycle thinking will become a requirement in the new marketplace, coming to the forefront of regulatory guidelines within 10 years.

Looking back over 50 years, in an in-depth historical life cycle analysis published in the Poultry Journal in 2014, Pelletier compared the environmental footprint of the poultry industry in the U.S. in 1960 versus 2010, putting some hard numbers around poultry production.

The modern poultry industry is not the same as it was 50 years ago, and that’s an interesting story itself. His results show astonishing changes.

While egg production in the U.S. has risen 30 per cent in 50 years, the environmental footprint per kilogram of eggs produced in 2010 is 65 per cent lower in acidifying emissions, 71 per cent lower in eutrophying emissions, 71 per cent lower in greenhouse gas emissions and 31 per cent lower in cumulative energy demand during that same time.

According to Pelletier, the reduction could be attributed to factors such as feed and manure management. Up to 30 per cent of the improvement is based in improved efficiencies of background systems, for example supply chain efficiencies in transportation and energy use. Thirty to 44 per cent was from changes in feed composition, reflecting efficiencies realized in crop production with less inputs for increased yields. Another 28 to 43 per cent was due to improvements in genetics, feed conversion and bird health.

Productivity has increased 50 per cent, from 195 eggs to 297 eggs annually. In 1960, 3.1 kg of feed equaled one kg of eggs; now only two kg of feed is needed per kg of eggs. Not only that but the birds are healthier, with 63 per cent lower mortality.

This is a good news story, but how does poultry stack up against other protein sources? It’s hard to compare unless studies have been done with the same protocols, said Pelletier, but in general, monogastrics are more efficient. The most efficient protein source is pork, followed by eggs, both better than beef. This matters because sustainability is becoming such a differentiating factor in the marketplace, for social license, regulatory compliance and market access. In this respect, poultry is well positioned for the future.

Looking forward, Pelletier suggested that proactive engagement in sustainability is essential, making four suggestions.

First, develop a Canadian life cycle inventory of consistent data to support production. Defending any kind of comparison requires such data.

The poultry industry also needs to develop and implement a transparent, multi-criteria sustainability benchmarking program for producers, to support sustainability initiatives and provide benchmarking and goal setting targets.

He sees a third opportunity in acting as a leader in pushing new frontiers. “Don’t be too attached to the status quo,” said Pelletier. “Just think about the changes in your industry over the past 50 years, and imagine where you could be 50 years from now?” Support and participate in the research that will be necessary to define the sustainable poultry production systems of the future.

Finally, formalize a commitment industry wide by engaging all stakeholders in a round-table discussion on sustainability, defining a common vision and a strategy to achieve it. As Pelletier says, “use it as an opportunity to see sustainability not as a challenge or as a hoop to jump through, but as a source of competitive advantage, as an exciting and necessary collaborative journey toward that shared vision of the future.”

 

 

 

Published in Environment

April 9, 2016 - Connections and collaboration were a key theme during the Poultry Health Research Network (PHRN) Research Day at the University of Guelph March 29.

The research day brought together representatives from government, industry and academia to provide updates on current research and prompt discussion for future collaborations.

“The whole intent was to ensure that our industry partners and our researchers, either from academia or the government agencies that work with us, have a chance to mingle and talk about their research needs and what we can do to address those research needs,” said Dr. Shayan Sharif, an immunologist in the Ontario Veterinary College’s Department of Pathobiology and leader of the PHRN.

The University of Guelph has had a long-standing commitment to innovation in animal health and production, with one of the largest groups of poultry scientists and poultry experts in North America. The Poultry Health Research Network has been steadily expanding since its inception in 2012 and now includes more than 60 members from across the UofG campus, as well as industry and government researchers. 

Lloyd Longfield, Member of Parliament for Guelph, addressed the group during lunch, pointing out how important it is to work together to “share resources and specific expertise to solve global problems.”

Bringing everyone together in the room is where it needs to start, he added. “We’ve got researchers from the government here, we’ve got researchers from university, we’ve got industry and that’s really the chemistry we need to drive forward.”

“Here at the University of Guelph we have an unprecedented and unique gathering of expertise in support of the poultry industry,” said OVC Dean Jeff Wichtel, in addressing the group. “It involves upwards of five of our seven colleges and spans the breadth from poultry welfare right through to vaccine development and molecular basis for immunity to disease.”

During the day, UofG researchers, including MSc, PhD students and post-doctoral researchers, outlined current research in a variety of areas, including poultry welfare, biosecurity, vaccine development, nutrition, and antimicrobial resistance. Afternoon presentations with industry representatives, including pharmaceutical, feed, genetics and equipment companies, and researchers provided a forum to explore areas of mutual interest for future collaborations.

Sharif recognized funding from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for part of the research day and also acknowledged the Poultry Industry Council, Canadian Poultry Research Council, Livestock Research Innovation Corporation and the Ontario Veterinary College for their ongoing support for PHRN’s work. 

Published in Housing

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