United States
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
April 20, 2017, Ottawa, Onario - Conservative leadership candidate Maxime Bernier has welcomed U.S. Donald Trump's swipe at the Canadian dairy industry, saying that it's not just American farmers who are losing out.

Bernier says Canadians suffer more under supply management than Americans and if elected leader he promises to abolish the system.

On Tuesday, Trump targeted Canada explicitly in taking the next steps in his ''Buy American, Hire American'' policy, suggesting Wisconsin farmers are suffering because of the Canadian system.

Supply management has long vexed conservatives because it stands in sharp contrast to their belief in free markets, but most refuse to suggest dismantling the system as there is support for it in key constituencies.

Among them is Quebec, but that's not stopped Bernier from lashing out against the farms in his home province who are part of the system, making him the lone leadership contender to do so.

Bernier calls supply management a cartel, a phrase his competitor Erin O'Toole says turns farming families into nothing more than political props.

O'Toole says Bernier's policy demonstrates a lack of understand of agriculture and that the current system has nothing to do with any market specific issues in the United States.
Published in Trade
April 17, 2017, Chicago, IL - Global outbreaks of bird flu in poultry have altered the flow of U.S. chicken meat, eggs and grain around the world, adding to challenges faced by domestic exporters and giving a leg up to Brazil, which has so far escaped the disease.

Different strains of avian flu have been detected across Asia, Europe, Africa and in the U.S. in recent months, leading to the culling of millions of birds and a flurry of import restrictions on eggs and chicken meat.

U.S. grain traders such as Bunge and Cargill have lost business because poultry deaths have reduced feed demand. Some domestic poultry producers, though, have managed to boost sales by taking advantage of trading bans that hurt rivals.

Sanderson Farms, the third-largest U.S. poultry producer, said it sold more chicken to Iraq when Baghdad backed away from Europe’s poultry due to bird flu, or avian influenza (AI), in the bloc.

Iraq imported 84.2 million kg of U.S. chicken meat last year, about three per cent of total U.S. chicken meat exports.

Data on chicken exports is not yet available for March, when the U.S. confirmed its first case of a highly lethal form of bird flu in commercial poultry in more than a year.

After the finding, South Korea, suffering its own worst-ever outbreak of bird flu, blocked U.S. poultry and eggs. That shut off opportunities for U.S. exporters hoping to make sales to cover shortfalls in South Korea, said Keithly Jones, a senior economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Last month, USDA cut its forecast for 2017 U.S. egg exports by six per cent to 305 million dozen because of South Korea’s ban.

U.S. grain traders, who were grappling with a global supply glut before flocks in other countries were culled to contain bird flu, have faced lower demand for the corn and soybeans that provide feed for chickens.

Bunge, one of the world’s top grain and oilseed traders, told Reuters that shipments to South Korea for February and March declined “on the back of reduced feed productions.” Shipments have since been picking up, according to the company.

In March, Cargill said South Korea’s outbreak, in which about 35 million birds have been culled, contributed to a decrease in quarterly earnings in its global animal nutrition unit. READ MORE
Published in Trade
April 11, 2017, Louisville, KY - Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) U.S., the country's largest chicken quick service resturant, has announced its plans to extend its food promise to customers, announcing that, by the end of 2018, all chicken purchased by KFC U.S. will be raised without antibiotics important to human medicine.

This move marks the first time a major national quick service restaurant chain in the U.S. has extended an antibiotics commitment beyond boneless chicken to its chicken-on-the-bone menu items. 

In addition to its antibiotics pledge, the brand has also made commitments that by the end of 2018, all core products will be free of artificial colors and flavors. Today, all KFC chicken is free of food dyes, and 100 per cent of the menu will be free of food dyes by the end of 2017, excluding beverages and third-party products. READ MORE
Published in Company News
April 11, 2017 - The Trump administration has taken its initial step in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), sending the U.S. Congress a draft list of priorities for the negotiation.

The letter makes reference to a number of changes, including the specific mention of “opening Canada’s protections on dairy and poultry imports.”

The letter also touches on government procurement, tax policy, intellectual property, and rules of origin for things like car parts, telecommunications and dispute resolution. It also suggests a mechanism to impose tariffs if imports flood in and threaten U.S. industry.

The U.S. Congress will now be involved in revising the list. The administration will then issue a formal notice that it wants to renegotiate the deal and spend a minimum of 90 days consulting lawmakers and industry. Formal talks with Canada and Mexico could begin this summer or fall. READ MORE.
Published in Trade
No matter what size of farm or type of production, today’s farmers and ranchers are dedicated to producing safe, abundant food in a way that preserves and improves the land most of them hope to pass on to their children.
Published in Consumer Issues
In January, new broiler producer Brent Pryce welcomed more than 20,000 birds (14,000 quota) into his brand new barn in Walton, Ont.
Published in New Technology
March 30, 2017, University Park, PA — Poultry and animal disease experts in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences are urging commercial poultry producers to ramp up their vigilance and biosecurity in the wake of recent outbreaks of avian influenza in several states.

In early March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) announced that a commercial flock of breeder chickens in Tennessee tested positive for highly pathogenic avian flu, or HPAI. Since then, USDA-APHIS has revealed another case of the same H7N9 virus at a second Tennessee farm, and Alabama agriculture officials announced an outbreak of suspected low-pathogenic avian flu affecting three premises in that state.

In addition, low-pathogenic avian flu was reported in a Wisconsin turkey flock and a Kentucky broiler breeder flock, and routine surveillance has found the presence of low-pathogenic avian flu in wild waterfowl in various states.

The pathogenicity of a virus refers to its ability to produce disease. Some H5 or H7 viruses have the capacity to mutate into "high-path" strains under certain conditions, according to Eva Wallner-Pendleton, senior research associate and avian pathologist in Penn State's Animal Diagnostic Laboratory.

"Low-path AI viruses can go undiagnosed because they often produce very little illness or death," she said. "The time needed to mutate into high-path viruses varies considerably from weeks to months, or it can occur rapidly."

Infection with North American strains of low-pathogenic avian flu is a common natural occurrence in wild birds, such as ducks and geese, which usually show few or no symptoms, Wallner-Pendleton explained.

"But if these strains get into a poultry flock, they can mutate and become highly pathogenic, causing significant mortality," she said.

She noted that poultry flocks infected with low-pathogenic H5 or H7 avian flu subtypes often will be culled to stop the spread of the virus and to keep it from becoming more virulent.

The recent Tennessee outbreak occurred within the Mississippi flyway, which is one of four paths taken by wild birds when migrating in the spring and fall in North America. During the 2014-15 outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian flu that led to the loss of about 50 million turkeys and laying hens in the Midwest, the Atlantic flyway – which connects with the Mississippi flyway – was the only migratory flyway not affected.

"In Tennessee, one of the affected poultry houses was near a pond, which may have attracted wild waterfowl," Wallner-Pendleton said. "In cool, wet weather, bird droppings can contain viable virus for a long time, and the pathogen can be spread to poultry flocks on people's shoes or on vehicle tires and so forth. So a key biosecurity recommendation is to prevent any contact between waterfowl and domestic poultry and to take steps to ensure that the virus is not introduced into a poultry house on clothing or equipment."

Gregory Martin, a Penn State Extension poultry science educator based in Lancaster County, pointed out that state and federal agriculture officials are strongly urge producers to develop an HPAI flock plan and augment it with a comprehensive biosecurity plan.

"These plans may be required for producers to receive indemnification for any losses resulting from an avian flu outbreak," he said.

To assist producers in developing a biosecurity plan, Martin said, Penn State poultry scientists and veterinarians have developed a plan template that can be customized for various types of flocks.
Published in Broilers
March 28, 2017, Atlanta, GA – A flock of chickens at a commercial poultry breeding operation located in Chattooga County has tested positive for H7, presumptive low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI).

This is the first confirmation of avian influenza in domestic poultry in Georgia.

The virus was identified during routine pre-sale screening for the commercial facility and was confirmed as H7 avian influenza by the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Ia. As a precaution, the affected flock has been depopulated. Officials are testing and monitoring other flocks within the surveillance area and no other flocks have tested positive or experienced any clinical signs.

The announcement follows similar confirmations from Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee in recent weeks. The Georgia case is considered a presumptive low pathogenic avian influenza because the flock did not show any signs of illness. While LPAI is different from HPAI, control measures are under way as a precautionary measure. Wild birds are the source of the virus. Avian influenza virus strains often occur naturally in wild birds, and can infect wild migratory birds without causing illness.

“Poultry is the top sector of our number one industry, agriculture, and we are committed to protecting the livelihoods of the many farm families that are dependent on it,” said Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary W. Black. “In order to successfully do that, it is imperative that we continue our efforts of extensive biosecurity.”

The official order prohibiting poultry exhibitions and the assembling of poultry to be sold issued by the state veterinarian’s office on March 16, 2017, remains in effect. The order prohibits all poultry exhibitions, sales at regional and county fairs, festivals, swap meets, live bird markets, flea markets, and auctions. The order also prohibits the concentration, collection or assembly of poultry of all types, including wild waterfowl from one or more premises for purposes of sale. Shipments of eggs or baby chicks from National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP), Avian Influenza Clean, approved facilities are not affected by this order.
Published in Broilers
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
March 24, 2017, Kitchener, Ont – Hybrid Turkeys recently announced plans for ongoing and future investments in the U.S. turkey industry.

In order to deliver quality products throughout the supply chain, Hybrid will invest in two new hatcheries, new egg production farms together with new contract partners, state-of-the-art transportation, and the skilled workforce needed to support these areas of operations.

“Our business is focused on creating value for customers and built on strong partnerships in the industry,” said Dave Libertini, managing director of Hybrid Turkeys. “As the demands of the modern consumer evolve, the stresses on a collaborative supply chain for the turkey industry have never been greater. A more transparent food system, with ever reducing use of antibiotics, means that the responsible production of high quality day old turkey poults is critical.”

The decision for Hendrix Genetics, parent of Hybrid Turkeys, does not come lightly. This move represents a significant investment of financial capital and human resources in a market long overdue for this type of upgrade.

“We are committed to delivering the quality poults that Hybrid customers are looking for,” said Peter Gruhl, general manager of Hybrid USA. “We explored many options and have decided that making an investment in new, state-of-the-art facilities is the only way we can satisfy our client’s demands.”

The move comes after an announcement in January 2015 in which Hybrid and Ag Forte entered into a commercial egg and poult supply agreement. In November 2016, Hybrid served notice that it would not seek to renew this arrangement beginning in January 2019. Hybrid will continue to supply breeding and commercial stock to the U.S. market and, with access to a global supply chain, expects no interruption in supply for their clients.
Published in Company News
March 22, 2017, Frankfort, KY — Federal and state authorities say a case of low pathogenic avian influenza has been detected in a commercial poultry flock in western Kentucky.

Kentucky State Veterinarian Robert C. Stout said the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the presence of H7N9 low pathogenic avian influenza in samples taken from the Christian County premises.

The virus exposure at the premises was initially detected by the Murray State University Breathitt Veterinary Center in Hopkinsville while conducting a routine pre-slaughter test last week. Dr. Stout said there were no clinical signs of disease in the birds. The affected premises are under quarantine, and the flock of approximately 22,000 hens was depopulated as a precautionary measure, Dr. Stout said.

“Dr. Stout and his staff have extensive experience and expertise in animal disease control and eradication,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. “They have an excellent working relationship with the Kentucky Poultry Federation and the poultry industry. They are uniquely qualified to contain this outbreak so our domestic customers and international trading partners can remain confident in Kentucky poultry.”

Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) may cause no disease or mild illness. Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) can cause severe disease with high mortality.

The Office of the Kentucky State Veterinarian and its partners in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) are conducting surveillance on flocks within a six-mile radius of the index farm, Dr. Stout said. The company that operates the farm is conducting additional surveillance testing on other commercial facilities it operates within that area.
Published in Broilers
March 16, 2017 – The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed a second case of highly pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza in a commercial breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tenn.

This H7N9 strain is of North American wild bird lineage and is the same strain of avian influenza that was previously confirmed in Tennessee. It is not the same as the China H7N9 virus that has impacted poultry and infected humans in Asia. The flock of 55,000 chickens is located in the Mississippi flyway, within three kilometers of the first Tennessee case.

Samples from the affected flock, which displayed signs of illness and experienced increased mortality, were tested at Tennessee’s Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory and confirmed at the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa.

The USDA is working with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture on the joint incident response. State officials quarantined the affected premises, and depopulation has begun. Federal and state partners will conduct surveillance and testing of commercial and backyard poultry within a 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) radius of the site.

The USDA will be informing the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as well as international trading partners of this finding.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is working directly with poultry workers at the affected facilities to ensure that they are taking the proper precautions to prevent illness and contain disease spread.
Published in Breeders
When a laying hen is finished laying she becomes “spent fowl,” with her meat used for deli purposes or tenderized and flavoured for soup or TV dinners. Much of this spent fowl is imported from the United States under no tariff restrictions, fulfilling a Canadian demand that does not displace broiler meat.
Published in Trade
March 15, 2017, Montgomery, AL — State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier, in consultation with Commissioner John McMillan, has issued a stop movement order for certain poultry in Alabama.

“The health of poultry is critically important at this time,” said Dr. Frazier. “With three investigations of avian influenza in north Alabama on three separate premises we feel that the stop movement order is the most effective way to implement biosecurity for all poultry in our state.”

The first two investigations were on two separate premises in north Alabama. One flock of chickens at a commercial breeder operation located in Lauderdale County, Ala. was found to be suspect for avian influenza. No significant mortality in the flock was reported. The other premise was a backyard flock in Madison County, Ala. Samples from both premises have been sent to the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, and are being tested to determine presence of the virus.

The most recent investigation began following routine surveillance while executing Alabama’s HPAI Preparedness and Response Plan. USDA poultry technicians collected samples at the TaCo-Bet Trade Day flea market in Scottsboro located in Jackson County, Ala. on March 12. Samples collected were suspect and those samples are on the way to the USDA lab in Ames, Iowa.

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working closely with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) on a joint incident response.

This suspected strain of avian influenza does not pose a risk to the food supply. No affected poultry entered the food chain. The risk of human infection with avian influenza during poultry outbreaks is very low.

“Following the 2015 avian influenza outbreak in the Midwest, planning, preparation, and extensive biosecurity efforts were escalated in Alabama. Industry, growers, state and federal agencies and other stakeholders have worked hard to maintain a level of readiness,” said Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan. “Our staff is committed to staying actively involved in the avian influenza situation until any threats are addressed.”
Published in Broilers
March 10, 2017, Nashville, TN – The Tennessee state veterinarian confirms that a flock of chickens at a commercial poultry breeding operation has tested positive for low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI).

This chicken breeding operation is located in Giles County, Tenn. The company that operates it is different from the one associated with the recent detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Lincoln County. At this time, officials do not believe one premise sickened the other.

On March 6, routine screening tests at the Giles County premises indicated the presence of avian influenza in the flock. State and federal laboratories confirmed the existence of H7N9 LPAI in tested samples.

“This is why we test and monitor for avian influenza,” State Veterinarian Dr. Charles Hatcher said. “When routine testing showed a problem at this facility, the operators immediately took action and notified our lab. That fast response is critical to stopping the spread of this virus.”

As a precaution, the affected flock was depopulated and has been buried. The premises is under quarantine. Domesticated poultry within a 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) radius of the site are also under quarantine and are being tested and monitored for illness. To date, all additional samples have tested negative for avian influenza and no other flocks within the area have shown signs of illness.

The primary difference between LPAI and HPAI is mortality rate in domesticated poultry. A slight change to the viral structure can make a virus deadly for birds. Avian influenza virus strains often occur naturally in wild migratory birds without causing illness in those birds. With LPAI, domesticated chickens and turkeys may show little or no signs of illness. However, HPAI is often fatal for domesticated poultry.

The Giles County LPAI incident is similar to the Lincoln County HPAI incident in that both the low pathogenic and highly pathogenic viruses are an H7N9 strain of avian influenza. USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirms the H7N9 virus that affected the Lincoln County premises is of North American wild bird lineage. It is not the same as the China H7N9 virus affecting Asia and is genetically distinct.

The Lincoln County premises affected by HPAI remains under quarantine. To date, all additional poultry samples from the area surrounding that site have tested negative for avian influenza and no other flocks within the area have shown signs of illness. Testing and monitoring continues.
Published in Health
March 8, 2017, Barron, WI – A low-pathogenic bird flu strain has been detected in a Jennie-O Turkey Store operation in Barron, Wis., marking the second bird flu case in a U.S. commercial operation this week.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture posted notice of the Barron County case to the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health's website March 7. Hormel Foods, which owns Wilmar-based Jennie-O, confirmed the H5N2 strain was detected March 4 at its Barron operation. The USDA report said 84,000 birds are at the farm. READ MORE
Published in Turkeys
Jan. 26, 2017 - Poultry genetics company Aviagen has reported that its new hatchery in Watertown, N.Y. is now fully operational and began shipping chicks to customers in early November.

Located in upstate New York just south of the Ontario border, the Watertown hatchery is strategically situated to efficiently supply Canadian customers with broiler breeding stock.

“Aviagen continually makes investments that result in better service to customers,” says Kevin McDaniel, president, Aviagen North America. “The new hatchery enables us to keep up with the region’s expanding demand for our products, while at the same time promoting the success of our customers by offering them the highest quality of chicks possible.”

The Watertown facility has become Aviagen’s seventh commercial breeding stock hatchery in the U.S.

With a hatching capacity of up to 135,000 high-quality chicks per week (7 million per year), the new hatchery is able to effectively keep up a growing demand in the region. It is equipped with advanced technology equipment such as Jamesway Platinum incubators and hatchers, which are designed for heightened biosecurity and energy efficiency. Sophisticated environmental controls ensure consistently exceptional hatch results and provide the highest level of care available for our eggs and chicks.

The new hatchery boasts a favorable strategic location. Its nearness to Aviagen customer farms translates to minimal transport times, which safeguards the safety, health and welfare of day-old chicks. And, the close proximity to JFK airport in New York makes it a logical location to safely and securely export choice broiler breeding stock.

The new hatchery also contributes to the economy of the Watertown community, by employing 40 local people.
Published in Companies
Jan. 11, 2017 - The National Chicken Council (NCC) is urging consumers, the foodservice industries and non-governmental organizations to invest in studying the impact of the growing market for "slower growing" broiler chickens in the United States (U.S). 

A study released by NCC details the environmental, economic and sustainability implications of raising slower growing chickens, revealing a sharp increase in chicken prices and the use of environmental resources - including water, air, fuel and land.  NCC is also calling for more research on the health impact of chickens' growth rates, to ensure that the future of bird health and welfare is grounded in scientific, data-backed research.   

"The National Chicken Council and its members remain committed to chicken welfare, continuous improvement and respecting consumer choice – including the growing market for a slower growing bird," says Ashley Peterson, NCC senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs. "However, these improvements must be dictated by science and data – not activists' emotional rhetoric – which is why we support further research on the topic of chicken welfare and growth rates."

Environmental implications

In assessing a transition to a slower growing breed, the environmental impact is an important component often left out of the equation.  If only one-third of broiler chicken producers switched to a slower growing breed, nearly 1.5 billion more birds would be needed annually to produce the same amount of meat currently produced – requiring a tremendous increase in water, land and fuel consumption: 
  • Additional feed needed: Enough to fill 670,000 additional tractor trailers on the road per year, using millions more gallons of fuel annually.
  • Additional land needed: The additional land needed to grow the feed (corn and soybeans) would be 7.6 million acres/year, or roughly the size of the entire state of Maryland.
  • Additional manure output: Slower growing chickens will also stay on the farm longer, producing 28.5 billion additional pounds of manure annually.  That's enough litter to create a pile on a football field that is 27 times higher than a typical NFL stadium.
  • Additional water needed: 5.1 billion additional gallons of water per year for the chickens to drink (excluding additional irrigation water that would be required to grow the additional feed).
Economic implications

If the industry did not produce the additional 1.5 billion birds to meet current demand, the supply of chicken would significantly reduce to 27.5 billion less chicken meals per year.

The additional cost of even 1/3 of the industry switching to slower growing birds would be $9 billion, which could have a notable financial impact on foodservice companies, retailers, restaurants and ultimately – consumers.  This will put a considerable percentage of the population at risk and increase food instability for those who can least afford to have changes in food prices.

A reduction in the U.S. chicken supply would also result in a decreased supply to export internationally where U.S. chicken is an important protein for families in Mexico, Cuba, Africa and 100 other countries.

NCC's commitment to welfare and consumer choice

"Slower growing," as defined by the Global Animal Partnership, is equal to or less than 50 grams of weight gained per chicken per day averaged over the growth cycle, compared to current industry average for all birds of approximately 61 grams per day. This means that in order to reach the same market weight, the birds would need to stay on the farm significantly longer.

For decades, the chicken industry has evolved its products to meet ever-changing consumer preferences.  Adapting and offering consumers more choices of what they want to eat has been the main catalyst of success for chicken producers.

"We are the first ones to know that success should not come at the expense of the health and wellbeing of the birds," said Peterson.  "Without healthy chickens, our members would not be in business."

All current measurable data – livability, disease, condemnation, digestive and leg health – reflect that the national broiler flock is as healthy as it has ever been.

"We don't know if raising chickens slower than they are today would advance our progress on health and welfare - which is why NCC has expressed its support to the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association for research funding in this area," says Peterson. "What we do know is there are tradeoffs and that it is important to take into consideration chicken welfare, sustainability, and providing safe, affordable food for consumers.  There may not be any measurable welfare benefits to the birds, despite these negative consequences.  Research will help us identify if there are additional, unforeseen consequences of raising birds for longer."

NCC in 2017 will also be updating its Broiler Welfare Guidelines, last updated in 2014, and having the guidelines certified by an independent third party.  The guidelines will be updated with assistance from an academic advisory panel consisting of poultry welfare experts and veterinarians from across the United States.

"NCC will continue to be in the business of providing and respecting consumer choice in the marketplace," Peterson concludes.  "Whether it is traditionally raised chicken, slower growing breeds, raised without antibiotics or organic, consumers have the ability to choose products that take into account many factors, including taste preference, personal values and affordability."

For additional information and resources about how chickens are raised, visit www.chickencheck.in

Study methodology

The study was conducted August-September, 2016 by Elanco Animal Health, in consultation with Express Markets, Inc., using a simulation model that estimates the impact of slow-growing broilers on feed, land, water utilization, waste/manure generated, and production cost.  The model used average values of conventional vs. slow-grow broiler for mortality, grow-out days, feed conversion, days downtime, and placement density.  A full copy of the study is available here.
Published in Production
Page 1 of 9

Subscription Centre

 
New Subscription
 
Already a Subscriber
 
Customer Service
 
View Digital Magazine Renew

Most Popular