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Poultry advances discussed at Aus conference

The Australian conference Recent Advances in Animal Nutrition (held 12-15 July in Armidale) brought together animal nutrition experts to discuss issues that are of importance to the livestock industry. Mingan Choct from Poultry CRC in Australia presented some new technologies for poultry.

Choct explained that the future of sustainable poultry production lies in producing more from less. “We did already improve a lot”, he said. In 1979 it took farmers 64 days and 8kg of feed to produce a 2kg heavy broiler. Today we reach the 2kg liveweight within 35 days, using only 3kg feed. "This is a huge improvement in terms of efficiency, but considering that we have to improve 100% more animal protein in 2050 to feed the world, we have to find ways to make it even more efficient," according to Choct.

Save male layer chicks

One of the major new advances that Choct explained was the using RNAi (gene techniques) to modulate sex in layer chicks. Every year, 5.8 bln male chicks globally are destroyed because they can simply not be used as layers. By modulating the sex within the egg can save a lot of animals. By injecting RNAi molecules into the eggs at day 4 of incubation it turns off the Dmrt1 gene, which makes sure the embryo develops as a female chick. This technique can also be applied in the broiler industry. “Injection of the egg can turn off the aromatase gene, which turns the embryo into a male chick,” Choct added.

Know the bugs!

Choct also addressed the need for better understanding of the gut microflora of chickens. He explained that 640 different bacteria species are present in the gut but that we only have identified 10% of them. More knowledge of gut microflora will result in better understanding of feed efficiency and hence adjustments and improvements can be made in poultry diets. Also the gizzard need to be looked at more, he said, as this part of the digestion tract has a major role in the productivity of the bird.

Think outside the box

To safeguard a sustainable and more efficient poultry production in Australia and the rest of the world, Choct emphasized the need for: thinking outside the box, worldwide collaborative research efforts and lastly finding (positive) ways to deal with the public perception of the industry.

Related link:

Symposium website (RAAN)

Natalie Berkhout

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