Cargill looks at impact of hen nutrition on chick vitality

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

Cargill looks at impact of hen nutrition on chick vitality

Related tags: Nutrition

A new broiler breeder facility at Cargill’s recently expanded animal nutrition innovation center in the Netherlands is said to allow scientists investigate the impact of the hen's diet on the performance of its offspring. 

Dave Cook, R&D director at Cargill's animal nutrition business, told FeedNavigator embryonic nutrition is a new avenue of research for the agribusiness giant. 

“In-ovo allows us to do rapid screening of nutrients that might affect chick vitality at hatch as well as post hatch growth and efficiency of that growth,”​ he said.

Embryonic Nutrition

Dr Zehava Uni, professor of animal sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has long been exploring the benefits of nutritional supplementation at the embryonic stage in broilers.

Speaking to this publication at EuroTier late last year, she said her team’s research has shown that during the last days of incubation, the levels of phosphorus, iron, zinc and copper in the yolk are low.

“These minerals are consumed from the yolk and leave the embryo at day 17 with no external source of minerals for about six days.

This may impair the embryonic and hatchling development, which may lead to leg and skeletal problems and an immature immune system in rapid growing strains​,” she said.

Dr Uni said her findings show such health challenges can be prevented by supplementing the nutrients to the breeder hen diet or by means of in-ovo feeding - insertion of a nutrient solution into the embryonic amniotic fluid - at day 17 of incubation.

She also said nutrient rich post hatch feeding strategies are critical, with no delay to first feed.

Dairy and swine focus

Cargill said the $3.7 million backed expansion and renovation of its Velddriel research hub means it now has new EU regulation compliant broiler grow-out and broiler breeder facilities.

The Dutch facility is designed to promote collaboration among Cargill experts as well as those from local research institutions to accelerate innovation. “We work closely with Wageningen and Utrecht universities as well as other Netherlands-based research entities,”​ said Cook.

However, the revamped center also serves the dairy and swine sectors.

Cook said the R & D team at Velddriel is also looking at “the effect of microbial communities on intestinal health and young animal productivity, means to enhance piglet livability and new approaches to enhancing neonatal pig performance.”​  

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