At IPPE, we spoke to three Cargill players: Elisangela Guaiume, technology deployment manager, poultry, Maxime Hilbert, global category manager, additives and Henk Enting, poultry technology director.
"Consumers, and [in particular] millennials are paying more and more attention to how the animals they eat have been raised," said Hilbert.
A key focus for the Minnesota-based company, in recent years, has been on finding ways to support farmers move away from the use of antibiotic growth promoters.
The transition from using antibiotic growth promoters (AGP) to an AGP free production system needs to consider multiple elements of production, he said.
“When you remove antibiotics, you cannot just replace them with phytogenics for instance,” he said. “You still have to take into consideration your whole operation and change a little bit what you feed the animals, [and] you have to change a little bit the farm management.”
The company has been examining the microflora of healthy birds and the factors that can influence that, said Enting. “We are getting a better understanding of what a good microflora is,” he added.
Cargill is field testing changes in nutrition and farm management to improve gut microflora with poorly performing flocks, continued Enting.
Quality control of ingredients
“Maybe a few years ago they were looking for that magic bullet, but people are releasing that it comes back to the good management and then quality control of ingredients all the way to farming practices,” said Guaiume. “It is really this attention to detail that I think people are releasing more and more is what is going to make them successful in [terms of] antibiotic free production.”
There is greater understanding of the critical role precision feeding plays, she said. The company is evaluating the longer term influence of diet composition, said Guaiume.
Cargill is also looking at the interaction between poultry breeder diets and chick nutrition and development, said Enting.
The company, through a series of trials, has been examining the impact of reformulation of breeding hen diets on egg production and chick development, he said.
Altering diets of breeder hens, even before they start laying eggs, can influence the number of eggs they lay and the development of chicks that hatch - it may be that nutritional changes are prompting different gene expression, but the mode of action is not fully understood, said Enting.
The company is also working to refine a series of prediction models for farmers looking to change their production systems, said Guaiume.
The models examine feeds, production strategy, costs and offer customized options for altering nutritional inputs or production to improve margins, for example, she said.
Additionally, the company recently launched a program to allow greater control of mycotoxins in feed ingredients.
“We are able to accurately qualify and quantify the mycotoxin risk that our customers are facing at the country scale and the state scale,” said Hilbert. “We can do it for all the major raw materials that we and our customers are using and this makes it really actionable for them.”