Poultry producers told three-legged stool of management, health and nutrition is vital
Industry trends such as the shift away from using antimicrobials or pressure to improve the environmental footprint of production likely will require greater integration by producers and a more complex understanding of the production process, it says.
Shawn Fairbairn, lead nutritionist with the Alberta-based company, said that though a feed formulation can be a primary consideration for a nutritionist, there are also aspects of management or barn design that should be considered for bird production.
“We see nutrition as complimentary,” he told FeedNavigator. “It’s part of the three-legged stool – management, health and nutrition.”
Poultry Partners works with feed mills along with producers, processors and hatcheries, he said.
The company was formed through the combination of a veterinary clinic, Poultry Health Services, and a premix manufacturer, Nutrition Partners. Members of the two initial businesses found that they shared several challenges and identified that the industry was working in isolation in some areas, he said.
“Non-GMO Project Verified chicken - we’ve been involved in getting that done – learning their programs, writing the procedures, being there for the audits, dealing with the paperwork ensuring the compliance that’s that level of responsibility,” he said. “We’ve learned about GAP standards and organic production and non-GMO.”
The nutrition and health company looks to bring together multiple parts of bird production for an industry that is not highly integrated, said Fairbairn.
“There was a lack of communication and lack of transparency between the different links in the chain – they wanted a group who could help float between the chains,” he said. “That’s what we did – that’s been our mandate.”
“We do a lot of the regular stuff that other companies do,” he said. “We optimize leg strength and reduce contaminations – from a nutritional standpoint we don’t do anything unique, but it’s understanding the other stresses on the farm that feeds back and drives the nutrition program.”
The company’s evaluation of one chicken farmer's system indicated the need for management changes to reduce the stress on the birds, he said. Those alterations led to the producer to use less expensive feed:
“All that was, was freeing up the roadblocks for the birds to grow better,” he said. “The producer was able to see better feed conversion, and weight gain and lower costs.”
Some common challenges behind a reduction in feed efficiency or weight gain include the facility temperature, waterline sanitation and mycotoxin presence in feed.
Early chilling of the birds can cause issues, he said.
“It’s more of a factor of not having high enough brooding temperature in the winter. You can start a barn and the inside humidity is 15-20% if you’re relying on temperature, but the extra 15-20% lower humidity lowers the ‘feel like’ temperature for the bird until the natural humidity in the barn builds, and what that does is it’s almost like injecting the birds with a disease – it damages the bursa and it effects uniformity, feed conversion and weight gain – but it doesn’t stand out in the crowd.
“It doesn’t give you a large mortality blip,” he added. “You can have reoccurring early chilling and the flock is okay, but it’s not optimal.”