Poultry Feeding Challenges in the 21st Century - Janet Snow, Devenish Nutrition, Fairmont, MN USA

14th September 2011

Poultry Feeding Challenges in the 21st Century - Janet Snow, Devenish Nutrition, Fairmont, MN USA

Poultry nutritionists are very adept at understanding the sciences of digestion and metabolism while formulating a complex feeding program to maximize an operationís growth efficiency. Todayís agricultural environment demands more from nutritionist than just knowing the science of the animal.

Poultry feeding is complicated by other factors that must be taken into account. Factors such as securing cost effective ingredients, feed safety, food safety, animal welfare, emerging technologies, consumer perception and ultimately, making a profit. All of these things add numerous constraints on how poultry are fed.

Securing a steady stream of consistent feed ingredients is often a challenge. Managing the nutrition is only one important aspect, the process of how the product is manufactured is also important. For example, dried distillers grains with solubles are a co-product from ethanol production that are commonly used in poultry feeds. However, this product varies in nutrient levels depending on the type of processing and mycotoxin contents must be constantly monitored. In addition, nutritionists are constantly challenged to keep costs in check and pricing ingredients. In todayís economic climate, this is a major obstacle. Feed costs have risen 70% in the past year. Therefore, nutritionists must monitor the markets and know how grains and oilseeds are performing so they can predict future complications with securing low cost ingredients.

Feed and food safety are always in question in agriculture. It is not enough to formulate the perfect feed if it is compromised by a pathogen or the meat is tainted with salmonella. Nutritionists must adhere to quality certifications and assurance methods to make sure their feeds are safe for the animals and the final products marketed. Being aware of the regulations and guidelines of the feed mills and production facilities make a nutritionist better suited to innovate.

Managing consumer perception and animal welfare are of the utmost importance in the poultry industry. Investigations and lawsuits plague the animal industries and cost operations huge amounts of money. It is a challenge to manage this, but every time a flock is inspected, it is the nutritionistís responsibility as the consultant to observe every detail of the operation-good and bad and report to the managers. Ignoring problems and potential violations will only hurt the operation.

Adversity breeds innovation therefore, nutritionists should be searching for the newest technology to make production more efficient and to reduce costs. In the current economics, the industry has tried many new worthy enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics and gut health products to address consumer concerns or to create an inexpensive feed. This is key to the poultry industry surviving in and making a profit. Profit margins are decreasing or non-existent. When it costs more to create the end product than the company gets to sell it for the company will make drastic changes soon or be bankrupt. The only way around this is to create value by innovating or creation.

Nutritionists are excellent problem solvers who are educated and creative enough to make significant changes in the poultry industry. They are at the forefront position to be consultants and partners in the challenges of the poultry business. It is easy to formulate diets, but harder to get fully integrated in the daily operations, but it is the key to sustaining our poultry industry.

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