We are on the cusp of a new decade and we were interested to hear what others thought would be the major challenges for animal production in the 2020s. Feeding for adaptive capacity could be one way to support resilience in birds that is needed to cope with some of these challenges.
Agriculture is a highly volatile industry in itself and on top of that is facing sweeping changes in climate, demographics, technology, regulations and business environment like any other industry of this era. Everything is already moving at a rapid pace and things are likely to only get faster over the coming new decade. One of the big questions for the 2020s certainly will be how poultry producers can keep up and adapt to the rapid pace of change in all those areas.
Here are some of the thoughts on 2020s challenges for the poultry industry in respective countries from delegates at a recent international animal production conference in Vienna:
“Meeting the demand for antibiotic-free production, which is driven by consumer demand, not legal action” Animal Feed Producer, USA
“It is important to find ways to deal with the increasing complexity in poultry production systems and to gain a better understanding of resilience.”, Antibiotic-free egg and broiler producer, Brazil
“Reducing the amount of manure production and use of coccidiostats”, Nutritionist, Poland
Listen to more thoughts on this from peers in the first Episode of the Keep Agile Keep Farming Podcast.
Current challenges expected to increase in the 2020s
- At this year’s IPPE conference in Atlanta some of the discussions highlighted the lack of qualified labour in poultry production. Coupled with the fact that it is an aging industry and many will retire within the next decade, labour shortages could become an even bigger problem over the next decade.
- More and more egg producers are facing the challenge to facilitate longer laying periods in laying hens to become more economical and meet environmental standards.
- Predictions for further increases in temperatures in many parts of the world due to climate change, are calling for effective ways to reduce the impact of heat stress on birds or breed for climate resilient birds to maintain production efficiency and reduce mortality in birds.
Nutritional management strategy: Feeding for adaptive capacity
Novel feeding strategies designed to support the adaptability of birds to cope with stressors naturally could be a way of supporting resilience in broilers and laying hens.
Improved resilience means, that the impact of stressors, such as heat, change of diets, flocking density on animal performance and wellbeing will be lower. This will also mean reduced fluctuations in performance and that animals are generally easier to manage.
On the one hand this could reduce the requirement of labour input and on the other hand also facilitate the reduction in use of antibiotic growth promotors.
On the cellular level the animal’s exposure to stressors will increase the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can lead to oxidative stress. It can also lead to an increase in inflammatory responses all of which will come at a price of reduced energy available for growth or egg production. It can also cause damage and increased susceptibility to disease and metabolic disorders in vital organs for production, such as the liver, gut and ovaries.
Thus, finding ways to reduce those stress reactions in birds by nutritional means could help to enable longer profitable production cycles in laying hens. Many egg producers are currently aiming to increase laying periods in laying hens not only for economic reasons but also to fulfill environmental standards. An increase of 10 weeks in egg production could mean that 1g of nitrogen could be saved per dozen eggs. This can significantly reduce the nitrification impact of egg farms, which is especially important in nitrate sensitive areas. On top of that longer laying cycles lead to a lower carbon footprint per egg.
Nutritional solution – gut agility activator
Anco Animal Nutrition Competence developed the first gut agility activator on the market for poultry production. The botanical adaption formula in Anco FIT Poultry was specifically developed to support the bird’s adaptive capacity to stressors. The product has been proven to improve the resilience of broilers in the face of stressors such as heat and mycotoxins and improve laying persistency in layers in the late laying period under commercial conditions.