Got a Challenge? We’ll Find a Sustainable Solution
There’s no question challenges are part of farming – disease, lameness and poor gut health - just to name a few. Animal health seems to constantly be thrown out of balance, which can spark new health challenges in the flock or herd. As an industry partner, Novus wants to help solve our customers' challenges but do it sustainably in order to produce safe, affordable food with the least possible insult to the environment.
At Novus’s Green Acres Farm research facility based in central Missouri, industry challenges drive our research. When customers experience challenges in their herd or flock, trials are conducted, looking at multiple ways to find sustainable solutions. Trial results are then provided to customers, which may offer a solution or a stepping stone for a larger scale on-farm study to be conducted.
“Sometimes solutions are easily found or discovered, while evolving industry issues usually require ongoing research,” said Chelsie Foran, Research Manager at Green Acres Farm. “We conduct research trials with cattle, swine, poultry and sheep, but what animals we have fluctuates based on research needs. Our goal is often to recreate a customer challenge and find a way to overcome it.”
Seeking Solutions at Green Acres Farm
Footpad lesions in broilers have been a topic of study. Broiler feed choice can make the feces very wet which in turn creates wet litter. Those conditions can cause lesions on chickens’ feet. Considered a delicacy in China, the US market depends on this “by-product” to drive margin, and chicken feet need to remain strong and intact or else they lose value.
“We ran several studies to test feed additives Novus offers that could help limit wet feces,” Foran said. “Knowing we needed to work with litter and feed materials locally available, we tested affordable options that would not only prevent lesions but also heal any lesions that did form.”
Currently, a study is running to explore the cause and ways to prevent woody breast and white striping in chicken breasts. Both issues are growing industry concerns due to the consumer and economic implications they present. Foran said they are studying both production and processing options to lessen the incidence of these challenges.
Coccidiosis and necrotic enteritis are diseases that challenge the industry globally, and many studies have been conducted to develop sustainable solutions. Once the diseases are induced on the research farm, diagnostic blood samples are taken and analyzed to identify disease markers in the blood. Lesions from the intestines are studied to better understand the cause and cycle of the disease and ways to strengthen the gut lining and heal the lesions.
In swine, growing evidence in the industry suggested that trace mineral requirements in pigs are not consistently met, and a mineral-deficient diet can result in reduced weight gain and a more immune-challenged piglet. “We have investigated the impact of organic trace minerals on building pig immunity as a way to maximize pig health and growth,” said Foran.
Ruminant studies are focused on exploring ways to decrease the incidence of lameness and improving growth and nutrient availability while decreasing input costs.
“One study we have running is looking at the effects of maternal nutrition during gestation on the fetus at birth as well as longer-term effects,” said Foran. “The study is being used as a model for cattle, but we’re starting it in sheep due to their shorter cycle and gestation.”
Animal Wellness Is SOP
“Animal wellness is a vital part of our research program, and we have a catalog of standard operating procedures (SOPs) that guide how we handle our animals,” Foran said. “Whether it's a simple weigh-in day or very specific feeding guidelines or lighting regime, it’s all written in the SOPs. If something new comes up, like woody breast and white striping that appeared a few years ago, a new SOP is created for how to score it.”
Since there are very few jobs done by one person, new researchers on the farm also receive hands-on training by the onsite team to help learn the SOPs and animal care practices.
Animal care and study procedures remain consistent regardless of who is performing the task. Each study has a coordinator who is responsible for daily observation of the animals. Twice a day - first thing in the morning and right before leaving for the day – the study coordinator looks at every single animal in their study.
“They make sure their animals look healthy; they have easy access to feed and water and that everything is in working order,” Foran said. “That information is documented on the daily observation sheet, including if an animal does not look well and should be monitored. We have weekend workers who follow the same process and careful communication is involved among the team.”
The Novus Animal Ethics Committee meets twice a year to review the research farm’s SOPs and any new additions. The committee also does a walk-through of the facility to see the animals in their environment with feed and water and how the team is handling the animals day-to-day. Additionally, a local veterinarian visits monthly for a walk-through of the entire facility, looking specifically at animal health. If the team has concerns, she’s available to answer them.
“Our goal as a business is to improve efficiency for producers around the world, so we can feed the ever-growing population,” she said. “At the Novus research farm, we strive to find solutions to industry challenges and that starts with healthy, well-cared for animals.”
Benefits of MINTREX®!
Novus Is With You When It Matters!
Novus was excited to be a part of the inaugural annual joint
meeting with ASAS and CSAS in Baltimore, Maryland! Our technical and marketing
teams joined the many students, faculty and industry members in attendance to
discuss industry concerns and recent research. Novus is looking forward to what
this meeting will continue to offer to those of us in the industry and will see
you next year in Vancouver, Canada!
The latest certificates showing that MINTREX® is OMRI approved in the US and Canada are available. Please contact your local Novus sales representative or Customer Service to obtain a copy.