Sustainable Solutions for an Evolving Poultry Industry
Antibiotic-free, all-natural, all-veg, non-GMOs, cage-free. Consumer trends are constantly reshaping North American poultry production.
At the 2017 National Chicken Council Marketing Summit, the “raised without” movement was noted as a key industry driver. This movement includes raised without antibiotics, hormones or GMOs plus many other traits or labels used to describe poultry production styles to consumers. These descriptors are then used in the marketing of poultry products as a response to consumer demand. They are also being implemented by food retailers who are requiring poultry and poultry products to be produced in ways that reduce the need for antibiotic use or otherwise meet these new consumer expectations.
White striping and woody breast have become important meat quality concerns for the poultry industry. A significant amount of research around the world is underway looking at nutrition, production and genetics to address the increased prevalence of both issues. The fundamental concern is the poor eating experience that white striping and woody breast pose, and the risk that consumers are less likely to eat these chicken products in the future.
Project Horizon – Helping Meet Consumer Demands
In 2016, Novus launched Project Horizon, an initiative committed to help producers navigate the transition to reduced and antibiotic-free production. Project Horizon is a customer-focused effort to work in partnership with a producer’s on-farm team to manage health and production challenges through nutrition to reduce the likelihood of the need for antibiotics and to optimize performance, health and uniformity in these animals, says Dr. Bob Buresh, Novus Executive Technical Services Manager for North America.
The Project Horizon approach focuses on three main areas:
- Reducing pathogen exposure - Enteric issues like necrotic enteritis are a major health and production concern. Reducing the risk of enteric challenges requires an entire gut health approach as well as considering the feed and environment. The Project Horizon suite of products - CIBENZA® DP100 protease, ACTIVATE® line of organic acids and SPORULIN® probiotic - can help support digestive health and balance and restore a positive gut microflora balance, protecting against the risk of pathogenic bacteria causing diarrhea, morbidity and mortality.
- Improving natural defenses - Animals have natural defenses that kick into action to provide immunity or handle oxidative stress. Through nutrition, it is possible to boost these natural defenses. The MINTREX® chelated trace mineral line helps boost immunity and, along with the antioxidant SANTOQUIN® feed preservative, aids in the animal’s ability to manage oxidative stress that occurs as a result of health challenges or high levels of productivity.
- Impact of feed quality – Feed is often overlooked as a factor impacting health. Oxidized fats and mycotoxins negatively impact the animal’s gut barrier function and fat soluble vitamin status which can, in turn, increase the risk of diarrhea and negatively impact the animal’s ability to mount an appropriate natural defense. SANTOQUIN feed preservative is proven to prolong the shelf life of feeds through increased protection of fats against oxidation and help protect animal performance by boosting fat soluble vitamin status during mycotoxin challenges as well as improving the inherent oxidative balance status for proper immune response.
Meat Quality Solutions
Woody breast is increased when oxidative stress increases associated with rapid growth rate and greater carcass weights. SANTOQUIN has been shown in research trials to reduce the incidence and severity of woody breast conditions. Research also shows that supplementing MINTREX chelated trace minerals contributes to a significant reduction in the occurrence of white striping and woody breast.
Lameness is an important animal welfare issue. An example of a practical lameness concern is paw quality in broilers and turkeys. The paws are exposed to very difficult environments including feces, ammonia and litter moisture, resulting in skin lesions impacting the integrity of the footpads.
While footpad issues are strongly associated with litter quality, it can be difficult to improve litter quality in a production facility. Nutritional adjustments, specifically increasing the available trace mineral supply, may be made to support skin structure and paw integrity. MINTREX chelated trace minerals can make the paws more resistant to typical footpad issues and enhance the recovery of these tissues to earlier damage.
Developing Integrated, Sustainable Solutions
Project Horizon is an example of industry helping industry find solutions to meet consumer demands. Collaboration is key to Project Horizon’s success, but success in meeting production challenges doesn’t happen overnight. Success takes partnership over many months.
Project Horizon doesn’t follow a template, so each customer who chooses to utilize the program will have a completely different set of challenges than another producer, and therefore, a completely different set of solutions. It’s part of the magic and the challenge of Project Horizon. It’s a deep, relationship-building process, but everyone agrees - the sustainable solutions are helping to optimize performance and improve animal health, animal welfare and profitability.