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Nutrient and By-Product Utilization and Health of Turkeys and Broilers

Ferket, Peter
North Carolina State University
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The general objective of this project is to study the effect of nutritional applications on nutrient utilization and health of turkeys and broilers. Specific objectives of this project include: 1) to enhance the early development and nutrigenomic programming of broilers and turkeys by in ovo feeding (the administration of nutrients into the amnion of late-term embryos) and early feeding (from hatch to 10 days of age; 2) to improve nutrient utilization from feeds and feedstuffs by the use of feed additives (i.e. enzymes, fatty acids, enteric conditioners, and other digestive aids) and feed manufacturing technology (i.e. grinding, heat conditioning, pelleting, and post-pellet applications); and 3) to enhance enteric health and pathogen colonization resistance by nutritional manipulation.

These three objectives will be accomplished simultaneously throughout the proposed project period. Although proof of concept for objective 1 has been demonstrated, research on commercial applications of this technology will be done to demonstrate economic value of the improvements in efficiency of nutrient utilization and production efficiency.

Objective 2 will focus mainly on improving the digestibility feeds for poultry, especially among feeds that have a high content of grain and animal by-products as replacements for corn and soybeans.

Because early enteric development and feed digestibility affect the enteric microbial ecosystem resistance to enteric disease, objective 3 will be accomplished concurrently for all studies that address objectives 1 and 2.

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Non-Technical Summary:
Broilers and turkeys selected for rapid and efficient growth are limited by early enteric development, and susceptible to the colonization of enteric pathogens that risk food safety. Consumer demand to limit the use of antibiotic growth promoters forces broiler and turkey producers to develop alternative feed additives that control enteric microflora and enhance growth performance and enteric health. The colonization enteric pathogens (eg salmonella, campylobacter, and clostridia spp) in broilers and turkeys, a significant risk to human health, is dependent upon poultry nutrition and management practices. The objectives of this project is to develop and evaluate various feed formulation and feed manufacturing treatments that will enhance the growth performance and health of turkeys and broilers, and improve their efficiency of nutrient utilization and reduce mineral emissions. This project will also investigate alternatives of pharmaceutical feed additives so as to improve animal welfare and increase consumer confidence in poultry meat products.

A series of experiments will be conducted to satisfy each of the objectives stated above. For objective 1, experiments will be conducted to evaluate various in ovo feeding solution formulations on early development of broilers and turkeys. As described in Uni et al. (2004), the in-ovo feed solutions will be prepared and administered to broiler and turkey embryos during the last quarter of incubation (E17-18 days and E22-24 day of incubation for broilers and turkey, respectively). We will evaluate morphology of enteric and lymphatic tissue, activity and gene expression of brush-border enzymes and nutrient transporters, and expression of genes related to metabolism, hormones, and immune function using gene array molecular biology techniques. In ovo feeding treatments that show the greatest positive response will be further evaluated in growth performance and meat yield trials using floor-pen or battery cage facilities. For objective 2, short-term growth or nutrient balance trials will be conducted in battery cages or small floor pens, and longer-term growth trials to market age at the field research laboratory. The nutrient balance and nutrient utilization (digestibility or bioavailability) trials will require the use of an indigestible dietary marker. The long-term trials to determine dietary treatment effects on growth performance and health characteristics will require 4 to 8 replicate floor pens containing about 15 turkeys or 30 broilers. For objective 3, nutritional regimens or dietary treatments will be tested for their ability to improve gut health and stabilize gut microflora so as to reduce colonization and shedding of food-borne pathogens from poultry. Four different nutritional applications will be evaluated: 1) oligosaccharides and non-starch polysaccharides that are fermented by symbiotic enteric microflora; 2) supplemental enzymes; 3) supplementation dietary compounds (immunoglobulins, prebiotic oligosaccharides, probiotic microorganismas, fatty acids, essential oils, and other "natural" antimicrobial compounds) to promote a symbiotic enteric microbial ecosystem and enhance gut associated lymphatic tissue (gut immunity); and 4) feed form and feed manufacturing processes (particle size, whole grains, heat processing, pelleting, and post-pellet applications). Growth performance characteristics enteric health (subjective enteric lesion scores, brush-boarder morphology or histology) will be evaluated in all studies. Depending on the experimental hypothesis tested in each experiment, the microflora profile of the jejunum, ileum, and ceca will be evaluated by a) indicators of microbial fermentation (VFA, NH4+, etc.), colonization level of pathogens, or phylogenetic profile using one of the molecular biological techniques (PCR and DGGE). All the animal experimentation will be conducted with the approval of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
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Natural Toxins
Viruses and Prions
Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants
Meat, Poultry, Game