Scientists battling to find alternatives to antibiotics to keep poultry healthy are to have a new state-of-the-art centre in the United States, thanks to a $150 000 donation from multinational conglomerate Cargill. The funding will go into the new 4 200 square foot facility at the University of Arkansas’s farm complex north of the Fayetteville campus, and will be named the Cargill Poultry Research Centre.

The facility will be used by poultry health researchers, flock management specialists and nutritionists within the university’s agriculture division. They will be evaluating products currently available, as well as developing novel and promising probiotics and other products to bring to the market.

Matching funding has come from the US’s largest poultry company, Tyson Foods. Mark Cochran, vice president agriculture for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture said: “At a time when consumers are more interested in the source of their food, it’s increasingly important for the poultry industry to find ways to keep birds healthy in sustainable ways.” In parts of Europe there is a belief that a dramatic reduction in antibiotic use in food production can be achieved via an integrated, multi-stakeholder approach based on feed, farm and health strategies.

Speaking at a recent Asia Pacific poultry conference, Dr. Hartog said: “The starting point of any antibiotic reduction programme is assurance of feed and drinking water quality.” Combining targeted feed and drinking water additives (DWAs) supports gut health and immune modulation. Applying formic, propionic, and lactic organic acids and medium chain fatty acids derived from plant oils reduces bacterial activity and helps balance microbiota.

Beyond feed additives and DWAs, he added that strategically managing dietary nutrients and ingredients, such as increasing poultry diet fibre and modifying feed particle size could help reduce reliance on antibiotics while maintaining animal performance. – Poultry World