Editor’s Note:  BRI Nutritionist Patrick Biggs recently attended the International Poultry Scientific Forum January 27-28, 2014, and he shares his observations from the conference in this blog post.

The International Poultry Scientific Forum is a two-day conference that precedes the International Poultry and Processing Expo each year in Atlanta. In addition to coordinating with Jason Lee’s Texas A&M team on their presentation of the BRI Xylamax research trial this year, I spent my time listening to the research that was being presented in the metabolism and nutrition sections.  The usual suspects of topics were covered – phytase, distiller’s dried grains, enzymes and probiotics.  The key subject in all of these and the other nutrition topics that were tackled is digestion and absorption of nutrients in the feed and the key key questions focused on how can we as nutritionists, researchers, and poultry growers get as much nutrition into the animal in the most cost-efficient and time efficient way?

This has always been a concern for the industry, and the understanding of how to do this is growing.  People are becoming more concerned about the integrity and health of the animal’s gut.  If the gut isn’t healthy, then it doesn’t matter what you do to that animal, it is not going to grow efficiently.  As the usage of antibiotics as a growth promoter in the U.S. becomes less prevalent due to public opinion and legislation, maintaining a healthy gut will be paramount to the industry.

In the past, companies have focused on individual products to improve gut health.  There are many products available that promote improved gut health. Enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, organic acids, and essential oils are just a few of the products that are being sold into the industry.  The science behind most of these products has been well-defined and is becoming more widely accepted by the industry.  Now the growing trend appears to be combining these products to get an even greater improvement in gut health without having to inventory multiple products.  While there have not been many new category offerings in the feed additives space recently, it does appear that the ones available have been gaining ground and are being tested in various combinations, partly for economic reasons and partly to cope with the challenge of limited bin space for micro-ingredients at the feed mill.  It will be interesting to see what sort of combinations will offer the best returns on investment over the next few years.

About the author