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XIII WPC Report: Genetics of the Modern Poultry Industry

by 5m Editor
2 July 2008, at 2:20pm

AUSTRALIA - Genetic progress is the main reason that there has been such a spectacular improvements in the performance of both meat and laying birds over the last four decades, writes ThePoultrySite editor, Jackie Linden.

This was the message from Dr Jim McKay of EW Group, who gave a presentation on the breeding companies and their role in the 'Poultry Success Story'.

Progress would not have been possible without improvements in disease control, he said.

Future improvements in genetics will require greater emphasis on an ethical framework.

Among the greatest improvements to animal welfare brought by genetics is the exclusion of certain pathogens including mycoplasma and avian leucosis, and in recent years, robustness has become an evermore important criterion for selection.

Beyond the Horizon

In a typically up-beat presentation, president of Alltech, Dr Pearse Lyons, challenged the audience to think 'outside the box' to find solutions to solve the many problems in today's economic climate.

He contended that the prices of maize, soy and other conventional feedstuffs - as well as fossil fuels - will continue to rise as the result of a range of factors including the latest floods that have devastated this year's corn crop.

Solutions lie in radical new ideas, he said.

He cited the use of enzymes to improve the digestibility of new feed ingredients such as distillers dried grains, fungi to break down indigestible materials and the production of nutrients from algae as possible solutions to today's problems.

Dr Lyons also emphasised the urgent need to encourage today's young people to enjoy and study science in order to provide more solutions in future.

Poultry in the 21st Century

Dr Anni McLeod of the Food and Agriculture Organisation closed the session on Tuesday with a presentation on the prospects for the future production of poultry in developing countries.

She explained the three main purposes of poultry production in these areas.

The first she termed "safety-net poultry" in which a small group of birds is kept by a family to be eaten, sold or bartered. A second type of farming is for the purpose of asset-building; a small or medium-sized flock is reared with the main purpose to raise the family out of poverty by selling the products.

The third type is a medium or large farm keeping birds under 'industrialised' conditions.

In answer to her own question 'Will there be poultry smallholders in 2030?', Dr McLeod said that the 'safety-net' type of farming is likely to continue in rural areas although its future in cities is less secure.

At the other end of the scale, industrial flocks will also b present but the future of the 'asset-building' flocks depends on whether they meet market needs and are run using a successful business model combined with entrepreneurial talent.