Dr. Emily Burton outside the new poultry research unit at Nottingham Trent University Nottingham Trent University
Dr. Emily Burton outside the new poultry research unit at Nottingham Trent University

New poultry research unit opens at Nottingham Trent University

New research unit has strong links to U.K. animal feed industry.

A new world-class poultry research unit — one of just a handful of its kind in Europe — has opened at Nottingham Trent University in the U.K.

The purpose-built, single-story unit at the university’s Brackenhurst campus focuses on improving the nutrition, welfare and sustainability of poultry production. It comprises two pen rooms with biological sampling rooms and a bespoke laboratory, a feed manufacture room, feed storage areas and office space.

The unit, part of the university’s School of Animal, Rural & Environmental Sciences, focuses on tackling poultry industry research needs by using feed and nutrition as a tool to improve welfare and to increase environmental and economic sustainability of poultry production.

It replaces the current, much smaller poultry research unit — housed in a Victorian farmyard — which will be redeveloped as part of the ongoing regeneration of the campus.

The research unit has very strong links to the U.K. animal feed industry and benefits local businesses, multinational companies and students. The new unit has an increased feed manufacturing capability and houses specialist equipment capable of using the latest techniques and smallest possible sample sizes for nutritional analyses.

The project is part of the university’s multimillion-pound redevelopment of the Brackenhurst campus that was revealed last year. Ambitious plans as part of the five-year redevelopment include a main reception and state-of-the-art environment center, the redevelopment of equine, canine and animal facilities and additional student accommodations.

“We provide a vital platform for both industry technologists and scientists to explore the interplay between nutrition, welfare and sustainability of poultry production,” said Dr. Emily Burton, head of the poultry research unit at Nottingham Trent University. “This important new facility, with its increased capacity, will allow us to enhance our research event further, for the benefit of global industry impact. We will be able to undertake more collaborations, such as with developing countries where our research could allow families to improve their efficiency of poultry rearing.”

Previous research at the unit has identified how "superdosing" poultry diets with the phytase enzyme could result in huge savings to the poultry industry. Other work found that chickens could be the unexpected beneficiaries of the growing biofuel industry by feeding on proteins retrieved from the fermenters used to brew bio-ethanol.

More recently, the team found that specially bred wheat could help provide some of the key nutrients essential for healthy bones in poultry, therefore reducing the need to supplement the feed.

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