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Articles from 2013 In March

Fuel sectors battle over RINs

Fuel sectors battle over RINs

THE war of rhetoric between the renewable fuel industry and the petroleum industry has intensified, with one side trumpeting an ethanol-critical Wall Street Journal editorial and the other calling for a multi-agency investigation into the oil sector's "highly discriminatory and unlawful conduct."

Starting with a March 11 report from the Wall Street Journal claiming that renewable identification numbers (RINs) are partly to blame for the rising cost of gasoline at the pump, the two sides got locked in a heated public relations battle.

RINs, essentially a credit issued to blenders for every gallon of ethanol included in the nation's fuel supply, have skyrocketed in value in recent weeks as refiners bought more and more credits to meet volumetric requirements under the renewable fuel standard.

A report from Bloomberg News claimed that drivers could face a $13 billion increase in the cost of gasoline this year because of the higher cost of RINs.

Renewable fuel advocates, meanwhile, said the math behind those startling claims simply doesn't add up (sidebar).

"RIN prices are not the cause of high gas prices," Growth Energy chief executive officer Tom Buis said. "What's driving the recent record highs are the record profit margins the oil industry is profiting off of, currently at more than $1/gal. This is because the oil companies have a near monopoly on the marketplace."

Buis said there is no shortage of RINs for 2013, and blaming ethanol for higher gasoline prices is "blatantly false." Instead, he said oil companies continue to prevent non-petroleum alternatives from entering the marketplace, namely by obstructing adoption of E15, a 15% ethanol fuel blend.

"The reason we're even having this discussion on rising RIN prices is because the oil companies are flat-out unwilling to blend ethanol and, instead, are willing to pay a premium specifically not to do their job under the law: blend renewable fuels," he said. "They are fighting to maintain the blend wall and are willing to let RIN prices increase as they continue to erect every hurdle possible to maintain the blend wall and their monopoly in the liquid fuels market."

In response to the Journal editorial, the Advanced Ethanol Council put a finer point on the situation, explaining that a RIN is produced when a gallon of renewable fuel is produced. That credit can then be sold on the open market separately from the gallon of fuel that created it.

"In essence, the oil companies are buying and selling RINs to themselves and then complaining about it to the Wall Street Journal," the council claimed, pointing out that ethanol is currently priced 65 cents/gal. cheaper than gasoline. Blenders are voluntarily bidding up the price of RINs, the group claimed, to avoid adding more ethanol to the fuel supply beyond the so-called blend wall.

The Renewable Fuels Assn. (RFA) took the war of words to federal regulators, requesting a multi-agency investigation into oil industry conduct that RFA claims is impeding the delivery of renewable fuels to the marketplace.

In a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Trade Commission and the departments of energy and agriculture, RFA accused the oil industry of violating multiple federal statutes and regulations in coercing or constraining retail fuel marketers from selling higher-percentage blends of ethanol.

Recounting the story of ConocoPhillips franchisee Zarco 66 in Lawrence, Kan., RFA claimed that after the station announced that it would be the first in the country to offer E15, the franchisor "quickly threatened to terminate the franchise agreement and charge Zarco 66 hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties."

RFA said while the station had blended E85 for years using a blender pump obtained through a U.S. Department of Energy grant without protest from the oil company, following the E15 move, ConocoPhillips demanded that the station sell premium gasoline as a precursor for selling regular unleaded -- something RFA said violates U.S. antitrust law.

"Here, the oil industry is forcing fuel stations to purchase and carry a product that they otherwise do not wish to carry (premium gasoline) as a condition for purchasing and carrying the tying product (regular gasoline)," RFA explained. "Because franchisees are locked into franchise agreements, an oil franchisor holds appreciable economic power over the franchisee, which it is using to force franchisees to purchase premium fuel that they might not otherwise carry."

Because premium gasoline requires a separate tank, station owners face a stark choice: either install an additional tank at considerable expense, or use existing tank space to sell premium gasoline instead of ethanol.

With gasoline prices nearing $4/gal. and the busy summer driving season still months away, the war of words between the nation's two fuel industries is unlikely to die down soon.

Volume:85 Issue:12

Vaccine advances FMD control

Vaccine advances FMD control

Vaccine advances FMD control
RESEARCHERS in the U.K. have developed a new methodology to produce a vaccine for foot and mouth disease virus (FMDv), according to an announcement from the U.K.'s Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Because the vaccine is all synthetic, made up of tiny protein shells designed to trigger optimum immune response, it doesn't rely on growing a live infectious virus and is, therefore, safer to produce, the announcement said.

Furthermore, these empty shells have been engineered to be more stable, making the vaccine much easier to store and reducing the need for a cold chain. BBSRC said this is important because it represents "a big step forward in the global campaign" to control FMDv in countries where the disease is endemic and could significantly reduce the threat to countries currently free of the disease.

This new approach to making and stabilizing the vaccine could also affect how viruses from the same family -- including polio -- are fought, BBSRC said.

This collaborative research was led by professor David Stuart at Diamond Light Source and the University of Oxford and Dr. Bryan Charleston at The Pirbright Institute.

Charleston, whose team at Pirbright has developed a detailed understanding of the immune response to FMDv in cattle and is leading the vaccination trials, said, "The FMDv epidemic in the U.K. in 2001 was disastrous and cost the economy billions of pounds in control measures and compensation. As a result of the outbreak, the Royal Society recommended that new approaches should be developed to control the virus should it happen again.

"Using our knowledge of the immune responses to FMDv in cattle, we were able to define the characteristics that needed to be incorporated into the new vaccine platform to induce protection," he added.

Stuart explained, "What we have achieved here is close to the holy grail of (FMDv) vaccines. Unlike the traditional vaccines, there is no chance that the empty shell vaccine could revert to an infectious form. This work will have a broad and enduring impact on vaccine development, and the technology should be transferable to other viruses from the same family, such as poliovirus and hand, foot and mouth disease, a human virus which is currently endemic in Southeast Asia."

Key results were published March 27 in the journal PLOS Pathogens. The work is principally funded by the U.K. Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Wellcome Trust.

Clinical trials using the synthetic shell-based vaccine on cattle have shown that it is as effective as current vaccines, BBSRC said. While a commercial product is still several years away, the team hopes that the technology can be transferred as quickly as possible to make it available to a global market.

Stuart explained that the researchers "synthetically created empty protein shells to imitate the protein coat that forms the strong outer layer of the virus. By using Diamond's visualization capabilities and the expertise of Oxford University in structural analysis and computer simulation, we were able to visualize something 1 billion times smaller than a pinhead and further enhance the design, atom by atom, of the empty shells."

Pre-clinical trials have shown the new vaccine to be stable at temperatures of up to 56 degrees C for at least two hours.

FMD is endemic in central Africa and some parts of the Middle East and Asia (Map), so this is a major advantage over the traditional vaccine, which has to be produced and stored in a chilled and stable environment.

"The ability to produce a vaccine outside of high containment and that does not require a cold storage chain should greatly increase production capacity and reduce costs. Globally, there is an undersupply of the vaccine due to the high cost of production, and this new development could solve this problem and significantly control FMD worldwide," Charleston said.

"Furthermore, the complete absence of some viral proteins from this new vaccine will also allow companion diagnostic tests to be further refined to demonstrate the absence of infection in vaccinated animals with greater confidence," he added.

Volume:85 Issue:13

Reports highlight value of ag

Reports highlight value of ag

Reports highlight value of ag
IN recent weeks, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service (ERS) has issued three reports that highlight the value of modern agriculture and food production.

In one report, ERS noted that agriculture accounts for just 8% of carbon emissions, the least of all economic sectors outside of U.S. territories (Figure 1).

ERS also said agriculture has "the unique capacity" to sequester carbon emissions, especially carbon dioxide, from the atmosphere and store it in biomass and soil sinks through activities such as no-till cropping and creating grasslands. Agriculture sequestered 4% of carbon emissions in 2010, ERS said.

Family farms. Contrary to popular thought, almost all farms in the U.S. -- 97.3% -- are family farms owned by the farm operator and individuals related to the operator, with the remaining farms being non-family owned (Figure 2), ERS reported.

ERS also said most family farms are small farms -- measured by sales of less than $250,000 for small farms and more than $250,000 for larger farms -- and account for just 15.1% of agricultural production, while large family farms account for 70.2% of production.

Small family farms house disproportionately more farm assets, reflecting "overinvestment" of assets, especially in buildings and land that are often not used for production, ERS said. This also reflects the ability of large farms to capture economies of scale to produce more crops, food and livestock with fewer assets, ERS said.

Plant workers. U.S. food and beverage plants employ 1.5 million people -- about 15% of all manufacturing workers and just over 1% of all non-farm workers, ERS reported.

ERS said these 1.5 million workers are employed in 30,000 food plants across the U.S. and are engaged in transforming raw agricultural products into foods or beverages for human consumption or into ingredients for other products, such as syrup for soft drinks.

Meat and poultry plants employ 32% of these workers, making meat and poultry processors the largest employers of food and beverage workers (Figure 3), ERS said. Bakeries are number two, and fruit and vegetable processors are number three.

This information supports the role agriculture plays in sustainability, efficient food production and employment, ERS said. More information on modern agriculture and food production is available at www.FeedstuffsFoodLink.com.

Volume:85 Issue:13

Livestock & poultry cash market comparisons, 4/1/13

Livestock & poultry cash market comparisons, 4/1/13

Livestock and meat ($)

March 27

March 20

6 months ago

Year ago

Steers, Choice, carcass, 550-700 lb., cwt., Omaha





Steers, Choice, 1,050-1,200 lb., cwt. Okla/Texas





Feeder Steers, 600-700 lb., cwt., Oklahoma City





Lean Hogs, Carcass, Iowa-Minn. 167-187 lb.*





Feeder Pigs, 40 lb. National Direct Delivered**1





SEW Pigs, 10 lb., National direct delivered**





Choice Beef, cutout, cwt.





Pork Loin, 185 lb. 51-52% lean, cutout, cwt.





Hog Corn Ratio





Steer Corn Ratio





Poultry and eggs (cents)





Chickens, Grade A, Fresh lb. Chicago





Hen Turkeys, Grade A, Frozen, lb., Chicago





Young Tom Turkeys, Grade A. Frozen lb. Chicago





Eggs, Grade A, Large, doz., Chicago





N/A: not available

A: average




*Replaces live hogs; live hogs are 0.74 of quote.
**Price quoted is per head.
**1Replaces Sioux Falls, 50-60 lbs.  2/26/07
Livestock, meat, poultry and egg prices from USDA.


Volume:85 Issue:13

Grain & ingredient cash market comparisons, 4/1/13

Grain & ingredient cash market comparisons, 4/1/13

Major feed ingredients

March 27

March 20

6 months ago

Year ago

Corn No. 2, Chicago, bu.





Processor bid*





Terminal bid*





Milo, Kansas City, cwt.





Soybeans, Chicago, bu., processor bid





Soybean Meal, 48% Decatur Bid





Cottonseed Meal, Memphis, ton





Linseed Meal, Solvent, Minneapolis





Meat and Bone Meal, Chicago, ton





Fish Meal, Menhaden, Atlanta, ton





Corn Gluten Meal, 60%, Chicago, ton





Distillers Dried Grains, Chicago, ton





17% Dehy. Alfalfa Pellets, KC, ton





Millfeeds, Midds, Minneapolis, ton





Molasses, Cane, Houston, ton





Dried Citrus Pulp, Atlanta, ton





Whey, Whole, Chicago, cwt.





Rolled Oats, Minneapolis, ton





Barley, Los Angeles , cwt.





Feeding Wheat, Kansas City, bu.





* Chicago corn and soybean prices for latest and previous week are the middle of the range of to-arrive bids; soybean meal prices are midrange of processor quotes. Chicago corn and soybean prices provided by USDA Market News. Six months, year ago comparisons are all spot cash. Based on prices reported by Feedstuffs' market reporters.

A: average

N/A: not available


Volume:85 Issue:13

Can probiotics help in coccidiosis control?

Can probiotics help in coccidiosis control?

*Dr. Wael Abdelrahman is a technical consultant with Biomin Holding GmbH.

COCCIDIA infection (coccidiosis) is a significant endemic disease in poultry that has a considerable economic impact on producer profitability.

The disease is caused by ingestion of the infective oocysts of various species of the protozoan parasite of the genus Eimeria. The annual financial loss to the poultry industry as a result of coccidiosis worldwide has been estimated at around $3 billion due mainly to prophylactic or therapeutic in-feed medications and also as a result of the disease's impact on poultry health (Williams, 1999).

Eimeria species multiply in the bird's intestinal tract, causing considerable tissue damage and, subsequently, impaired nutrient absorption and blood loss. In addition, it can cause diarrhea, dehydration, mortality, a transient drop in egg production in laying flocks and increased susceptibility to other diseases such as necrotic enteritis.

The severity of the infection depends on the number of ingested oocysts and the immune status of the birds; however, the disease is self-limiting.

Chickens are the natural host of seven species of eimeria, with Eimeria tenella, Eimeria maxima and Eimeria acervulina being the most common species. All ages and breeds are susceptible to infection, but outbreaks of coccidiosis usually take place between three and six weeks of age.

Mild infections stimulate the birds' immune system and limit any further infection with the same species because there is no cross-protection between different species of eimeria.

The ubiquitous nature of coccidia makes quarantine or disinfection strategies for successful disease control impossible.



Control of coccidia has been greatly dependent on the use of chemotherapeutic agents. The use of these compounds to control coccidiosis has proved to be successful in many parts of the world due to their ease of use and the ability to provide uniform treatment and prevention.

Nevertheless, these drugs, on some occasions, can be toxic to the birds and also have to be rotated from time to time to minimize the possibility for eimeria species to develop resistance to them.

More recently, the poultry industry has been under pressure to reduce reliance on antimicrobials, including anticoccidial drugs, despite the global acceptance and success of these drugs.

The pressure comes primarily from the high costs of these antimicrobials, which contribute to the cost of disease control, besides public health concerns and demands for drug residue-free products.

Moreover, the development of resistance or decreased sensitivity of eimeria species to chemotherapeutic agents has been reported for several years now from different parts of the world, and this resistance has caused significant reductions in drug effectiveness. Although some coccidia develop less resistance to some drugs, long-term exposure eventually leads to a loss of sensitivity and development of resistance to the drug.

The main strategy to reduce the development of such resistance is to use less-intensive shuttle and rotation programs.

Coccidia vaccines have achieved relative success in controlling the disease, especially in broiler breeders; however, they have not yet achieved satisfactory levels, particularly in broilers as their use is limited by the possibility of adverse effects on feed efficiency and high production costs, especially when these vaccines include more than one eimeria species.

Yet another factor limiting the use of vaccines against coccidia is the inclusion of several species of eimeria in one vaccine, which can cause a further depression in weight gain and feed conversion and a potential vaccine failure.



To facilitate the development of novel control strategies for coccidiosis, it is crucial to gain more knowledge about the interaction between eimeria species and the birds, with a comprehensive understanding of the birds' immune system.

Gut microflora plays an important role in birds' immune system as it is considered one of the first lines of defense against pathogens. Probiotic supplementation of the gut microflora in people and animals has been shown to increase the gut's defensive mechanisms against enteric pathogenic microorganisms.

Probiotics have been studied and used extensively in the poultry industry for their benefits on bird performance, immunity and protection against enteric diseases. However, little is known about their use to control parasitic diseases such as coccidiosis.

Although most studies have focused on the effects of probiotics killing pathogens at the gut level, studies on non-gut pathogens in animals, such as Babesia and Trypanosoma, among others, support a remote effect of probiotics, possibly through a non-specific immune modulation (Cawthorn et al., 1981; Travers et al., 2011).

Few studies have been conducted to look at the effects of different probiotic strains on coccidiosis in poultry, such as Bacillus species, Saccharomyces boulardii, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus salivarius, Lactobacillus reuteri, Pediococcus acidilactici, Enterococcus faecium and Bifidobacterium animalis (Qin et al., 1995; Dalloul et al., 2003a, 2003b and 2005; Tierney et al., 2004; Lee et al., 2007a, 2007b and 2010b; Ghasemi et al., 2010).

Recently, a research group in the School of Veterinary Medicine at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece evaluated the effect of dietary supplementation of feed with different probiotic preparations given to broilers experimentally challenged with E. tenella sporulated oocysts on day 14 (Giannenas et al., 2012).

The experimental groups consisted of positive and negative controls, a group that was challenged with E. tenella and was given the anticoccidial lasalocid at the level of 60 mg/kg of feed and the remaining groups that were all challenged with E. tenella and were given the basal diet supplemented with different probiotic preparations. These probiotic preparations included E. faecium, B. animalis, L. reuteri, B. subtilis and the multispecies probiotic mix of five poultry-specific strains: E. faecium, P. acidilactici, B. animalis, L. salivarius and L. reuteri (PoultryStar).

The overall performance of birds fed the probiotic blend was significantly higher than the infected control groups, while overall oocyst shedding was significantly lower in the lasalocid-treated group, which also showed significantly lower cecal lesion scores compared to the untreated infected group, but the scores did not differ from the E. faecium, B. animalis and probiotic blend groups. These results suggest that probiotics could be used to reduce the effects of coccidiosis in broilers.

The same research group conducted another experiment to support their previous findings (Giannenas et al., unpublished). They looked at the effect of the probiotic blend on the performance and gut health of broilers experimentally challenged with coccidia (E. acervulina, E. maxima and E. tenella sporulated oocysts). The five experimental groups consisted of positive and negative controls, two groups challenged with mixed eimeria species that were given the probiotic blend in feed and a final group challenged with mixed eimeria species that were treated with lasalocid at 75 mg/kg.

The results of this study supported the previous trial and showed that the probiotic blend supplementation exerted an anticoccidial effect against Eimeria species, reflected in the birds' performance, which was similar to those on the lasalocid treatment. Groups fed the probiotic blend showed lower numbers of oocysts shedding, lesion scores and bloody feces than the infected control group but higher numbers than the lasalocid group.

Also, probiotic blend-treated groups had the highest values of villous height and villous height-to-crypt depth ratios in comparison to all other groups.

The combined use of probiotics and coccidial vaccines and the effect on birds' immune response was studied by another research group in the U.S. (Stringfellow et al., 2011). The experiment consisted of four groups: a negative control, a probiotic blend treatment, vaccinated and probiotic blend plus vaccinated groups (Figure 1). The probiotic blend was administered in drinking water at an inclusion rate of 20 g per 1,000 birds per day, while birds in the vaccinated groups received Coccivac-B on day of hatch.

The researchers looked at the immune modulatory effects of the probiotic mix and the vaccine used on the innate and adaptive immunity. Positive immune modulatory effects were shown in the group that received the probiotic blend and vaccine on days 14 and 21 compared with all other groups (Figure 2).

The results of this study highlight the fact that the addition of probiotics in the drinking water of coccidia-vaccinated broilers may offer increased protection at vaccination time or an adjuvant effect by immunomodulation of the birds' immune system. This provides an opportunity to improve currently existing coccidia vaccines.

Nevertheless, vaccines are still the most powerful solution for controlling coccidiosis in poultry and reducing its negative economic impact. However, until these vaccines are available for commercial use, the industry has to consider other alternatives, such as probiotics, that can be used with anticoccidial drugs.

With current knowledge and advances in direct-fed microbials, proposing probiotics as an alternative to conventional chemotherapeutics to control coccidiosis seems impractical. However, it can be used as a complementary approach in shuttle and rotation programs to reduce the incidence and severity of the disease as well as the development of anticoccidial drug resistance in eimeria species.

Can probiotics help in coccidiosis control?


Cawthorn, R.J., D. Rainnie and G. Wobeser. 1981. Experimental transmission of Sarcocystis sp. (Protozoa: Sarcocystidae) between the shoveler (Anas clypeata) duck and the striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis). J. Wildlife Dis. 17(3):389-394.

Dalloul, R.A., H.S. Lillehoj, T.A. Shellem and J.A. Doerr. 2003a. Intestinal immunomodulation by vitamin A deficiency and Lactobacillus-based probiotic in Eimeria acervulina-infected broiler chickens. Avian Dis. 47(4):1313-1320.

Dalloul, R.A., H.S. Lillehoj, T.A. Shellem and J.A. Doerr. 2003b. Enhanced mucosal immunity against Eimeria acervulina in broilers fed a Lactobacillus-based probiotic. Poult. Sci. 82(1):62-66.

Dalloul, R.A., H.S. Lillehoj, N.M. Tamim, T.A. Shellem and J.A. Doerr. 2005. Induction of local protective immunity to Eimeria acervulina by a Lactobacillus-based probiotic. Comp. Immunol. Microbiol. Infect. Dis. 28(5-6):351-361.

Ghasemi, H.A., M. Shivazad, K. Esmaeilnia, H. Kohram and M.A. Karimi. 2010. The effects of a synbiotic containing Enterococcus faecium and inulin on growth performance and resistance to coccidiosis in broiler chickens. Japan Poultry Science Assn. 47:149-155.

Giannenas, I., E. Papadopoulos, E. Tsalie, E. Triantafillou, S. Henikl, K. Teichmann et al. 2012. Assessment of dietary supplementation with probiotics on performance, intestinal morphology and microflora of chickens infected with Eimeria tenella. Vet. Parasitol. 188(1-2):31-40.

Lee, K.W., S.H. Lee, H.S. Lillehoj, G.X. Li, S.I. Jang, U.S. Babu et al. 2010b. Effects of direct-fed microbials on growth performance, gut morphometry and immune characteristics in broiler chickens. Poult. Sci. 89(2):203-216.

Lee, S.H., H.S. Lillehoj, R.A. Dalloul, D.W. Park, Y.H. Hong and J.J. Lin. 2007a. Influence of Pediococcus-based probiotic on coccidiosis in broiler chickens. Poult. Sci. 86(1):63-66.

Lee, S.H., H.S. Lillehoj, D.W. Park, Y.H. Hong and J.J. Lin. 2007b. Effects of Pediococcus- and Saccharomyces-based probiotic (MitoMax) on coccidiosis in broiler chickens. Comp. Immunol. Microbiol. Infect. Dis. 30(4):261-268.

Qin, Z.R., T. Fukata, E. Baba and A. Arakawa. 1995. Effect of lactose and Lactobacillus acidophilus on the colonization of Salmonella enteritidis in chicks concurrently infected with Eimeria tenella. Avian Dis. 39(3):548-553.

Stringfellow, K., D. Caldwell, J. Lee, M. Mohnl, R. Beltran, G. Schatzmayr et al. 2011. Evaluation of probiotic administration on the immune response of coccidiosis-vaccinated broilers. Poult. Sci. 90(8):1652-1658.

Tierney, J., H. Gowing, D. Van Sinderen, S. Flynn, L. Stanley, N. McHardy et al. 2004. In vitro inhibition of Eimeria tenella invasion by indigenous chicken Lactobacillus species. Vet. Parasitol. 122(3):171-182.

Travers, M.A., I. Florent, L. Kohl and P. Grellier. 2011. Probiotics for the control of parasites: An overview. J. Parasitol. Res. 2011:610769.

Williams, R.B. 1999. A compartmentalized model for the estimation of the cost of coccidiosis to the world's chicken production industry. Int. J. Parasitol. (Review). 29(8):1209-1229.

Volume:85 Issue:13

Wide-ranging poultry litter study underway

Wide-ranging poultry litter study underway

PREVIOUS research studies have shown that poultry litter applications have many benefits for corn and soybean producers, but these benefits have not been quantified or integrated into one comprehensive research study.

Now, University of Kentucky extension soils specialist Edwin Ritchey is leading a study to explore whether poultry litter applications can increase yield, allow for better water infiltration, improve soil's water-holding capacity and add organic matter to the soil on western Kentucky corn and soybean operations.

He will also study whether one of the crops receives more value from the poultry litter, if nutrient values vary among different poultry litter sources and if producers receive a yield boost from applying both poultry litter and nitrogen to their fields.

"This research should determine whether poultry litter, in addition to providing plant nutrients, can improve soil quality without adversely affecting insects, diseases and weeds," Ritchey said. "If it can, and if producers can economically obtain it, it might be preferred over a strict use of commercial fertilizers."

As part of the research, University of Kentucky extension weed scientist Jim Martin and extension plant pathologist Don Hershman will study the effect the poultry litter has on weeds and disease pests, particularly the soybean cyst nematode.

The study is being funded by the Kentucky Soybean Promotion Board and the Kentucky Corn Growers Assn.

In 2012, Ritchey selected four producers' fields in Daviess, Hopkins, McLean and Henderson counties in Kentucky for the study. He selected these fields because they have low to medium nutrient values in the soil and issues with soybean cyst nematodes. The fields range in size from three to five acres.

Researchers gathered initial baseline data from the fields in 2012 and sampled the fields more intensively in March. Researchers will apply poultry litter to two corn fields and two soybean fields in the spring prior to planting. They will collect data throughout the growing season, culminating with yield data at harvest.

Greenhouse research to test for the presence of weed seed in poultry litter began in January at the University of Kentucky Research & Education Center. Field research concerning whether poultry litter alters weed species or weed growth will begin in the spring and continue throughout the season, with the goal of collecting samples before the grower applies herbicides, the announcement said.

"There's some concern that poultry litter may contain weed seed and, that by applying poultry litter, growers may introduce new and different weeds into a field," Martin said. "We're not sure if that's the case, so that's why we're testing the poultry litter in the greenhouse and in the field."

In addition, Ritchey received the results of the 2011 poultry litter nutrient tests conducted at the university's Soil Testing Laboratory this winter. He will analyze these results to see if the nutrient content varies among poultry ages, types and integrators.


Bone fractures

Skeletal health in laying hens is a major welfare and economic problem, with up to 80% of hens suffering bone breakages in some free-range systems.

A new three-year study in the U.K. will aim to reduce the fracture rates in laying hens as part of a £532,000 grant funded by the U.K.'s Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and supported by industrial partner Noble Foods.

The research project will be led by Drs. John Tarlton and Michael Toscano from the University of Bristol's School of Veterinary Sciences and Dr. Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova in the university's department of engineering mathematics.

Collisions are believed to be the principle cause of keel bone fractures in free-range systems, the announcement said, but the difficulty in observing breaks as they occur prevents researchers from more clearly understanding the determining factors.

With the 2012 ban on battery cage systems in the European Union, as many as 30 million hens will be housed in alternative systems, mostly free range. This means 24 million hens could potentially have bone breakage each year in the U.K., which the industry and government view as unsustainable.

Noble Foods, the U.K.'s largest egg marketing company, will play a central role in the study by providing open and free access to its varied housing systems.

The study will first replicate keel fractures in an ex vivo impact testing apparatus. Bird characteristics such as weight, age and mechanical properties of the keel bone as well as collision factors like impact energy and material compliance will be mathematically modeled to understand how these elements interact to determine fracture occurrence and severity. The model will predict the likelihood of fractures occurring in a bird or flock.

The model will then be validated using live birds wearing specially designed vests fitted with tri-axial accelerometers that are capable of measuring the kinetic energy of natural impacts of birds within defined housing environments, the announcement said. Thus, the energy and frequency of impacts a bird actually experiences will be quantified and related to the model.

On-farm studies will use the accelerometers to determine kinetic energy profiles within particular commercial housing systems, which have previously been shown to impart widely differing fracture risks. The impact monitors will provide a physical measure of housing risk and allow the researchers to test the model in predicting real fractures in commercial settings, BBSRC said.

Tarlton, senior research fellow in Bristol's infection and immunity group and principle investigator on the grant, said, "By analyzing their kinetic energy profiles, we can rapidly assess the keel bone fracture risk of commercial housing systems. From this, we can identify key elements of housing or bird physiology that can be modified by producers to substantially reduce fracture rates. If successful, this study will greatly improve the health and welfare of laying hens, enhance consumer attitudes to egg production and promote the sustainability of the U.K. egg industry."

The three-year study will combine statistical and computer modeling techniques with biomechanical and biochemical analyses and skeletal welfare assessments to enhance the health and well-being of the hens.


Research facility

Meanwhile, in the U.K., a new research center for poultry is being built.

Work has begun on a 14 million British pound National Avian Research Facility (NARF) at the University of Edinburgh's Easter Bush campus in Scotland, according to an announcement from BBSRC.

Its resources will be made available to both national and international researchers studying issues that affect avian health, such as the spread of infections.

Research could range from looking at diseases that have a huge economic burden on the industry, such as campylobacter and salmonella, to developing vaccines against infections.

Construction of the facility, which is due to be completed in late 2014, is being funded by BBSRC, the Roslin Foundation and the University of Edinburgh.

The initiative also involves collaboration between The Roslin Institute, which is incorporated with the University of Edinburgh Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, and The Pirbright Institute in Surrey, England. Both institutes are strategically funded by BBSRC.

Key aims for NARF include addressing the need for improved sustainability in poultry production in light of an increasing global population and a need to reduce foodborne diseases.

Roslin Institute director David Hume said, "This building is a key component of the ongoing development of the Easter Bush Campus and reflects the growing portfolio of research that The Roslin Institute is undertaking with the aim of improving the health and welfare of chickens."

NARF will include sterile areas -- known as specified-pathogen-free -- for poultry with different genetic compositions that are resistant to viruses, bacteria and parasites. It will also include conventional avian accommodation as well as laboratories for research.

Roslin Institute professor Pete Kaiser, who will lead NARF, added, "Chickens are a production animal of major economic importance around the world, with 50 billion birds being bred every year. This facility will provide The Roslin Institute and its partners with an outstanding environment for undertaking the studies that will lead to major improvements in poultry health and welfare."

The facility will enhance research already carried out at The Roslin Institute, such as studies in avian immunology, vaccine development and the role genes play in disease resistance. Researchers from The Roslin Institute were also part of a team of U.K. scientists who produced genetically modified chickens that were unable to spread bird flu.


Chicken preservation

Important breeds of chickens could be safeguarded from extinction by the latest stem cell technology at The Roslin Institute, where scientists are finding ways to take stem cells from chicken eggs so that they can be kept in a "frozen aviary" and used to bring back breeds of birds that might become wiped out by outbreaks such as avian influenza.

They will be stored in a stem cell bank that will be located at NARF.

Research already underway has shown that it is possible to take chicken stem cells directly from the embryo in chickens that can then be used for fertilization in the future to breed birds.

Dr. Mike McGrew with The Roslin Institute recently discussed his research at the TEDxDeExtinction conference.

"Using stem cells can help safeguard rare breeds, which could be wiped out as a result of disease. Stem cell technology will also help to ensure that we are able to maintain important breeds, for instance, to ensure that we have chickens that can adapt to warmer climates as a result of global warming. It is possible that, in the future, this research could be applied to endangered species of birds," McGrew said.

Volume:85 Issue:13

NSP enzyme improves low-energy broiler diet

NSP enzyme improves low-energy broiler diet

*Dr. William A. Dudley-Cash is a poultry and fish nutritionist and has his own consulting firm in Modesto, Cal. To expedite answers to questions concerning this column, please direct inquiries to Feedstuffs, Bottom Line of Nutrition, 5810 W. 78th St., Suite 200, Bloomington, Minn. 55439, or email [email protected]

NON-starch polysaccharide (NSP) enzymes are most commonly included in poultry diets containing barley and/or wheat, two feed ingredients that contain higher levels of NSPs.

NSP enzymes are not usually added to corn/soybean meal diets. However, at the International Poultry Scientific Forum, J. Klein, M. Williams and J. Lee of the Texas A&M University poultry science department, B. Brown of Enzyvia LLC, M. Kidd of the University of Arkansas and R. Brister of Tyson Foods presented abstract M60 on an experiment conducted to evaluate the inclusion of a cocktail NSP (Enspira) in low-energy corn/soybean meal diets containing dried distillers grains plus solubles (DDGS).

The experimental design consisted of three dietary treatments: (1) a positive control (PC), (2) a negative control (NC) with a reduction of 55 kcal/kg in the starter and a reduction of 88 kcal/kg in the finisher and withdrawal periods and (3) the NC supplemented with the NSP enzyme. Each treatment was fed to 16 replicate pens of 40 male broilers per replicate (1,920 total chicks).

The feeding program consisted of a starter, grower and finisher. All starter diets contained 5% DDGS, all grower diets contained 10% DDGS and all finisher diets contained 15% DDGS.

The broilers were weighed and feed consumption determined on days 14, 27 and 39. Following an eight-hour feed withdrawal, seven broilers per replicate were processed to determine carcass and fat pad yields.

When compared with the broilers fed the PC diet, bodyweights were significantly reduced on days 14 and 27 for those broilers fed the NC diet. Inclusion of the NSP enzyme significantly increased bodyweights so that the broilers fed the NC diet containing NSP enzyme had bodyweights that were similar to the broilers fed the PC diet.

Feed conversion was significantly increased for those broilers fed the NC diet compared to the PC diet during each of the feeding phases. The addition of the NSP enzyme significantly reduced the cumulative feed conversion at days 27 and 39 compared with the broilers fed the NC diet so that it was similar to feed conversion for the broilers fed the PC diet.

The carcass and fat pad yields were similar for all three treatment groups.


The Bottom Line

The authors said these data confirm that inclusion of an NSP enzyme can compensate for the loss in performance associated with reductions in dietary energy.


Amino acid density

P. Tillman of Poultry Technical Nutrition Services and K. Perryman and W. Dozier III of the Auburn University department of poultry science reported that increased dietary amino acid density from 1 to 35 days of age optimizes profitability in Hubbard M99 x Cobb 500 male broilers (abstract M61).

An experiment was conducted to determine the effects of feeding broiler diets formulated with progressive increases in digestible lysine levels on growth performance, meat yields and economic return over feed cost. In the experiment, 1,500 Hubbard M99 x Cobb 500 male chicks were randomly distributed to 16 floor pens, with 25 birds per pen (0.09 sq. m per bird at one day of age).

Five experimental diets were fed over three phases: (1) a starter for days 1-14, (2) a grower for days 15-28 and (3) a finisher for days 29-35. A low-digestible lysine basal diet and a high-digestible lysine summit diet were formulated and blended to create three additional diets.

The weighted digestible lysine concentrations were 0.88%, 0.95%, 1.02%, 1.09% and 1.16%, respectively, for the five experimental treatments. The experimental diets were formulated to all contain similar ratios of digestible threonine, sulfur amino acids, valine, isoleucine, arginine and tryptophan to digestible lysine. The authors referred to these experimental diets as basal, industry low, industry high, requirement and summit, respectively.

At 35 days of age, eight birds per pen were selected for processing.

Significant linear and quadratic increases in bodyweight gain were observed for the broilers consuming incremental concentrations of digestible lysine (and the other digestible amino acids) from day 1 to day 35 of age. These broilers also had significantly improved feed conversion when consuming higher concentrations of digestible lysine.

Incremental increases in digestible lysine concentrations resulted in a significant quadratic increase in feed intake. Those broilers that received the feeds containing a weighted average of 1.02% digestible lysine consumed the largest quantity of feed.

Significant linear increases were also observed for breast weight, breast yield, drumstick weight, wing weight and thigh weight. Significant quadratic responses were observed for drumstick weight, wing weight and thigh weight.

Return over feed cost was maximized for those broilers consuming the weighted average 1.02% digestible lysine (the industry high treatment) compared with those broilers consuming the basal diet (0.88% weighted average digestible lysine) at $3.06 versus $2.66 per bird, respectively.


The Bottom Line

These data show the importance of providing adequate dietary amino acid density to achieve optimum feed conversion, production of saleable meat and profitability.


Organic broiler diets

Sulfur amino acids are typically the first limiting amino acids in broiler diets, including organic broiler diets. Synthetic methionine has been approved for addition to organic broiler diets to meet birds' requirement for sulfur amino acids; however, the organic industry would prefer to find an organic substitute ingredient to meet the sulfur amino acid requirement.

H. Burley, P. Patterson, R. Hulet and P. Patterson of the department of animal science at The Pennsylvania State University presented research on the use of organic ingredients as a source of sulfur amino acids (abstract M65).

In experiment 1, 208 male Cobb x Ross 308 broilers were fed five diets (seven cages per diet, with eight birds per cage) from 0 to 21 days of age. The treatments consisted of a non-organic commercial control with synthetic methionine and a standard crude protein level, an organic control without synthetic methionine but with a higher crude protein level and three organic diets without synthetic methionine but with the addition of Brazil nut meal, spray-dried egg white or an egg blend of 70:30 albumen-to-yolk.

In experiment 2, 310 male Cobb x Ross 308 broilers were fed six diets (seven cages per diet, with eight birds per cage) from 0 to 21 days. The experimental treatments consisted of a non-organic commercial control with synthetic methionine and a standard crude protein level and diets containing the egg white and egg blend. Each egg diet had either low or high biotin supplementation.

The formulated methionine level was 0.51% and 0.45% for all starter and grower diets, respectively. Growth performance was monitored from 0 to 21 days, and processing yields were determined at 21 days of age.

In experiment 3, 210 male Ross x Heritage broilers were fed six diets (six cages per diet, with five birds per cage) from 31 to 35 days of age. Each of the experimental diets contained one of the experimental ingredients -- Brazil nut meal, egg white, egg blend, naked oats, hull-less barley or dehulled sunflower seed meal -- as the sole source of protein.

A protein-free diet was also fed to measure endogenous amino acid losses. Acid-insoluble ash was included as an indigestible marker in all diets. At 35 days, the ileal digesta was collected for amino acid and acid-insoluble ash analysis. Apparent and true ileal digestibility were calculated.

In experiment 1, the Brazil nut diet resulted in equivalent bodyweight gain, feed efficiency and most processing parameters to the non-organic commercial control diet. Biotin deficiency symptoms were seen for all of the egg diets in experiment 1; these deficiency symptoms were assumed to be the result of the biotin-binding egg white protein avidin present in the egg products.

These symptoms were eliminated in experiment 2 by the addition of dietary biotin. The egg diets also resulted in reduced growth and feed efficiency and processing weights compared with the non-organic commercial control diet. Bodyweight gain averaged 696 g for the control diet compared to an average of 597 g for the egg diets.

The egg diets and Brazil nut diets had a lower cost per ton and cost per kilogram of bled breast and sum of parts weights compared with the organic control diet.

In experiment 3, the egg white diet had lower apparent and true digestibility compared with the naked oats and sunflower seed meal.


The Bottom Line

These results show that Brazil nut meal can be used to replace synthetic methionine and maintain broiler growth in organic broiler diets. The depressed bird growth and feed intake caused by egg products in this study indicates that these spray-dried products are probably not suitable for feeding broilers in their current form.


Medium-chain fatty acids

K. Deschepper, R. Goedegebuure and R. Costa of Nuscience in Belgium and L. Maertens of ILVO in Belgium presented a paper (abstract M68) on the effect of adding a balanced mixture of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) to broiler feed on growth performance and processing yield.

Two experiments were conducted with male Ross 308 broilers using a three-phase feeding program with 13 days for each phase.

Experiment 1 consisted of two dietary treatments -- control and MCFA (Aromabiotic Poultry) -- with nine replicates of 32 birds per replicate for each treatment for a total of 576 birds. The basal diet was a wheat/corn/soybean meal diet. MCFA was added at a level of 1.70, 1.25 and 0.80 g/kg to the starter, grower and finisher, respectively.

Experiment 2 consisted of three dietary treatments with seven replicates of 30 birds per treatment for a total of 630 birds fed starter, grower and finisher diets over 39 days. The three treatments consisted of a wheat/corn/soybean meal control diet and the control diet with the addition of either 0.8 or 1.2 g/kg of MCFA.

For each experiment, the average pen weight was recorded at 13, 26 and 39 days of age. Feed intake was recorded for days 1-13, 14-26 and 27-39. At the end of the second experiment, two broilers of average pen weight were selected from each pen for the determination of processing results.

In experiment 1, the addition of MCFA significantly improved average daily gain in the starter, grower and overall: 67.6 g versus 64.6 g per day. After correcting for weight differences, feed conversion was two points better for the group receiving MCFA compared to the control group: 1.62 versus 1.64.

In experiment 2, average daily gain and feed conversion were significantly improved by the addition of MCFA. The best results were observed with the lower level of MCFA: 64.9 g versus 62.6 g per day for gain and 1.53 versus 1.58 for feed conversion. Breast meat yield was improved only at the higher dosage of MCFA: 23.1% versus 22.6%.


The Bottom Line

An MCFA mixture is a functional feed ingredient that was found to improve broiler performance in this research.

The abstracts of the International Poultry Scientific Forum may be found on the U.S. Poultry & Egg Assn. website at www.ipe13.org/ipsf/docs/13AbstractBook.pdf.

Volume:85 Issue:13

It's all a matter of perspective (commentary)

It's all a matter of perspective (commentary)

OUR current food system is broken. It has grown to allow a large diversity of choices, and those myriad choices now have expanded to the point that most Americans can make the wrong choice when it comes to their health, the environment and sustainability.

One of the biggest issues with the food system is its carbon footprint.

The fastest and easiest way to fix this is to stop worrying about how different crops can grow more efficiently in different soils and climates and instead eat only foods that are grown near you.

That means anyone living in a more northern climate would need to eat more meat and dairy products, fewer vegetables and absolutely no chocolate or coffee.

Of course, no matter how far your food has traveled, if it's pre-prepared, processed or preserved in any way, each bite will take hours off your lifespan. Therefore, it is necessary to purchase only fresh, unprepared food.

It is okay if you find yourself throwing out more food and making daily trips to the supermarket, as long as you are decreasing your carbon footprint.

Soil is as limited of a resource as water. In order to be sure that your eating habits are helping to protect the soil, it is important to find and make purchases only from farmers who properly manage their soils.

If a farmer's yields are above average, this means he is removing more nutrients from the soil than other farmers in the area, so it's best to buy from farmers who have not improved their yields over the past several years.

Somewhere along the line, our food has become inorganic. I am not sure how scientists have managed to do it, but they have found ways to make food out of rocks and metals. These foods make up the majority of today's diets and are the leading cause of obesity, autism and type 2 diabetes.

Since it's not a requirement for food processors to list rocks and metals on food labels, it's virtually impossible to know if you are eating these deadly ingredients. To reduce your risk of exposure to inorganic foods, be sure to buy only foods that have been certified as organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In an effort to keep food cheap, farmers are expected to sell their crops at next to nothing. They have managed to do this by reproducing like rabbits. The average farmer has 16 children who are expected to know how to hoe, pitch and shuck by the time they are three. Oftentimes, these children are forced to work endless hours in inhumane conditions that result in premature death, leading to the absence of future generations to keep the farm going.

This issue is almost systemic across all family farms and can be avoided only by ensuring that your food has been purchased from the 2% of corporate farms that exist in America.

If this isn't enough for you, think of how stress has become a dirty word to farm animals. Livestock are no longer allowed to search for their own food. They will never know what it is like to defend their young from a pack of coyotes.

Young piglets no longer have to fear for their lives that they may be their mother's next meal. Instead, they are placed in barns where their every need is catered to by one of the farmer's many kids.

This phenomenon was borne out of America's demand for a healthy, safe and consistent supply of protein, so to avoid it, start demanding less-than-ideal grades of meat from your local butcher.

If you happen to purchase a half-eaten steak, you can be assured that a coyote did not starve from the making of your meal.

Yes, indeed, our food system is broken. Unless all of us step up to the plate, we will continue to deplete our natural resources at the expense of our health, livestock and future farmers.

*Mike Haley farms alongside his father Steve and wife Pam in Ohio, where they raise corn, soybeans, wheat and registered Simmental cattle. He is passionate about sharing information about agriculture with others. He is active in online conversations and can be found at http://haley-farms.com, http://justfarmers.biz and on Twitter @farmerhaley.

Volume:85 Issue:13

DuPont, Monsanto settle suits

DuPont, Monsanto settle suits

THE two biggest players in the global seed and trait business agreed last week to a series of licensing agreements involving soybean technologies, settling suits against one another claiming various patent and antitrust issues.

Among the largest implications of the settlement is that it will set aside a $1 billion verdict a jury awarded Monsanto last August in the company's claim that DuPont infringed upon its patented Roundup Ready technology (Feedstuffs, Aug. 6, 2012).

Under terms of the settlement, DuPont will pay a minimum of $1.75 billion in royalty payments to Monsanto for the use of its technology.

Through a multiyear, royalty-bearing license, DuPont will be able to offer Monsanto's Geunity Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybean technology in the U.S. and Canada as early as 2014 and Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Xtend glyphosate- and dicamba-tolerant soybeans as soon as 2015. The company will also have regulatory data rights to soybean and corn traits previously licensed from Monsanto, allowing DuPont to create a broad array of stacked-trait seed products using traits and genetics from DuPont Pioneer or other technology licensers.

In addition to royalty payments, Monsanto will receive access to certain DuPont Pioneer patents covering traits for disease resistance and corn defoliation.

DuPont Pioneer president Paul Schickler said the agreement was a good move for his company.

"This technology exchange helps both companies expand the range of innovative solutions we can offer farmers and to do so faster than either of us could alone," he explained. "The agreements broaden the Pioneer soybean lineup. Importantly, they give us greater flexibility in developing combinations of genetics and traits to help feed an increasingly crowded planet."

According to the terms of the agreements, DuPont will make a series of four annual upfront royalty payments totaling $802 million, starting in 2014. These payments are related to trait technology, associated data and soybean lines to support commercial introduction.

Beginning in 2018, the company will pay variable royalty payments on a per-unit basis of Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield and Genuity Roundup 2 Xtend for continued technology access. The payments will continue for the life of the agreements, subject to annual minimum payments through 2023 totaling $950 million.

The jury verdict from last August had found that DuPont had "willfully infringed" upon Monsanto's patents, which DuPont strongly contested. It had filed a separate antitrust case against Monsanto. Both sides agreed to drop their respective suits as part of the current settlement.

Volume:85 Issue:13