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Articles from 2014 In May

Taking farm-to-plate mission 'to the extreme'

Taking farm-to-plate mission 'to the extreme'

TRANSPARENCY, education and hospitality all come together to form the guiding mission behind the new 18,000 sq. ft. dining and conference facility that is going up at Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, Ind.

Fair Oaks Farms is committed to educating the public about modern farming efforts and also to protecting the environment, caring for the animals and ensuring the highest-quality products possible.

When it opens this July, The Farmhouse Restaurant at Fair Oaks Farms will provide guests with a one-of-a-kind opportunity not only to see how and where their food is produced but also to see it being prepared and then enjoy it on their plates.

Carl Bruggemeier, managing partner of the Farmhouse Restaurant at Fair Oaks Farms. In the background a 150 year old elm tree that he plans to decorate with thousands of white lights for guests to enjoy.

"We are truly striving to provide a farm-to-table experience like no other," Carl Bruggemeier, the creator and managing partner of the restaurant, told Feedstuffs in a private tour last month.

Bruggemeier, who started in the culinary world as a meat cutter, has more than 35 years of management experience, primarily in the hospitality industry.

He has brought more than 50 restaurants and retail stores to life. In the past, when he opened a new establishment, Bruggemeier said he ran it for a year or so and then turned it over to others.

The Farmhouse, though, is a bit different in that he is a vested partner and plans to personally stay involved with the restaurant long term.

Enthusiastic about the possibilities Fair Oaks Farms offers — from exposure to the farm's visitors and those traveling on Interstate 65 between Chicago, Ind., and Indianapolis, Ind. — Bruggemeier is particularly keen to be able to share the complete farm-to-food story.

The Farmhouse Restaurant at Fair Oaks Farm. Opening July 2014.

He said that is definitely something he very much believes in, but he also is frustrated by the misleading use of the farm-to-table term in culinary circles. Too many restaurants tout their fare as being "local," but dig a little deeper, and sometimes it turns out that it means nothing more than having a lady down the block deliver a handful of garden-grown herbs each morning.

"They find one or two producers of local product and then go to the public and claim, 'Our restaurant is farm to table.' Those who come to our table will know for certain just where the food they are being served came from," he said of The Farmhouse.

Nonetheless, Bruggemeier realizes that seasonality and geography can create some limitations. He also realizes that it will take time to ramp up his overall commitment to locally produced foods. Ultimately, he said he wants 80% of the food served at The Farmhouse, as well as the 3,000 sq. ft. bakery and farmers market nearby, to be sourced locally.

It is all about transparency. The kitchen at the Farmhouse Restaurant at Fair Oaks Farms will be open for viewing and tours will be available to interested guests.

Bruggemeier and his team will visit all of their suppliers on a regular basis. "We won't serve a product we don't know everything about," he said, noting that he has absolutely no concerns over how food is produced today or its safety.

Guests at The Farmhouse also will be able to watch first-hand as their food is prepared. The kitchen has been designed specifically with a wall of glass that opens to the dining area. Tours of the kitchen will be available before 11 a.m. and between 3 and 5 p.m. each day for small groups of 10 or so.

Those seated in the chef's dining room during meal hours will be able to go into the kitchen during the preparation of their meal. Bruggemeier said he expects that The Farmhouse will employ 35 culinary specialists, not counting servers and others.

"Our kitchen is our stage. Our chefs are the actors. Our diners are our audience. Each day, we will have a matinee and dinner show," Bruggemeier said.

On the back of every menu at The Farmhouse will be "the story."

"We just believe in transparency to the extreme," Bruggemeier said, and part of what we want to achieve is to educate along the way and hopefully change the perception consumers have of the modern food system.

He added that he wants guests to come to the farm to learn about food production, visit The Farmhouse to consume a meal and then visit the combined bakery and farmers market to take the experience home with them.

"See it. Taste it. Take it home. It is an experience that doesn't exist anywhere else," Bruggemeier said.

Volume:86 Issue:22

Syngenta launches $50k contest

Syngenta launches $50k contest

SYNGENTA announced on May 27 a contest for creative ideas that will support one or more of the six measurable commitments of The Good Growth Plan, a program to help sustainably address global food security challenges.

The Good Growth Plan Grant Contest will award one grand prize of $20,000 to help the winner implement the idea. Also, three runners-up will receive $10,000 each for the same purpose.

Syngenta said the Good Growth Plan addresses the overall food security challenge with six measurable objectives to boost resource efficiency, rejuvenate ecosystems and strengthen rural communities.

The six commitments include:

1. Make crops more efficient. Increase the average productivity of the world's major crops by 20%.

2. Rescue more farmland. Improve the fertility of nearly 25 million acres of farmland on the brink of degradation.

3. Help biodiversity flourish. Enhance the biodiversity on more than 12 million acres of farmland.

4. Empower smallholder farmers. Reach 20 million smallholder farmers and enable them to increase productivity by 50%.

5. Help people stay safe. Train 20 million farm workers on labor safety, especially in developing countries.

6. Look after every worker. Strive for fair labor conditions throughout the entire supply chain network.

The contest seeks ideas that can be implemented to support one or more of these commitments.

The deadline for submissions is July 14. For contest details, official rules and to submit an idea, visit www.GoodGrowthPlanGrant.com.

Volume:86 Issue:22

USDA raises export forecast to record $149.5b

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (ERS) on May 29 revised its fiscal year 2014 forecast for agricultural exports from its February estimate by $6.9 billion to a record $149.5 billion.

The forecast for grain and feed exports was boosted $4.5 billion to $35.8 billion due to higher prices for wheat and greater volumes and prices for corn and feeds and fodders.

The corn export forecast was raised $2.1 billion to $10.7 billion on strong foreign demand and diminished competition, especially from Argentina.

Oilseeds and product exports were forecast at a record $33.8 billion, up $2.4 billion, driven by larger volume and higher prices for soybean and soybean meal exports.

The soybean export forecast was raised $1.8 billion to $23.5 billion based on record sales to China.

The export forecast for livestock, poultry and dairy was raised by $600 million to a record $32.2 billion, with increases in dairy and beef more than offsetting declines in pork and poultry. The horticultural product export forecast was lowered $400 million to $34.1 billion, but still forecast at a record high.

U.S. agricultural imports for fiscal year 2014 were forecast at a record $110.5 billion, up $500 million from February’s estimate. Imports are expected to be 6.4% greater than in fiscal 2013. The forecast for the U.S. agricultural trade surplus in fiscal 2014 was up $6.3 billion from February to $39.0 billion, its second highest ever, said ERS.

Religion in animal ag debate

Religion in animal ag debate

RELIGION is increasingly being used against animal agriculture and, in some cases, is taken too far, according to Nelson D. Kloosterman, executive director of Worldview Resources International.

A minister, professor and ethicist, Kloosterman believes the reason religion has become an effective anti-animal agriculture argument is because of religious illiteracy on the part of activist groups as well as, to some extent, the general public.

Most troubling to Kloosterman are the cases of clear and intentional abuse of religion. For proof of this, he noted that one need only look at the "faith resources," religious sources, religious curricula and educational materials for churches and Sunday schools that have been developed for children and adults.

Kloosterman, who said he has spent time on a hog farm but is by no means a farmer nor has any vested interest in animal agriculture, is concerned about what effect such blatant misuse of religion may have on the nation's hungry and poor.

Kloosterman admits that his belief is generally more along the lines of classic or historic religion, which calls for respect for animals and attention to animal welfare but clearly allows for animals to be raised for the benefit of humans.

He firmly believes that nowhere in the Bible or scripture does it say that humans, animals and plants are equal or that it is wrong to use animals.

"Humans are inherently superior. By virtue of their maker, it is okay for humans to benefit from plants and animals, as long as they do not abuse them," he said, pointing to the part in the Bible when God came to Noah after the flood and repeated the creation mandate, or the cultural mandate. God said to Noah (in Genesis 9:3), "Every moving thing that lives shall be food to you." Kloosterman said he reads this passage to mean that humans are permitted to eat meat with delight and joy.

Psalm 8:6-8 says, "You have given men dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the sea."

Kloosterman interprets that as giving humans permission to exercise their dominion over animals like pigs, cows and chickens and does not see it as immoral, deviant or abnormal.

One truly can say that everything God has given us on this Earth is created for good, for our use and for our enjoyment, as long as we receive it with thanksgiving, which is to say, as long as we receive it with humble submission, Kloosterman said. He emphasized that dominion and use of animals for human benefit is in no way exploitation of animals.

Kloosterman has three recommendations for animal agriculture that he believes will help in reclaiming and reframing the religion-based arguments being waged by activists.

First, he said, animal agriculture must practice what he refers to as "comprehensive transparency." Agriculture must become confident enough with what it is doing and why it is doing it to let consumers "in the barn." The public needs to see where their food comes from.

Second, Kloosterman said agriculture must move beyond advocacy to what he terms public service. This doesn't mean that advocacy is unimportant or that the industry should ignore legislative initiatives that affect food animal production, but in terms of public image, advances need to be made beyond serving only producers to messaging that better serves the public.

Likewise, Kloosterman said animal agriculture must do a better job of recognizing that, like it or not, the customer is king. In the construction business, he joked, that is called the "pink backhoe perspective." If the only way to secure a job is to use a pink backhoe, that is basically what you do to get the business.

Admittedly, that often does require out-of-the-box thinking and solutions. In the case of animal agriculture, that could well mean a mental shift, of sorts, Kloosterman said.

Producers need to remind themselves that they are not just accountable to but accountable for those people who consume the products they produce, as well as for the animals. This is his definition of stewardship.

Last, Kloosterman said, a partnership with animal science educators is essential. While it will take an investment of resources, animal agriculture needs message-makers, communicators, people who are able to meet the opposition on its turf with language, definitions, ideas and concepts.

"We live in challenging times that require a confident identity that links us to the past, motivates us in the present and propels us to meet a future filled with new possibilities and opportunities. It is my conviction that the notion of stewardship or vocation supplies that identity and offers a powerful answer to the alternative messages facing animal agriculture. Indeed, there is dignity in the raising of animals for food," Kloosterman said.

Volume:86 Issue:22

NMPF raises red flag on FDA food labeling efforts

NMPF raises red flag on FDA food labeling efforts

THE National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) is questioning the Food & Drug Administration's effort to regulate common or unusual names of certain types of sugar to be used on food labels while overlooking the misuse of dairy-specific names in foods with no milk content.

"Getting a sugar fix is fine and well, as long as the FDA also turns its attention to a problem that has been ignored for more than a decade," said Beth Briczinski, NMPF vice president of dairy foods and nutrition. "Unfortunately, the agency's lack of effort on misbranded and mislabeled imitation dairy products has left a bitter taste in our mouths."

In the March 5 Federal Register, FDA reopened a draft guidance — originally published in the Oct. 9, 2009, Federal Register — on common or usual names for the solid or dried form of sugarcane syrup as an ingredient.

According to FDA, the dried form of sugarcane syrup is "dried cane syrup," and sweeteners derived from sugarcane should not be declared on food labels as "evaporated cane juice," which falsely suggests that the sweeteners are juice.

As FDA focuses on its concern over mislabeling sugar, meanwhile, the agency is allowing soy, rice, nut and hemp products to define themselves as milk, according to NMPF.

NMPF said it shares FDA's concern over false information on food labels. Clearly, the name of food appearing on food packaging communicates nutritional information to consumers. Hence, non-dairy alternatives using the terms "milk" or "yogurt" suggest that the product has the nutritional equivalent of dairy milk or yogurt, Briczinski said.

In a letter to FDA after a request for comments, NMPF wrote that it is not advising FDA "on an appropriate name for what would be obvious to most consumers is a type of sweetener but, rather, to question the agency's allocation of resources to such an effort."

Furthermore, NMPF claimed that FDA is not enforcing current regulations pertaining to the identity of foods, including imitation dairy products.

"The agency has blatantly disregarded the names displayed on the labels of imitation dairy products (e.g., 'soy milk,' 'rice yogurt,' etc.) in the current marketplace," Briczinski wrote. "While the FDA has made its position clear through warning letters to several manufacturers, NMPF would argue that these actions have been too infrequent to be effective, essentially creating a labeling landscape free of enforcement."

Although NMPF has sent a series of correspondence to FDA in regard to the labeling matter, the agency has only sent notices to manufacturers; the terms still presently appear on food labels.

Volume:86 Issue:20

Isolated corn has medicinal potential

Isolated corn has medicinal potential

LOWERING the temperature for two hours each day reduces the height of corn plants without affecting their seed yield — a technique that could be used to grow crops in controlled-environment facilities in caves and former mines, a Purdue University study has found.

Raising the crops in isolated and enclosed environments would help prevent genetically modified pollen and seed from escaping into the ecosystem and crossing with wild plants.

Purdue horticulture professor Cary Mitchell said the technique could be particularly useful for growing transgenic crops to produce high-value medicinal products, such as antibodies for the budding plant-derived industrial and pharmaceutical compound industry.

"Grains of corn could be engineered to produce proteins that could be extracted and processed into medicine, pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals such as essential vitamins," he said. "This is a young industry, but what we've done is show that you can successfully grow these high-value crops in contained environments."

Mitchell called corn a "good candidate crop" for the industry because of the plant's bounty of seeds and well-characterized genome, which can be modified in many ways. Using plants as "factories" to generate bioactive medicines would be far cheaper than current methods that rely on cell cultures from mammals, he said.

The challenge comes with raising corn — a towering crop that needs bright light and heat — in a dark, cool, underground mine. Mitchell and then-postdoctoral researchers Yang Yang and Gioia Massa installed a growth chamber with insulation and yellow and blue high-intensity discharge lamps in a former limestone mine in Marengo, Ind., to test how corn would react to an environment in which its growing conditions — light, temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide — were tightly controlled. To their surprise, the hybrid corn responded by growing "too well," Yang said.

"We coddled the plants with such luxurious conditions that the corn was touching the lamps before it had even tasseled," he said.

To reduce the corn's height, the researchers borrowed a trick the greenhouse industry uses to dwarf Christmas poinsettias.

Using a growth chamber that mimicked the temperature conditions and carbon dioxide levels of the Marengo mine, they dropped the temperature to 60 degrees F for the first two hours of each photoperiod, the time during which the corn received light. The temperature was restored to 80 degrees F for 14 hours and then lowered to 65 degrees F for eight hours of darkness.

The temperature dip dwarfed the stalk height by 9-10% and reduced the stalk diameter by 8-9% without significantly affecting the number and weight of the seeds.

"This is a technique you could easily do in a mine or cave," Mitchell said. "It is an affordable, non-chemical means of taking genetically modified crops to harvest maturity without getting any kind of pollen or seed into the ecosystem."

He said former mines could be prime locations to grow high-value, transgenic plants because their natural coolness lessens the need to ventilate the heat produced by the lamps. The high levels of carbon dioxide in mines also promote plant growth.

"Productivity in a controlled environment is superior to that in the field, and you can raise more than one crop per year," Mitchell said. "Controlled-environment agriculture is going to be one of the big movements of the 21st century."

The study was published in Industrial Crops & Products and is available at www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0926669013006791.

Volume:86 Issue:22

IC demo farm provides real-world glimpse

IC demo farm provides real-world glimpse

PRODUCERS, veterinarians and food chain leaders are getting a chance to see and experience new technology first-hand at the recently opened Zoetis demonstration farm in Greensburg, Ind.

As part of the farm experience, visitors can explore important pig production topics, such as preweaning mortality, feed efficiency, split-sex feeding and nutritional requirements. In addition, they can learn about recent research and field data on the economic benefits of IMPROVEST, an immunological castration (IC) technology launched by Zoetis in 2011.

In the month or so since the farm became operational, the response has been exceedingly positive, according to Bill Beckman, area application manager for Zoetis. "It has been a home run since we opened the doors."

In fact, Beckman said the number-one response from producers and veterinarians has been how much they appreciate the opportunity to get a real-world sense of the technology.

Since IMPROVEST was rolled out, we've gotten a lot of questions, said Christina Lood, senior manager of marketing communications for the Zoetis pork team. She explained that an extensive collection of videos and other such materials exists, but seeing the product work on real pigs in a real system takes those efforts to an even higher level of education and involvement.

The farm also is being used for training and certification purposes, as well as for distance learning.

Three local FFA chapters take turns with daily pig care on the farm.

There are a total of five cameras, three of which are in the finisher and two in the nursery. The cameras allow the Zoetis team to digitally showcase the IC administration process as well as how the pigs respond after each of the two required doses.

The first group of food chain partners is scheduled to tour the farm in the coming weeks to learn more about IC technology and to see for themselves the process and protocols, explained Christi Calhoun, senior manager of food chain outreach for Zoetis.

IC captures male pigs' natural growth efficiencies, which offer opportunities for optimizing production due to feed savings, reduced piglet mortality and improved market weights.

However, male pigs, if not castrated (either physically or immunologically), can have associated issues with aggression and can be a risk to worker safety. In addition, the final pork meat product of intact males can result in boar taint and potentially can create an unpleasant consumer experience for some.

Through the farm, Zoetis hopes to instill confidence that pig performance and meat quality attributes can be maintained through IC technology to allow hog producers to deliver a consistent pork supply to U.S. and global markets.

The 500-head, nursery-to-finishing facility is jointly supported by veterinarian Larry Rueff and is located on Rueff's 120-acre corn and soybean farm.

"We've long known about the inherent performance advantages of raising intact males," said Rueff, a 30-year practicing veterinarian who co-manages Swine Veterinary Services out of south-central Indiana. "IC technology now allows producers to take advantage of these benefits while still ensuring the same high level of pork quality and great taste consumers have come to expect."

Zoetis welcomes visitors to the farm and encourages interested individuals to plan visits around key farm activities. These activities include a two-dose product administration, review of quality assurance protocols certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and an evaluation of IC barrow market weight characteristics. Tours can be scheduled through local Zoetis representatives.

IMPROVEST, which is a veterinary prescription product, is relatively new to the U.S. market but has been used for more than a decade in more than 60 countries.

Volume:86 Issue:22

Hog industry stays armed for PEDV battle

Hog industry stays armed for PEDV battle

THE number of positive tests for porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) reported by the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) for the week ended May 10 was 187 weekly cases — the lowest since January.

Although the cases reported by NAHLN do not accurately account for the magnitude of PEDV losses in the U.S. hog industry, reports of new PEDV outbreaks appear to be dropping.

Dr. Paul Sundberg, National Pork Board (NPB) senior vice president of science and technology, told Feedstuffs that the active infection of PEDV currently is declining, but that was anticipated to occur as the temperature rises during the summer months.

While the trend for slightly fewer virus outbreaks is welcome news, the pork industry is not letting its guard down.

"The newest things we are working on and planning for this summer are to help keep the virus to a manageable level next winter, when the number (of PEDV cases) will come back up," Sundberg said.

Presently, NPB and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) are waiting on the final version of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's mandatory reporting program for PEDV and swine delta coronavirus.

Prior to USDA's April 18 announcement that it will require the mandatory reporting, NPPC and NPB participated in many discussions that included identifying different ways the agency could assist with the PEDV fight.

In fact, a PEDV strategic task force — which was formed more than a year ago and consists of representatives from NPPC, NPB, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, NAHLN, USDA, state animal health officials, state veterinarians and hog producers — reviewed information and provided valuable input, including submitting concerns about the mandatory reporting program.

In addition to mandating reporting, USDA also announced that it will require tracking of the movement of pigs, vehicles and other equipment leaving affected premises.

Across the industry, this news raised red flags and anxieties, especially in terms of the practical nature of prerequisites for hog producers who are already battling the virus.

From the beginning, the PEDV strategic task force had stressed to USDA that any program must be practical and workable for pork producers, Sundberg said.

"My concern is that the scope of such a project will (create an impasse to) the ability to do the tracking," he explained. "This will be a real issue if they (USDA) maintain their position to track equipment and animals."

Furthermore, Sundberg noted that USDA has objectives to improve biosecurity and herd health and maintain movement of animals across the country by instituting the mandatory reporting program.

The agency wants to gather information about the infection and location of the virus, as well as epidemiological information that will help with the investigation and, ultimately, in USDA's opinion, assist with the control of the disease.

"NPPC and NPB have no arguments with the objectives," Sundberg noted. "The concern is with the implementation of the program."

He added that it is clear that producers are nervous about the information USDA collects and the manner in which it will be recorded, analyzed and stored.

"We have said right from the start that it has to been done in a way that protects the producers' business interests," Sundberg explained. "The producers are not against sharing data. What they are against is how that information is going to be held secure."

Moreover, USDA needs to keep in mind that PEDV is not a regulatory disease, so it is important that the information collected will not have any regulatory consequences — such as movement restrictions — for producers, especially since they are willing to share their data.

If the finalized program becomes too burdensome for producers, then there could be some backlash. It is important not to jeopardize producers' and veterinarians' willingness to submit samples to laboratories, which could be an impediment to the program's objective.

"We hope USDA recognizes these risks and is able to address them," Sundberg said.

USDA is still finalizing how the reporting requirements will be structured, and the agency hopes to have additional information on the final reporting requirements available during the week of June 9.


Point of entry

According to Sundberg, the "6 million-dollar question" is how PEDV and swine delta coronavirus entered the U.S. in the first place. The industry is actively encouraging USDA to do everything it can to find that answer.

"The virus is not just here. It is in multiple other countries and showed up essentially, within reason, at the same time," Sundberg explained. "How that happened, what the window of opportunity is for these viruses and how to get that closed are extremely important issues that we are working with USDA to solve."

In addition, the industry is also conducting its own investigation of the viruses' pathway into the U.S., which is a large and key piece of the puzzle.

Volume:86 Issue:22

Featherless broilers perform better in heat

Featherless broilers perform better in heat

*Dr. William A. Dudley-Cash is a poultry and fish nutritionist and has his own consulting firm in Kamuela, Hawaii. To expedite answers to questions concerning this column, please direct inquiries to Feedstuffs, Bottom Line of Nutrition, 7900 International Dr., Suite 650, Bloomington, Minn. 55425, or email [email protected]

TREMENDOUS progress has been made in increasing broiler growth rates and meat yields. Broiler growth rates are driven by higher rates of feed intake and metabolism, and the result is elevated internal (metabolic) heat production.

Hot environmental conditions interfere with the dissipation of internally produced heat. Broilers adjust to hot conditions by reducing feed intake, and the result is a reduced growth rate and lower final bodyweight.

Feathers provide an insulating cover, which reduces the dissipation of internally produced heat. Modern commercial strains of broilers require low ambient temperatures to fully express their genetic potential for rapid growth. Featherless broilers presumably would perform better than feathered broilers in hot environmental temperatures.

Abbott and Asmundson (1957) reported a recessive mutation, called scaleless, that blocks feather formation in homozygous sc/sc chickens. The mutant gene was recently found to be fibroblast growth factor-20.

This spontaneous mutation was found in the New Hampshire breed, which has a substantially reduced growth rate compared with commercial broilers.

In the late 1970s, experimental featherless broilers were derived from a cross between the scaleless mutant and commercial broilers of that time. Under hot conditions, the growth rate and carcass composition of these featherless birds were superior to those of their feathered counterparts. However, these effects were small, because the growth rate of the birds in that study was very low. Based on these results, practical use of featherless broilers was not considered an option.

Y. Hadad et al. (2014) recently reported on the results of a study with featherless broilers from a new experimental population of featherless broilers that was initiated at the Hebrew University Faculty of Agriculture in 2002. Males from the original New Hampshire scaleless line (sc/sc) were mated with females from contemporary high-growth rate broiler stocks (+/+). The +/sc male progeny were repeatedly backcrossed to females from contemporary broiler stocks.

After one cycle of backcross, the featherless birds were markedly superior to their fully feathered and naked-neck siblings under hot conditions. After two additional cycles of backcross, the mean growth rate and bodyweight of the featherless broilers and their feathered siblings were further elevated but were still considerably lower than those of contemporary commercial broilers under normal (comfortable) ambient conditions.

However, under hot conditions in both studies, only the featherless broilers maintained normal body temperature, and consequently, their mean growth rates and final bodyweights were not depressed by heat, in contrast to the growth rates and final bodyweights of their feathered siblings and the contemporary commercial broilers.

Hadad et al. hypothesized that: (1) a lack of feathers contributes to higher breast muscle yields and better meat quality, particularly when broilers are reared under hot conditions, and (2) these differences are due, at least in part, to higher cardiovascular capacity.

The study reported in this paper consisted of two similar experiments. The birds used in both experiments were the progeny of intermating among sc/sc sires and +/sc dams. Thus, the progeny of each dam segregated into one-half featherless (homozygous sc/sc) and one-half normally feathered (heterozygous +/sc).

All birds from both genotypes/phenotypes shared the same average genetic background. The featherless parents of the birds in both trials were the progeny of four backcross cycles to fast-growing contemporary broiler stocks. Contemporary fast-growing commercial broilers were included in each experiment as an industry reference.

After hatch, male and female chicks from all groups were brooded intermingled on deep litter and were fed a commercial diet ad libitum. The brooding temperature started at 35 degrees C for the first three days after hatch, followed by a gradual reduction to 32 degrees C on day 11. On day 21, the broilers were assigned to two environmental temperatures: control at 26 degrees C (78.8 degrees F) and hot at 32 degrees C (89.6 degrees F). Relative humidity was about 70%.

In experiment 1, 60 random birds from each group — featherless, feathered and commercial — were divided equally between the two treatments and randomly assigned to individual cages.

At the end of the experiment on day 44, body temperature was measured by inserting a digital thermometer into the cloaca. The birds were individually weighed after 10 hours of feed withdrawal, killed (according to the rules of kosher slaughtering), plucked and eviscerated.

The carcasses of all birds, including the featherless birds, were free of downgrades. The carcasses were stored at 4 degrees C for 24 hours, after which breast muscles (pectoralis major and pectoralis minor) were removed from each carcass (by a single operator) and weighed. The sex of each bird was confirmed by the presence of ovaries or testicles, and the heart was removed and weighed.

The meat quality of the breast muscles was evaluated for color and drip loss. Color was measured using a Minolta spectrocolorimeter. To measure drip loss, the breast meat of each bird was packed in an individual plastic bag and stored for 48 hours at 4 degrees C. After storage, the deboned meat muscle was wiped of all excess fluids and weighed. The drip loss was calculated from the difference in meat weight before and after the 48-hour storage.

Experiment 2 was designed and conducted very much like experiment 1, with birds processed on days 47 and 54 of the experiment. In addition, blood was collected from selected birds on the day before processing (day 46 and day 53) for the measurement of blood hematocrit.

The results of experiment 1 are shown in the Table. For the control temperature treatment (26 degrees C), the commercial broilers were significantly heavier than the other two groups at the end of the experiment. The feathered birds, at 2,117 g, weighed 14% less than the commercial broilers at 2,446 g. The featherless broilers weighed about the same as their sibling-mate feathered broilers.

The results for the hot temperature treatment (32 degrees C) were much different. The featherless broilers, at 2,160 g, were significantly heavier than both their feathered siblings and the commercial broilers, at 1,828 g and 1,959 g, respectively. At the hot temperature, the feathered birds weighed 14% less than the weight they had achieved at the control temperature. The commercial broilers were affected even more by the hot temperature, with a decrease of 20% in weight from their performance in the control temperature environment. In contrast, the featherless broilers grew just as well in the hot temperature environment as in the control temperature environment (2,160 g versus 2,101 g).

Breast meat weight was pretty much a reflection of the bodyweight results. At the control temperature, the commercial broilers had the heaviest breast meat weight, although it was not significantly heavier than the breast meat weight of the featherless broilers. At the hot temperature, the breast meat weight of the commercial broilers was severely depressed and was significantly less than the breast meat weight of the featherless broilers.

Breast meat yield as a percent of bodyweight was significantly larger for the featherless broilers than the commercial broilers at both temperatures. Drip loss of the breast muscle yielded mixed results. At the control temperature, the percent drip loss was the same for the featherless and commercial broilers (3.87%). At the hot temperature, the drip loss for the featherless birds was significantly less than the drip loss for the commercial broilers (4.00% versus 6.08%).

The body temperature of the featherless birds was significantly less than both the feathered birds and the commercial birds at both environmental temperatures. Furthermore, while the body temperature numerically increased for both the feathered birds and the commercial birds when they were raised in the hot environment, the body temperature of the featherless birds was actually numerically lower in the hot environment.

The featherless birds had outstanding performance for heart weight and heart weight as a percent of bodyweight at both environmental temperatures. At the control temperature, the heart as a percent of total bodyweight was 0.63% for the featherless birds but was only 0.44% for the commercial birds. In the hot environment, the heart as a percent of bodyweight was 0.52% for the featherless birds versus 0.40% for the commercial birds.

The results for experiment 2 were very similar to the results for experiment 1. Hematocrit levels were measured in experiment 2. The mean hematocrit level of the featherless broilers was significantly higher than of the feathered sibling-mates, approximately 36% versus 31% and 30% versus 27% for the control and hot treatments, respectively. The commercial broilers had hematocrit values of about 28%.

The researchers concluded that featherless broilers performed better than feathered broilers — including commercial broilers — in hot environments. Bodyweight and breast meat weight, yield and quality were all better for the featherless broilers in the hot environment.

The researchers proposed that the higher meat yield and better meat quality of the featherless broilers could be attributed to their larger hearts and higher hematocrit levels, which result in a superior cardiovascular capacity to supply oxygen to the muscles.

In addition, nutrients directed to the feathers in feathered broilers are probably mobilized toward muscle growth and, consequently, increased meat production in the featherless birds.


The Bottom Line

New varieties of featherless broilers may be economically superior to feathered commercial broilers in geographic areas where the environmental temperature tends to be "hot." Perhaps at locations that often reach 90 degrees F and above, featherless broilers are a practical option.



Hadad, Y., O. Halevy and A. Cahaner. 2014. Featherless and feathered broilers under control versus hot conditions. 1. Breast meat yield and quality. Poult. Sci. 93:1067-1075.


Results, experiment 1


-Control, 26 degrees C (78.8 degrees F)-

-Hot, 32 degrees C (89.6 degrees F)-

Trial 1, to 44 days of age














Slaughter bodyweight, g







Breast meat, g







Breast meat, % of bodyweight







Drip loss, %







Body temperature, degrees C







Heart, g







Heart, % of bodyweight







a,b,cGroup means compared within 26 degrees C treatment; those means with different superscripts are significantly different (P < 0.05).

x,yGroup means compared within 32 degrees C treatment; those means with different superscripts are significantly different (P < 0.05).


Volume:86 Issue:22

Consumer trust in corporate America grows

Consumer trust in corporate America grows

WHILE Americans remain fairly skeptical about the reputation of corporate America, the gap appears to be narrowing between skepticism and confidence in corporations, according to a recently released Harris Poll conducted by Harris Interactive.

"A Survey of the U.S. General Public Using the Reputation Quotient (RQ)" found that only 20% of consumers believe the overall reputation of corporate America has improved, but that still has more than doubled from 9% just two years ago. The number of hard-core skeptics of corporate America dropped 14% from a year ago and 42% from five years ago (Figure 1).

Nine companies achieved RQ scores above 80, which is considered the standard of excellence. This is three more than in 2013. Equally telling was that the poll found, for the first time since 2007, that no company achieved an RQ score of below 50, the score at which a company's reputation is considered to be in critical shape.

The companies most liked and trusted by consumers taking part in the poll were technology firms. Only 5% of consumers said they had negative views of the technology sector, while 1% were neutral on the industry and 80% had positive views, making it the most trusted industry.

Among the opportunities and challenges confronting corporations were those related to data management and corporate conduct. The Harris Poll found that more than three-quarters of the general public is concerned about the amount of private information companies capture about their customers. Less than half trust that companies will act responsibly with private data.

Only 31% indicated that they learn company information via social media tools, and only 17% actually trust this information more than they do information from other sources.

At the same time, though, the poll showed that nearly six in 10 consumers say they research companies before doing business with them, and the same proportion generally decide not to do business with a company based on something they learned about the company's conduct. Nearly five in 10 consumers proactively tried to influence the perceptions of their friends and family as well.

The 2014 poll found that, for the first time in more than a decade, investors were more often positive about corporate America's reputation.

From 2013 to 2014, Monsanto and McDonald's each dropped back by 4.4 RQ points. The only food/agricultural company to move up in RQ score was Chick-Fil-A, which rose by 7.0 RQ points (Figure 2).

Costco and Whole Foods were the only food/agricultural companies to earn "excellent" RQ scores of 80 or more for 2014. Whole Foods was singled out for its vision and leadership, while Costco earned its high marks based on workplace environment.

Harris Interactive has conducted the Harris Poll RQ survey since 1999 as a means of measuring the corporate reputation of the 60 most visible companies in the U.S. The annual study involves a two-step process that begins with a nominations phase and is followed by a ratings phase, during which the reputation of the companies is measured.

The 2014 survey was conducted during the Dec. 23, 2013, to Jan. 6, 2014, period and involved online polling of 14,055 people.

Consumer trust in corporate America grows

Volume:86 Issue:22