AFBI seminar highlights advances in poultry research

A highly informative and enjoyable poultry seminar was recently hosted by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), at its Hillsborough research centre in Co. Down.

The research-focussed event brought together poultry industry specialists from across Northern Ireland to hear about and discuss the latest advances taking place in the AFBI poultry development programme.

Prof. Trevor Gilliland welcomed around 50 delegates to the seminar and set the scene for the programme which was chaired by Claire Anderson from the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).

Dr. Elizabeth Ball (AFBI Hillsborough) began the technical proceedings with a presentation entitled “Sustainable Poultry Research”.

Dr. Ballmsummarised her recent work on determining the nutrient content of poultry litter and manure, the results of which are currently being used to inform revisions to the Nitrates Action Programme.

Elizabeth also presented research findings on sustainable protein nutrition, the enrichment of eggs with folate and outlined newly initiated large-scale studies on ammonia and phosphorus.

Prof. Nicolae Corcionivoschi, one of AFBI’s food microbiologists, presented “Antimicrobials and the Poultry Gut Microbiome” along with a comprehensive background of the relevance of his work to the poultry industry.

He outlined some of the work of his team in the area and discussed how a better understanding of how to manipulate the gut microbiome is key to operating within the constraints of reduced antibiotic usage.

AFBI’s recently appointed welfare specialist, Dr. Stephanie Buijs, also gave an informative presentation entitled “Monitoring Poultry Welfare and Behaviour”.

Dr. Buijs summarised her work on laying hens and broilers throughout her career in Europe and at the University of Bristol and presented interesting behavioural studies which highlighted the need for sound science to inform welfare decisions.

The seminar concluded with a keynote presentation on “Electronic feeding systems for poultry” by Prof. Martin Zuidhof from the University of Alberta, Canada.

Zuidhof, along with his colleague, Mark Fedorak (Xanantec Technologies Inc), presented a summary of the challenges and many benefits of offering feed at an individual bird level to meet production targets and provide optimum nutrition.

This topic proved of great interest to the industry delegates and AFBI will be collaborating with the pair going forward to ensure the Northern Ireland poultry industry can avail of this ‘next generation’ technology to advance productivity in an environmentally sustainable manner.