Family gatherings and elaborate holiday meals are on the horizon and it’s beginning to look like turkey demand is going to be higher than the available supply. Labor issues and high grain prices have challenged producers all year making it more important than ever to achieve high animal performance from inputs such as turkey feed. Anitox Technical Director, Jose Ramirez, took some time to comment on how feed quality helps producers maximize feed conversion and bird weight gain.
Assessed via feed conversion rates and body weight gain, turkey performance relies heavily on the absorption of nutrients from feed. While gut health and digestions play a big role, managing performance limiting factors within feed is essential to turkey production. For more information access our guide below.
Turkeys, same as other meat birds, require high-quality feed to grow efficiently. Feed quality is dependent on numerous factors, however, pellet quality, moisture content and microbial load can all be considered performance limiting factors of turkey feed. These factors fit into two major considerations for feed and turkey producers:
Birds are naturally predisposed to select pellets over feed fines, which is good because pellets offer something feed fines never will – nutrient uniformity. Picture this – you are standing in a line with a group of friends sharing a bag of potato chips. The first friend opens the bag and takes a share before passing it along. Each person takes a share of chips. If you were to examine the bowls you would see that with each person the chip sizes are reduced, with only crumbs remaining in the last bowl. This same thing can happen with pelleted feed as it moves through the mill and farm feeders, resulting in birds being delivered different nutrient quantities, and causing different growth rates throughout the flock. Flock uniformity is critical for an efficient poultry processing operation and market positioning of the product.
Feed as a Fomite
Pathogens such as Salmonella, E. coli, Clostridia and Avian Influenza can survive in feed. The presence of these pathogens within feed creates an opportunity for gut colonization. Feed pathogens are opportunistic. They lie in wait for conditions optimal to proliferate, such as a shift in the microflora in response to bird stress.
What Tools Are Available to Maximize Your Feed Investment?
Milling Efficiency Aids
Surfactant-based milling efficiency products help lock in feed moisture, increase pellet quality and durability, balance nutrients within the formula, optimize conditioning, improve throughput and reduce the energy required to make feed. Meeting pellet quality standards and moisture targets is always critical to feed efficiency, but even more so when ingredient costs are high. Moisture is critical to nutrient homogeneity but also increases total feed weight, making ingredients stretch just a bit further.
Feed Pathogen Control
Pathogen-free feed improves bird performance by reducing the prevalence of pathogens within live production and preventing gut disruption by pathogenic bacteria. This impact is two-fold – healthy birds reach their full growth potential and feed degradation is prevented. Several studies have shown the capability of feed as a fomite for pathogens. For example, Dr. Shariat found through her CRISPR work that in two separate trials that approximately 15% and 9% of samples were Salmonella positive, and several of the serotypes found were considered human health risks. Feed pathogen control not only promotes efficient turkey production but also food safety.
For more information on how to maximize your turkey feed investment, check out our Guide to Pathogen Control in Turkeys, or if you are ready to discuss implementing feed sanitizers as part of your feed pathogen control program, speak to an expert today.