Conference draws attention to the importance of intestinal functions

The Poultry Beyond 2020 Conference was recently held at the spectacular Skyline Conference Centre in Queenstown, New Zealand. Some 120 professionals, from feed and poultry companies, research institutes and universities across the globe, met to discuss the science and technology required to keep up with the demand for poultry meat over the next five to ten years.

This was the fifth conference in a series organised by the New Zealand Poultry Industry Association. Conferences are held every 4 to 5 years and attendance is by invitation only. “This conference series has a very good reputation for presenting up to date scientific information related to poultry nutrition and for covering both applied and blue-sky sides of poultry science and technology in a most unbiased manner”, said Professor Mingan Choct, CEO of Poultry CRC.

This year’s conference certainly upheld the reputation of the series. It covered a variety of topics pertinent to efficient poultry production in the future.

This article is not going to reiterate all the papers presented at the conference, rather it will highlight one prominent feature of the conference, that is, the focus on the basics of gut physiology and functions. For instance, Professors Margie Lee from University of Georgia, Roger Lentle from Massey University, and Hank Classen from University of Saskatchewan spoke, respectively, on the role of microbial diversity, the actions of the avian gizzard, and functions of the crop in relation to bird health and performance. “The poultry industry is probably the most advanced animal enterprise and there has been massive productivity gain in the industry via the use of conventional genetic selection, state-of-the-art nutritional management and meticulous animal husbandry”, said Professor Ravi Ravindran of Massey University, New Zealand, who was the organiser of the scientific program and editor of the proceedings. “Further gain, however, will be more difficult as feed ingredients are becoming more diverse and some of the tools used in the industry are slowing disappearing. Thus, we need to revisit and examine the roles of the gastrointestinal tract in more detail in order to keep a healthy functioning gut”.

Indeed gut health is a hot topic today in poultry science but practical strategies to maintain a good gut health are not easy to implement. It will not only require an in-depth understanding of the roles of various digestive and immune organs, but also the composition and functions of the gut microbiota under various circumstances.  The Poultry CRC has a number of projects related to gut health and nutrition, which can be found in our eChook newsletter archive.

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