World-first chicken meat research consortium forms

Grain Central, May 29, 2023

A broiler shed in Victoria. Photo: Hazeldenes

A RESEARCH project to investigate how Australian chicken-meat producers can use nutrition to optimise gut health, animal welfare, and sustainability outcomes has been announced this week.

Entitled Sustainable Precision Feeding in Broiler Chickens in Australia , the project is led by The University of Queensland. and also involves the University of Sydney, Massey University, Central Queensland University and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

AgriFutures Australia is one of the key funders of the project, which involves nine top international universities and six global poultry industry leaders including Aviagen, DSM, Lallemand, Lucta, and Metex Noovistago.

AgriFutures Chicken Meat Program senior manager Amanda Olthof said the program is investing in research, development and extension to improve the sustainability, productivity, and viability of the Australian chicken meat industry.

The sector already accounts for nearly half of Australia’s domestic meat consumption, contributes nearly $3 billion to the national economy, and employs more than 58,000 people.

“Growing an already big industry requires big thinking,” Ms Olthof said.

“By increasing the scale and scope of nutrition research, and fostering close collaboration between Australian and global chicken meat researchers and industry partners. the project will drive greater impact for this important industry.”

“We’ve had really strong support from across the poultry research space,” project director and UQ Professor Eugeni Roura said.

“At last count, we have 48 scientists signed on, eager to collaborate and bring their unique expertise, skills, and backgrounds together to deliver the biggest nutrition-driven research program the chicken meat industry here, or internationally, has seen in recent times.”

“This is a never-before-seen opportunity to connect industry and academia – from here and abroad – to address some key challenges facing poultry producers,” Prof Roura said.

“While our primary focus is on Australia, the challenges we face are shared right across the global chicken meat industry.”

“By harnessing the ambition of AgriFutures and the broader Australian poultry industry, the project has a unique opportunity to deliver solutions that drive further production, environment, and animal welfare outcomes for Australia’s most popular meat.”

The project will tackle key questions including:

  • How can we influence nutrition in parent birds to improve health and production outcomes in future generations?
  • How can we improve the digestibility of locally grown high-protein feed grains to reduce the industry’s reliance on imported soybean?
  • Could we implement a lower-protein diet yet maintain health and production?
  • What impact do these nutritional changes have on gut health, and consequently, the environment in which broiler chickens are raised?
  • How do we turn these research outcomes into actionable insights for producers?

The project will train 10 PhD students,  foster 19 early-mid career researchers, and organise four satellite symposia with international collaborators.

It will also sponsor 10 industry-placement programs for students and EMCRs, and add more than 20 new scientific publications to boost current understanding of chicken nutrition.

Source: AgriFutures Australia


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