Insect meal is quickly becoming a popular alternative protein source for both humans and poultry, but it comes with a host of both benefits and drawbacks. On the plus side, insect meal can be produced en masse with a relatively low land-use impact, and insects can be fed a wide range of substrate materials that are not suitable for livestock. On the other hand, regulations around insect meal are not up-to-date, and the demand also currently outweighs the supply. Will insect meal make an impact as a new protein source, and can it be used effectively in commercial poultry production?
Data-driven agriculture is becoming the new norm, and data is increasingly being incorporated into poultry production. The Global Innovation Exchange is a research partnership between the University of Washington, Tsinghua University and Microsoft, a leader in the creation of data-driven software, to encourage graduates to develop innovative technologies. Graduates have developed an audio machine learning program, CluckAI. This program uses listening devices to monitor flock sounds and harnesses analytical algorithms to create alerts.
Antibiotic resistance has the potential to become one of the greatest challenges of our generation due to the ever-increasing rise in bacterial strains that are less and less sensitive to existing treatments. A drawback to the use of antibiotics is their non-specific effects on the gut microbiome. In fact, their use can lead to a reduction in overall gut microfloral diversity, allowing for the continued proliferation of resistant species. This can have negative impacts on both health and performance.
Antibiotic development for the masses began in the 1920s, and by the 1950s, studies began revealing concerns about the development of antibiotic resistance. However, resistance genes in bacteria have been around for millions of years, long before antibiotics were widely used. In a poultry flock, a “resistome” exists for both the flock as a whole and for individual birds. If resistance genes encourage multiple resistance for different antibiotics, treatments may not be as effective for the flock.
With the USDA projecting that Americans will consume 94 pounds of chicken per person this year alone, food safety remains at the forefront of U.S. and international industry concerns. Which critical control points should producers be monitoring for domestic consumption and exportation? How can we protect poultry from major pathogens like Campylobacter and Salmonella without using antibiotics? And if antibiotics are needed, what can be done to reduce resistance and make them more effective?
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