WSPA conference round-up

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At this year's WPSA annual meeting at Birmingham ICC, there were a range of industry relevant topics covered from submitted papers and invited speakers. We'd like to share highlights from a couple of the topics.

Nutritional sensitivity of poultry gut microbiome 
Filip Van Immersal, Professor, Ghent University
The microbial composition in a bird’s GIT consists not only of beneficial bacteria such as butyrate-producing anaerobic bacteria, but also potentially harmful microbiota such as the Enterobacteriaceae family. Reasons for shifts in microbiota can be caused by dietary origin such as poorly digestible components, change of feed form and/or infectious diseases. Prof. dr. Van Immerseel began his presentation by discussing dysbiosis, a shift in microbial composition away from the normal conditions which can lead to shortening intestinal villi and inflammation, which can further lead to performance loss due to reduced absorption.
Prof. dr. Van Immerseel further went on to discuss ways in which a bird's diet can be modified to positively influence the microbiota. One such strategy is the inclusion of probiotics in feed which facilitate the addition of “good” bacteria into the birds’ diet and gastrointestinal tract. There are multiple strains of probiotics which, depending on the strain, have a range of described mechanisms of action, including but not limited to competitive exclusion and production of anti-microbial molecules. In addition to this, prebiotics were also discussed, these non-digestible saccharides can be used as a substrate for specific microbial populations to aid the growth of beneficial microbes.
These are just a few examples of feeding strategies that can be taken to help boost the bird's gut health; it is important to highlight nutritional strategies should be used as part of a holistic approach in maintaining intestinal health and optimising cost-effective performance.
The relationship between ammonia emissions and the dry matter of broiler litter and hen manure 
M. E. E. Ball(a), C. C. Mulvenna(a), R. Ramsey(b), and Y. Devlin(b)
(a)Livestock Production Sciences Branch; (b)Agri-Environment Branch, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, UK
This very relevant topic of emission reduction explored how the dry matter of litter impacted on farm ammonia emissions.
Excess nitrogen is excreted in the form of uric acid, which is converted into urea and then volatised into ammonia. The volatilisation is factor dependent, of which litter/manure dry matter is one of the key drivers on farm. The study investigated the quantification of this previously recognised relationship between manure/litter DM and a reduction in ammonia emissions.
The findings suggest the relationship equates to a 9.5% reduction in ammonia emissions for every 5% additional dry matter (DM) in a commercial poultry system. In addition to this, significant decreases were found in carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions when DM was increased.
Without a doubt there are additional reasons we aim to maintain dry litter, for example to improve welfare parameters such as pododermatitis and hock burns, and supporting an optimised environment for bird performance. But this is potentially something to add to the toolbox of ways in which emissions can be minimised and bird welfare optimised.  

If you would like any additional information or clarification, please do not hesitate to contact any of our poultry team.