VIDEO: Microbiome data utilized for broiler performance

Find out what Land O’Lakes’ Peter Karnezos believes broiler producers can learn from the flock's microbiome.

Land O’Lakes senior director of feed additive research Peter Karnezos explores what can be learned from screening a flock’s microbiome

New technologies, predictive modeling and understanding of the broiler microbiome can allow nutritionists and veterinarians to predict flock performance and intervene as soon as a problem occurs, improving performance and profitability.

Peter Karnezos, Land O’Lakes’ senior director for additives research and product development, joins the Chat to discuss how the microbiome is being utilized to identify poultry production challenges early on and how this data is being used to change outcomes.

How microbiome data can be utilized to improve broiler performance from WATT Global Media on Vimeo.

Transcription of Feed Strategy Chat with Peter Karnezos, senior director of feed additive research, Land O’Lakes

Jackie Roembke, editor in chief, WATT Feed Brands/Feed Strategy: Hi, everyone. Welcome to Feed Strategy Chat. I’m your host, Jackie Roembke, editor in chief of WATT Feed Brands and Feed Strategy magazine.

This edition of Feed Strategy Chat is brought to you by WATT Global Media and is your source for the latest news and leading-edge analysis of the global animal feed industry.

Today we are joined on Zoom by Peter Karnezos, Land O’ Lakes’ senior director for additives research and product development. Peter is here to discuss how the microbiome is being utilized to identify poultry production challenges.

Hi Peter, how are you?

Peter Karnezos, Land O’Lakes’ senior director for additives research and product development: Morning, Jackie. Happy New Year.

Roembke: Yes, Happy New Year to you. Well, let’s get right in to it. As it relates to broiler health and productivity, when you examine the microbiome of a bird, what are you looking for exactly?

Karnezos: What are you looking for really depends on what we want to learn about the current state of a flock’s gut health as indicated by its microbiome, in relation to its future and current performance.

Now, realizing, obviously, that the microbiome is collection of microbiota, at any time a sampling is giving us just a snapshot or a window into the diversity of this gut complex ecosystem. Now, that diversity and complexity will depend on a number of factors, for example, genetics of the bird, the age, its diet, the environment, etc. However, research shows that there’s a significant amount of flux for change in the microbiome. From day of hatch through to about 21 days of age, when the microbiome becomes mature as the gut matures, and the diversity and complexity is at its highest.

With that sort of background and understanding of what to expect with changes within the microbiome, we’re able then to establish what we call microbiome benchmarks. And these benchmarks are essentially the state of being of the microbiome in relation to what we expect the state of being to be.

Let me give you an example of why this is important. So if the microbiome of a 21-day-old boiler looks like the microbiome profile of a 14-day-old breeder, research would indicate that those birds within that flock will perform significantly worse than birds with a more mature microbiome. Obviously, that impacts the product, the performance and outcome of that flock.

The other aspect of the microbiome analysis that we look for, is what is the presence of different pathogens? Or what is the changes or indicators within the microbiome, that are leading that microbiome toward a disease state? And thereby provides us the capability of intervening.

Feed Strategy Conference | “Utilizing the microbiome to identify poultry production challenges: A mechanism to develop performance strategies,” presented by Peter Karnezos:

Roembke: What can nutritionists do with that information to help improve performance?

Karnezos: The one thing to note is that the microbiome composition or description provides insights not only for the nutritionist, but also for veterinarians as a means to predict the performance of the birds — either in terms of their performance or health outcome that also provides a basis for prescriptive interventions.

For example, they may look at the targeted use of an antibiotic or alternatives to antibiotics like phytogenic, pre- and probiotics, the medium-chain fatty acids, or acidifiers or combinations of those. And furthermore, the advantage to the nutritionist and veterinarian can be the use of the microbiome, to objectively evaluate interventions on the state of the being of the microbiome and its position within that microbiome ecosystem, and thereby providing a very objective way for nutritionists or veterinarians to test and evaluate products, which can be difficult within a production environment.

Roembke: Thank you. Based on what we’ve discussed so far, please provide an example of the application of microbiome research and the potential returns it could deliver to producers.

Karnezos: So Jackie, one of the things that’s happening within poultry production is that management decisions are being driven more and more by data, artificial intelligence, the use of predictive models. And then so the value of objective measures of gut health via microbiome profile reduces the risks associated with decision-making at the production environment.

For example, if you screen that microbiome across complexes and flocks, and use the information against established benchmarks, one can determine which flocks are lagging behind their predictive performance in relation to the established benchmark and those flocks that are going to meet or exceed the benchmark provides data and information for the nutritionist or the veterinarian to intervene on those blocks that are falling behind the predictive benchmark. Thereby enabling the veterinarian and nutritionist to intervene and raise the productivity of the whole complex, thereby improving the profitability of their companies.

Roembke: Thank you so much. And if you would like to hear more insights from Peter, and you’ll be at IPPE 2022, please consider joining us at the Feed Strategy Conference, held on January 25. Here, Peter will be presenting his talk called, “Utilizing the microbiome to identify poultry production challenges: a mechanism to develop performance strategies.”

For more information about the Feed Strategy Conference, please visit our website at to register. Thank you so much, Peter, and thanks to you for tuning in.

Karnezos: Thank you, Jackie, and appreciate the opportunity.