Animal Nutrition Views
Ioannis Mavromichalis, Ph.D., gives his views on poultry, pig and dairy nutrition based on his experience as a nutrition consultant with clients around the world.
Most producers use the generic dietary specifications provided generously by genetic houses, but these are not the last word on the subject.
Broiler genetic suppliers often provide, free of charge, dietary specifications that are supposed to represent their hybrids in terms of requirements. The origin of these recommendations are difficult to discern, especially for some nutrients that make little sense if they differ slightly (such as vitamins and trace minerals, which are always supplied over bare requirements). It is generally considered in the field that all these dietary specifications are generous enough to avoid getting these genetic suppliers in trouble if and when something goes wrong — and in our business, when something goes wrong, feed is the first to blame.
Regardless of whether dietary specifications provided by genetic suppliers require revisiting is the topic of another discussion. Here, we will accept that they are the outcome of highly experienced nutritionists who envision the best in terms of broiler performance. With this starting point, it is then the responsibility of the local nutritionist to adapt these levels to suit the specific circumstances in each farm.
Examples abound. First, we need to consider the issue of antibiotic reduction schemes that require a totally different nutritional approach. Second, we can discuss the topic of temperature and humidity, which differ by location and require constant adaptation to ensure maximal bird comfort and performance. Third, we can highlight the issue of using local ingredients that can contain excessive or deficient levels of certain nutrients (most often vitamins and trace minerals) that are usually taken for granted. The list can go on.
Lamentably, local nutrition professionals shy away from assuming such responsibility, which often results in a less expensive but, in their view, less traditional feeds due to aversion of risk. Whether such an approach is sustainable in the long term is reflected by the rapid turnover of broiler producers that default as they focus on finding less expensive nutrition suppliers before they establish their actual feed requirements.