Highly performing genetics, high density housing and stressful environment are only a few factors that farm animals are intensely challenged, making them very sensitive to the slightest disturbance. Thus, the control of their environment is important to maintain the sanitary balance and proper welfare conditions.
Moisture in the environment is a fertile ground for the development of pathogens and predisposes animals to sanitary problems. This is also the main factor responsible for the production of ammonia at the origin of most respiratory diseases.
There are two main factors that have a direct impact on the production performance; feed efficiency and digestive welfare. A decreased feed consumption with a maintained technical performance is of economic interest for the producer. Indeed, a better use of the feed by the animals means fewer needs in the raw materials and also less environmental rejections.
At the digestive level, a better feed efficiency also means less undigested feed available for bacterial growth and thus a better functioning digestive tract. Digestive welfare takes part of the global well-being of the animals, but also contributes to better technical performance. Whether they are from dietary or pathogenic origin, digestive troubles negatively impact young animals’ performance, delaying their growth throughout the entire cycle and damaging their digestive system. In the end, animals affected by digestive troubles will have a poorer digestive efficiency, thus poorer performance.
Non-starch polysaccharides (NSP), commonly called dietary fibres are not digested by poultry due to the absence of NSP enzymes. These fibers lower feed digestibility by encapsulating useful nutrients and increasing the viscosity of the intestinal content.
Under intensive production circumstances found in most of today’s facilities, health of the animals has become one of the most important factors to consider if optimum production efficiency is the ultimate goal. Inflammatory and immune responses due to stress and pathogenic challenges requires a lot of energy from the animal, thus reducing the metabolizable energy available for growth and production. In cases like this, it is very important to ensure that all production animals consist over a healthy and strengthened immune system in order to reduce the energy required to handle extra stress full periods like transfer and vaccination, ultimately reducing the risk of pathogenic out-break and the subsequent need for antibiotic uses and loss of production.
The breeder facility in any operation is possibly the most important part of the whole production chain. Ensuring that the breeder birds receive optimum nutrition, allowing them the opportunity to produce to their full genetic potential, can result in maximum profitability for any enterprise.
It has been proved that day-old broiler chicks that are hatched from hens that were fed a well-balanced diet, performed better than chicks hatched from hens that were fed a diet, unbalanced in one or more nutrients. Reduced fertility and hatchability of eggs from breeders that are fed an unbalanced diet can result in less chicks per hen-housed as well as less first grade chicks available.
The importance of mineral deficiencies is easily overlooked and a shortage, of specifically selenium, can have a detrimental effect on broiler breeder fertility, which can lead to severe economic losses.