Poultry Research Facility Poultry Research Facility

Poultry Research Facility

Our Poultry Research Facility in Spain’s Castilla-la Macha region has a unique location, close to the capital city of Madrid, and enough space to house more than 14,000 chickens! The facility includes seven different types of barns dedicated to broilers, rearing pullets and laying hens. Due to the increased importance of transparency in livestock production, all the facilities include bio-secured visitor areas providing views of the operations.

Unique experimental feed plant on location

The Poultry Research Facility has its own experimental feed plant, enabling us to produce all of the feed we use on location. This makes it possible to study a high variety of experimental diets and saves significant CO2-equivalent emissions from transport. All of the feed bags are precisely weighed before they are moved to the facility and colour coded to differentiate treatments.

Facilities for laying hens

The facility for laying hens can house over 1,500 hens and enables us to intensively monitor animal health and performance. Some pens are specifically designed to study the split-feeding concept, in which we provide a different feed composition to the laying hens in the morning and in the evening, to more precisely meet the nutrient requirements of hens during the egg formation cycle. This is a great example of sustainable precision nutrition, leading to better laying hen performance and reduced emissions of nitrogen and phosphorus into the environment. The laying hens’ facility enables us to fully control the environment and simulate different circumstances around the globe. We can study important animal measures such as feed and water intake, body weight and excreta composition, as well as shell and egg quality.

The hatchery

The hatchery allows us to monitor chicks right after hatching and study the effects of gender, genetics, fasting and immediate feed availability. This study is part of the LifeStart project, based on the philosophy that what happens during the first days of a chick’s life impacts its lifetime performance.

Broiler facilities

The broiler facilities can house over 6,000 birds, in a barn where the climate can be fully controlled. One of the studies performed in these facilities relates to our broiler model, which calculates feed costs, revenues and margin by predicting growth, FCR and carcass yield. Our feed additives portfolio has also been extensively studied at these facilities.

Climate-controlled research now possible

Our latest addition to the Poultry Research Facility, constructed in 2020, is a new climate-controlled poultry facility, with four identical research rooms that enable us to simulate contrasting environmental conditions and evaluate different solutions under either normal or more challenging scenarios. You can read more about this unit here.

The opportunity for visitors – including farmers, academics, and other researchers – to visit the facility and understand how research informs our solutions brings a new level of transparency to stakeholders across the feed-to-food chain.
Ana Isabel Garcia Ruiz – Manager Poultry Research Centre

Related stories

Effect of L-glutamic acid N,N-diacetic acid on the availability of dietary zinc in broiler chickens

Chelating agents can be used to improve the nutritional availability of trace minerals within the gastrointestinal tract. This study was conducted to determine the effect of a novel chelating agents, L-glutamic acid N,N-diacetic acid (GLDA), a biodegradable alternative to ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid on the nutritional bioavailability of zinc in broilers. Twelve dietary treatments were allocated to 96 pens in a randomized block design. Pens contained 10 Ross 308 male broilers in a factorial design with 6 incremental zinc levels (40, 45, 50, 60, 80, and 120 ppm of total Zn), with and without inclusion of GLDA (0 and 100 ppm) as respective factors. Experimental diets were supplied from day 7 to 21/22 and serum, liver and tibia Zn content were determined in 3 birds per pen. Growth performance and liver characteristics were not affected by dietary treatments, but both supplemental Zn and GLDA enhanced tibia and serum zinc concentration. The positive effect of GLDA was observed at all levels of the dietary Zn addition. The amount of zinc needed to reach 95% of the asymptotic Zn response was determined using nonlinear regression. When GLDA was included in the diet, based on tibia Zn, the same Zn status was achieved with a 19 ppm smaller Zn dose while based on serum Zn this was 27 ppm less Zn. Dietary GLDA reduces supplemental Zn needs to fulfill nutritional demands as defined by tibia Zn and serum Zn response. Considering the positive effect on the nutritional availability of Zn in broilers, GLDA presents an opportunity as biodegradable additive, to reduce Zn supplementation to livestock and thereby reducing Zn excretion into the environment, while fulfilling the nutrition Zn needs of farmed animals.
by G. M. Boerboom on 04/02/2021
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Efficacy of l-glutamic acid, N,N-diacetic acid to improve the dietary trace mineral bioavailability in broilers

Trace minerals are commonly supplemented in the diets of farmed animals in levels exceeding biological requirements, resulting in extensive fecal excretion and environmental losses. Chelation of trace metal supplements with ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) can mitigate the effects of dietary antagonists by preserving the solubility of trace minerals. Lack of EDTA biodegradability, however, is of environmental concern. l-Glutamic acid, N,N-diacetic acid (GLDA) is a readily biodegradable chelating agent that could be used as a suitable alternative to EDTA. The latter was tested in sequential dose–response experiments in broiler chickens. Study 1 compared the effect of EDTA and GLDA in broilers on supplemental zinc availability at three levels of added zinc (5, 10, and 20 ppm) fed alone or in combination with molar amounts of GLDA or EDTA equivalent to chelate the added zinc, including negative (no supplemental zinc) and positive (80 ppm added zinc) control treatments. Study 2 quantified the effect of GLDA on the availability of native trace mineral feed content in a basal diet containing no supplemental minerals and supplemented with three levels of GLDA (54, 108, and 216 ppm). In study 1, serum and tibia Zn clearly responded to the increasing doses of dietary zinc with a significant response to the presence of EDTA and GLDA (P < 0.05). These results are also indicative of the equivalent nutritional properties between GLDA and EDTA. In study 2, zinc levels in serum and tibia were also increased with the addition of GLDA to a basal diet lacking supplemental trace minerals, where serum zinc levels were 60% higher at the 216 ppm inclusion level. Similar to the reported effects of EDTA, these studies demonstrate that dietary GLDA may have enhanced zinc solubility in the gastrointestinal tract and subsequently enhanced availability for absorption, resulting in improved nutritional zinc status in zinc-deficient diets. As such, GLDA can be an effective nutritional tool to reduce supplemental zinc levels in broiler diets, thereby maintaining health and performance while reducing the environmental footprint of food-producing animals.
by G. M. Boerboom on 04/02/2021
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Organic Acids as Alternatives for Antibiotic Growth Promoters Alter the Intestinal Structure and Microbiota and Improve the Growth Performance in Broilers

The present study aimed to investigate the effects of organic acids (OA) as alternatives for antibiotic growth promoters (AGP) on growth performance, intestinal structure, as well as intestinal microbial composition and short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) profiles in broilers. A total of 336 newly hatched male Arbor Acres broiler chicks were randomly allocated into 3 dietary treatments including the basal diet [negative control (NC)], the basal diet supplemented with 5 mg/kg flavomycin, and the basal diet supplemented with OA feed additives. Each treatment had eight replicates with 14 birds each. The results showed that AGP and OA promoted growth during day 22–42 compared with the NC group (P < 0.05). OA significantly increased the jejunal goblet cell density and ileal villus height on day 42 compared with the NC group (P < 0.05). Meanwhile, OA up-regulated the mRNA expression of jejunal barrier genes (Claudin-3 and ZO-1) relative to the NC group (P < 0.05). Significant changes of microbiota induced by the OA were also found on day 42 (P < 0.05). Several SCFAs-producing bacteria like Ruminococcaceae, Christensenellaceae, and Peptococcaceae affiliated to the order Clostridiales were identified as biomarkers of the OA group. Higher concentrations of SCFAs including formic acid and butyric acid were observed in the cecum of OA group (P < 0.05). Simultaneously, the abundance of family Ruminococcaceae showed highly positive correlations with the body weight and mRNA level of ZO-1 on day 42 (P < 0.05). However, AGP supplementation had the higher mRNA expression of Claudin-2, lower goblet cell density of jejunum, and decreased Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio, suggesting that AGP might have a negative impact on intestinal immune and microbiota homeostasis. In conclusion, the OA improved growth performance, intestinal morphology and barrier function in broilers, which might be attributed to the changes of intestinal microbiota, particularly the enrichment of SCFAs-producing bacteria, providing a more homeostatic and healthy intestinal microecology.
by Dai D. on 13/01/2021
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