In the sector of Traditional Turkey farming, the challenge is to support the growth and wellbeing of a wide range of breeds, each with a genetic potential preserved to deliver a familiar outcome generation after generation, where growth efficiency is secondary to the eating experience at Christmas.
However traditional the management and processing of the Traditional Farm Fresh bird may be, the application of modern technologies can play a role in the safety, quality and efficiency of production.
Andrew Fothergill, National Poultry Advisor for ForFarmers UK, explains the real benefits different ingredients and additives have when applied as part of Traditional Turkey feed to get the best out of Christmas Turkeys.
Research has shown that some natural feed ingredients and additives can help reduce establishment of pathogenic bacteria in the intestine, and help ensure Gut Health of the bird is optimised, especially when reducing antibiotic and medicinal use.
Yeast cell walls are an interesting candidate, comments Andrew. They can be processed in such a way as to present surface binding sites for pathogens such as E Coli, who are tricked into attaching to the yeast rather the intestine. The bacteria are then passed out in the faeces and as they do not attach to the intestine do not have the opportunity to damage the bird. Alternatively, yeast cell walls can be processed to optimise the presentation of B glucans to the bird’s immune system. The immune system then recognises the bacteria and responds with a heightened state of readiness for any real pathogenic challenge.
Some natural feed additives have antimicrobial properties, including plant extracts such as oregano oil, which have been reported to have some protection against bacteria and protozoa. This is of particular interest as it can support the bird during challenges such as blackhead, where medicines to treat this infection are no longer licensed for use.
Betaine, extracted from sugar beet, is another important ingredient used in ForFarmers’ Traditional Turkey Range Diets. It can help the intestinal cells remain optimally hydrated and form a tight barrier against any pathogens attempting to cross the intestinal wall. “This barrier must be maintained securely as a primary line of defence, and therefore applying Betaine in the diets is essential to maintaining good bird gut health”, concludes Andrew.
Feed enzymes have virtually become a given inclusion into poultry diets to help increase feed efficiency and intestinal health. By aiding digestion of feed, faecal moisture is reduced. This has significant benefits as most, if not all, health challenges are more easily managed in flocks housed on drier bedding.
Some of the enzymes available will primarily target the anti-nutritional properties present in cereals, whilst others may specifically target the release of phosphorus, for example. Much of the phosphorus present in cereals, pulses and other plant derived ingredients is poorly available to the bird’s own digestive capabilities and is made available by adding enzymes which can release more of the phosphorus to the bird.
Feed enzymes concurrently bring efficiency and savings to the feed cost of rearing birds and also environmental benefits in terms of reduced potentially damaging environmental pollutants such as phosphorus.
In addition to using additives to help support health and efficiency, targeted core nutritional principles can be applied, for example, to optimise intramuscular fat for succulence.
Another nutritional innovation is the strategic application of a specific vitamin D metabolite (25 hydroxy vitamin D) which helps the bird utilise dietary calcium most efficiently to form strong bones. Not only will this contribute to the development of a robust skeleton , which is important for health and wellbeing – particularly for those birds reared on range –but also reduces the incidence of blood leakage from bones when cooking which can discolour the meat of the bird, and can be a contributor to many potential customers indifference to leg and thigh meat.
The correct application of the latest nutritional additives and ingredients is a key part of the Traditional Turkey producers ongoing success. From supporting the bird during disease challenges, to the final presentation on the dining table, providing the right feed to your bird can help deliver the right outcome for producer and customer alike.