PoultryUSA - April 2018 - 19
didn't accomplish what we wanted for the bird."
All the other parts of GAP, like adding enrichments
and natural light, can be handled, Shepard said. Slowergrowing genetics, however, will be harder to deal with.
"I just don't think anyone's really thought through
the whole change in the slow-growing breeds,"
Shepard said. "I'm not saying there shouldn't be choices ... but to attach that to GAP standards that come at
the industry - that needs a lot more thought through
that. And I don't know why we can't do it through
combinations of feed restriction or feed density."
New welfare requirements call for installing windows
to allow natural light into broiler houses. Terrence O'Keefe
mals spend their whole lives on the farm. Wayne also
produces conventionally raised, no-antibiotics-ever and
vegetable-fed chicken products.
Shepard said Wayne Farms put its first slowergrowing birds down in January 2018 and is testing to
see what the impact of slower growth will be on its
business. A loss of 17 to 20 points of feed conversion
and 11 more days of grow-out needed before reaching
slaughter weight are possible impacts. Slower growing
birds will require more chicken houses, too.
'We've gone backwards'
Shepard said he's concerned about slower-growing
genetics. First, the breeding decisions are being made
today - separately of his operation - but won't have
any impact until five years later.
Second, there's no guarantee a slower-growing
breed will be as healthy and resilient as a conventional
bird. Modern breeders are constantly improving bird
health in general. There's a comparatively much smaller pool of slower-growing genetics, he said. A small
supply coupled with high demand means the integrator
may be forced to go with a breed it's not familiar with
that's more susceptible to disease and other health issues than the conventional breed.
"We've gone backwards," Shepard said. "We've gone
backwards on sustainability - 20 points feed conversion
- and then we just went backwards on health, and we
April 2018 ❙ www.WATTAgNet.com
Slowing growth through management?
Shepard said there are other ways to slow growth down
besides modifying genetics. Feed density and feed restriction are possible methods. In New Zealand, for example,
three-fourths feeding methods are used to control growth.
Mesch agreed that growth is not just about genetics. There are ways to manage conventional breed
birds so they grow more slowly and vice versa. She
said the New Zealand example is early restriction of
feeding and then compensatory growth at the end of
the cycle. This practice can reduce leg and footpad
dermatitis problems, too. She said focusing on welfare
outcomes, instead of dictating genetics, may be a way
forward with the slow-growing challenge.
Light and feed conversion ratio
The use of light in broiler environments, and the
relationships between light levels, activity levels and,
Missed the IPPE panel? Watch highlights
from the discussion on-demand,
including more information on the role
lighting plays in the house: