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Development of nutritional regimens for rearing organic laying stock - LK0664

There are concerns that the health of pullets, in particular high-yielding lines reared in accordance with organic standards, will be compromised by the legislation preventing the addition of synthetic supplementary methionine to the feed and, relative to conventionally reared pullets, the increased pathogen challenge. Thus the challenge facing pullet rearers that want to rear birds to organic standards is how to formulate balanced diets that: meet the requirements of the bird, minimise the opportunity for pathogens to establish themselves and minimise the presence and production in the gastrointestinal tract of breakdown products that increase the prevalence of pathogens. The aim of this project is to test the hypothesis that The use of diets containing betaine, fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and saponin will enable pullets to be reared economically under conditions that meet organic certification body standards, while maintaining or improving the health and welfare of the birds during rear and the quality of the product. This aim will be met by first undertaking a socio-economic appraisal that identifies the perceived key constraints to rearing birds in organic systems and identifies diet formulations currently in use, including those without supplementary methionine. Using information gained from the survey eight dietary treatments will be tested on birds reared on-range. Apart from standard production data the birds (a high yielding genotype) will be assessed for: body weights; feed consumption; nutrient digestibility; feather pecking, cannibalism and foraging behaviour; humoral immune status and innate immunity. Based on data from this study up to three combinations of appropriate treatments will then be tested using the same protocols on both high and low yielding genotypes. Using data from these two studies up to two dietary regimens will be selected for on-farm studies that validate and refine the selected dietary strategies. The outcomes of this project will include data and literature that will be of use to: producers when formulating organic rearing diets and to certification bodies and policy makers when considering the implications of organic rearing standards. In addition, underpinning information on the organic pullet sector will be obtained which should benefit certification bodies and policy makers in particular.
Project Documents
• Executive Summary : Development of nutritional regimens for rearing organic laying stock   (3407k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2005

To: 2008

Cost: £143,193
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Soil Association Certification, Stonegate Farmers Ltd, University - Greenwich, Danisco Animal Nutrition, Burcombe Organics, NOR-FEED A/S, Sheepdrove Organic Farm, BOCM Pauls Ltd, University - Scottish Agricultural College
Organic Farming