This Proposal is relevant to ROAME A LS36 (Improving the sustainability of livestock production through optimal nutrition).
It is directed towards: (1) augmenting quantitative information on bio-secure sources of protein and other nutrients; (2) relating this to high quality poultry products which can be differentiated from imports, (3) maximising use of home-grown products and increasing market opportunities and diversification for UK arable farmers, (4) maintaining competitiveness of UK agriculture by providing information on ingredients and bird responses to nutrients, 5) giving consumers access to a UK-grown non-genetically modified source of protein and energy. There are further related benefits: (6) an increased area of naked oats will result in improved species biodiversity, (7) substitution of wheat or barley by naked oats would confer environmental advantages, as oats require less nitrogen and have reduced use of pesticides, (8) there is a global dimension, in that there is a need to reduce competition between poultry and humans for high quality foodstuffs, such as maize and soya beans, (9) poultry constitute an important model species group; success in poultry nutrition may encourage uptake by other sectors of the livestock industries.
The headline objectives are:
1. To assess agronomic effects on yield and grain nutrient content in order to maximise quantity and quality. (funded by HGCA).
2. Evaluation of nutritional properties of naked oats for broilers and turkeys (proposed for MAFF funding).
3. Larger-scale evaluation of naked oats in commercial growth trials including the qualitative affects on bird welfare. (funded by commercial partners).
4. Characteristics of meat quality in relation to an oat-containing diet (proposed for MAFF funding).
5. To assess the feasibility of an industry led short chain production contract. (funded by the commercial partners)
Oats in general are increasingly recognised as having a number of valuable nutritional characteristics. Naked oats combine these characteristics with the possession of a non-lignified husk, which becomes detached during harvesting. The absence of the indigestible husk, combined with a high oil content, selected for by plant breeders, greatly increases metabolisable energy content for poultry. Further advantages of naked oats include a high concentration of essential amino acids (offering an opportunity for partial replacement of imported soya and animal proteins), a high concentration of polyunsaturated oils and significant antioxidant activity. The latter two factors confer siqnificant benefits on meat quality and marketability. The proposed research has two main objectives: To evaluate agronomic techniques including sowing rate and timing, fungicide and herbicide applications, growth regulators, and fertiliser applications on both current commercially available naked oats, experimental dwarf varieties, and thin husk conventional oats, in order to maximise yield and grain quality. To define the key nutritional characteristics of naked oats for poultry species. These include metabolisable energy, protein and amino acid contents and digestibilities, fat and fatty acid contents and digestibilities and phosphorus content and availability. The possible effects of soluble fibre on digesta viscosity and nutrient absorption will be investigated and the ameliorating effects of proprietary feed enzymes will be quantified. Quantitative information from the nutritional evaluation will be tested in commercial-scale growth trials using high-oat diets. There is evidence of decreased feather pecking in poultry fed on an increased content of oats in the diet, this and other welfare indicators would be monitored in the commercial-scale trials. Finally, it is proposed that we examine key aspects of meat quality related to fatty acid composition and antioxidant content in birds fed on diets containing naked oats.
This would be the first coordinated study on the use of naked oats in animal feed. It is designed to give comprehensive information on naked oats as a source of energy, protein (amino acids), oil and other nutrients and to relate this information to the ability to manipulate naked oats through genetic and agronomic factors.
Tangible outputs from the project will be recommendations for optimising yield and improving the nutrient content of naked oats. This, together with detailed information on nutrient utilisation by poultry, will encourage the use of naked oats in diet formulations for the poultry industries. It is proposed that, through an integrated approach, production contracts will be directly aligned to market needs. The wide range of expertise within this project will be used towards maximising quality and efficiency through the crop and livestock production chains.