Poultry nutrition is “on the cusp” of breakthroughs that will make production more efficient, according to Dr. Peter Ferket, professor of poultry science, North Carolina State University.

“Efficiency has become the mantra of everyone” because of the economic crisis, Ferket said at the WATT Online Animal Nutrition and Health Forum, April 29 (listen to the presentation).

Here is Ferket’s top-10 list of future developments:


  1. Computerized knowledge to optimize poultry nutritional programs. Examples of this are simulation modeling, which would measure how potential changes would impact flock performance, risk measurement, and holistic analysis.
  2. Feed inputs. In the United States, the list of alternative feed ingredients is not very long, Ferket said, but new ingredients are becoming more important due to the growth of biofuels. Many research projects, he said, are being conducted on using distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS). The key reason why is that in 2005, the U.S. biofuels mandate called for 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol, but by 2017, the mandate calls for 35 billion gallons of ethanol, which would take “100% of the corn crop that we have right now.” Experts say it “will take a while” for cellulosic ethanol to be cost competitive, he adds.
  3. The enhanced nutritional value of feed, which will become increasingly possible through the use of enzymes. The more enzymes are studied, “the more we will understand” how they operate under different situations and combinations.
  4. The “enteric ecosystem” or gut health. “We’ll see lots of research” on gut health, Ferket says, and its linkage to productivity and overall health.
  5. Increasing nutrient absorption
  6. Pronutrient synergy
  7. Feed science and nutrient stabilization. Improved pellet quality will increase efficiency, Ferket noted.
  8. Neonatal and perinatal nutrition
  9. Nutrigenomics
  10. Epigenetics