A new world-class poultry research unit – one of just a handful of its kind in Europe – has opened at Nottingham Trent University.

The purpose-built single-story unit, at the university’s Brackenhurst Campus, focuses on improving the nutrition, welfare and sustainability of poultry production.

It comprises two pen rooms with biological sampling rooms and a bespoke laboratory, a feed manufacturing room, feed storage areas and office space.

The unit, part of the university’s School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences, focuses on tackling poultry industry research needs by using feed and nutrition as a tool to improve welfare and to increase environmental and economic sustainability of poultry production.

It replaces the current, much smaller poultry research unit – housed in a Victorian farmyard – which will be redeveloped as part of the ongoing regeneration of the campus.

Facility includes feed manufacturing capability

The research unit has very strong links to the U.K. animal feed industry and benefits local businesses, multinational companies and students.

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The new unit has increased feed manufacturing capability and houses specialist equipment capable of using the latest techniques and smallest possible sample sizes for nutritional analysis. 

New poultry unit part of redevelopment initiative

The project is part of the university’s multi-million pound redevelopment of the Brackenhurst Campus, which was revealed in 2016.

Ambitious plans as part of the five-year redevelopment include a main reception and state-of-the-art environment center, the redevelopment of equine, canine and animal facilities, and additional student accommodation.

“We provide a vital platform for both industry technologists and scientists to explore the interplay between nutrition, welfare and sustainability of poultry production,” said Dr Emily Burton, head of the Poultry Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University. “This important new facility, with its increased capacity, will allow us to enhance our research event further, for the benefit of global industry impact. We will be able to undertake more collaborations, such as with developing countries where our research could allow families to improve their efficiency of poultry rearing.”

Previous research at the unit has identified how ‘superdosing’ poultry diets with the enzyme phytase could result in huge savings to the poultry industry. In other work it was found that chickens could be the unexpected beneficiaries of the growing biofuels industry, feeding on proteins retrieved from the fermenters used to brew bioethanol. 

More recently, the team found how specially-bred wheat could help to provide some of the key nutrients essential for healthy bones in poultry, reducing the need to supplement the feed.