A faculty member in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences is among a select group entrusted with updating a publication that is deemed the global "gold standard" of poultry nutrition information for academia, government and industry.
Robert Elkin, professor of avian nutritional biochemistry in the Department of Animal Science, recently was appointed as a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine committee that will prepare the 10th revised edition of the Nutrient Requirements of Poultry publication. Committee members — nominated by peers based on their knowledge of the subject matter — underwent an extensive vetting process. They also had to agree to volunteer between 600 to 800 hours to the endeavor.
"It is an honor to be selected to revise a benchmark publication that provides valuable information to the poultry scientific community worldwide and helps to ensure the health and performance of meat and egg strains of poultry," Elkin said.
"The last edition was published in 1994, so an update is long overdue, because the growth and productive potential of modern poultry strains continues to evolve and so have their nutritional needs. This next revised edition of this report will have a profound effect on the field for 20 years or longer."
First published in 1944, the guide serves as a neutral, authoritative source of science-based information for the poultry and feed industries, government agencies and regulatory committees on nutritional requirements of broiler chickens, laying hens, turkeys, ducks and other poultry species.
Elkin and nine other experts from the U.S., Canada and Europe will oversee the estimated four-year process of updating the report, which is reviewed extensively both internally and externally prior to publication. Currently, the total cost of revising a Nutrient Requirements report is approximately $500,000, with funding coming primarily from the National Academies, ingredient manufacturers, commodity associations, research and educational foundations, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.
The National Academies committee will review the scientific literature and make recommendations on the nutrient requirements of poultry, based on a comprehensive analysis of recent research on the dietary needs of poultry for energy, amino acids, lipids, minerals, vitamins and water. The composition of feed ingredients, nutrient bioavailability and the influence of dietary components on the nutritional quality and functional properties of poultry meat and eggs are among many of the other topics to be covered in the report.
Elkin — who holds a bachelor's degree in animal science from Penn State, and a master's in nonruminant nutrition and a doctorate in nutritional biochemistry from Purdue University — brings years of teaching and research experience to the project.
He was head of the Department of Poultry Science at Penn State from 1999 until 2012, when it merged with the former Dairy and Animal Science Department to form the Department of Animal Science. Prior to joining Penn State, he was an assistant, associate and full professor of animal sciences at Purdue University.
His nationally and internationally recognized research program has spanned a number of areas, including avian amino acid nutrition and metabolism; nutritional/pharmacological reduction of egg cholesterol content; and, most recently, novel dietary approaches to enrich eggs and poultry meat with "heart-healthy," very long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.