Things are changing in poultry production and how birds are managed: antibiotic-free broilers and intestinal health management, to name a few. In this context, the gizzard is an organ that typically does not get the attention it deserves in broilers. In the last decades, the focus has been on digestibility and yield.

But things change. In the situation of removing antibiotics, how do we manage the gizzard? Can the gizzard help us?

In a discussion with Dr. Kip Karges, director of technical service and research H.J. Baker & Bro. Inc.’s feed division, during IPPE last week, he said that we may need to shift the pH of the gut a little bit, to make it more environmentally friendly for fiber digesters and other microbial cultures.

If gizzard works the way it should, it is easier – in general terms – to improve gut health. Karges said that we have forgotten the gizzard, because we did not need it. We had antibiotics. It’s an interesting point!

All this seems to be a matter of feed particle size. We simply reduce the particle size of raw materials for a faster throughput. And what about the retention time in the small intestine?

By maximizing passage, we maximize starch digestion. But we should not be concerned about predigesting starch. Karges says that it is, more or less, the gizzard’s function. Gizzards breaks up things. Let us remember it is a very strong muscle.

Nowadays we have wonderful hammer mills to reduce particle size and leave the gizzard alone. But, if we need to shift the pH and microbial activity in the gut, we might need a bit larger grain size. But, we do not need this all production cycle long. We need it only for the first two weeks of age. Improving cultures in the gut in that period creates good conditions for the rest of the feeding period.

This seems to be a reverse concept. Or it might be that we need to go back to basics. But let’s remember that the gizzard is an important part of the poultry digestive tract. Why not utilize it? What do you think?