Biosecurity, food safety top issues for live production

This exclusive WATT Live Production Survey reveals a focus on biosecurity and food safety with a significant number of poultry firms ready to grow production.

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WATT PoultryUSA polled industry people responsible for live production management about their top challenges, production techniques and business outlook in 2010. Their responses reveal an industry that is focused on biosecurity and food safety with a significant number of firms ready to increase production in 2010.

Following are a few key findings:

  • The business outlook is generally favorable, with 30% of respondents saying sales and profits are good now and 46% expecting to see slowly improving sales and profits in the next 12 months.
  • Plans for production volume are mixed, with an equal percentage (44%) expecting to increase production volume and keep it the same in 2010.
  • The highest priority for investment in live production facilities in 2010 is in ventilation equipment.
  • Biosecurity and food safety are the top challenges faced by live production managers, according to the managers surveyed.
  • The most commonly used salmonella reduction measure is rodent control, with 70% of respondents indicating usage.
  • Just over 57% of respondents said their companies are now engaged in producing antibiotic-free poultry.

Survey participants

Survey responses came from a cross-section of live production managers at broiler and turkey companies, including live-operations vice presidents, live production managers, broiler and turkey managers, breeder production managers, hatchery managers and corporate veterinarians. Responses came from 79 managers across the globe.

Business outlook for 2010

The business outlook is generally optimistic among poultry live production managers. Forty-six percent of respondents believe there will be slowly improving sales and profits in the next months; 30% say that sales and profits are good now; and 18% expect business conditions will improve significantly in the second half of 2010. Only 6% of respondents said they expect to see negative or poor profitability over the next 12 months.

Some production expansion

Survey responses indicate a mixed picture for changes in production volume in 2010. An equal number of respondents (44%) said their companies will expand production in 2010 or keep it the same as in 2009. Twelve percent said production volume will decrease in 2010.

Major challenges in live production

“Biosecurity/disease” and “food safety of finished products and regulations” were rated as the two most important live production concerns.

Over 80% of respondents ranked “biosecurity/disease” as being among their top three concerns, with 52% saying it was their single-highest priority.

“Food safety” was ranked somewhat lower with over 70% of respondents ranking it as among their top three concerns.

Live production managers are also focused on the basics. “Management of programs to achieve live performance in flocks” was the third-highest ranked concern among respondents.

“Animal welfare” was ranked fourth in overall importance by respondents.

Mycotoxins and other challenges

With a late harvest of grains in the U.S. and much wet weather, the problem of “mycotoxins in feed” was highly ranked as a concern by a significant number of respondents, but an almost equal number ranked it as a concern of lesser importance. This would seem to indicate the problem is regional in importance.

Ranking near the bottom of the list of challenges was “capital for expansion/replacement of production facilities.” While the business outlook is improving and a significant number of firms are expanding or replacing production facilities, availability of capital seems to be of lesser importance among the majority of respondents. Responses indicated this is a significant concern for some respondents but not a serious concern for others.

The “availability, cost and quality of research to support decision making” ranked lowest overall among the 10 challenges on the list. While a significant number ranked research among their top 5 challenges, this challenge also received the greatest number of rankings in the bottom half.

Salmonella reduction measures

With food safety ranked as a major challenge, respondents were asked about the salmonella reduction measures being used in their production facilities and flocks (see “Salmonella reduction measures”).

The most commonly used salmonella reduction measure is rodent control, with 70% of respondents indicating usage. Litter management (58%) and requirements for salmonella-free breeders (48%) are also widely used. Treatment of drinking water at feed withdrawal is the fourth most prevalent practice, according to the survey.

Controlling gut microflora

Live production managers were asked about technologies used to control gut microflora in their flocks (see “Gut microflora technologies”). The leading control practice in use is chlorinated water (70%), followed by acidified drinking water (58%), Enzymes in feed (58%), growth-promoting antibiotics (48%) and coccidiosis vaccines (38%) and several others.

Antibiotic-free production

Live production managers were asked, “How does your company view antibiotic-free poultry production?” The responses show that antibiotic-free production is prevalent and will remain so.

Just over 57% indicated their companies are now producing antibiotic-free poultry. Another 17% said they “might consider antibiotic-free production in the future, and 3% said it is “currently under test and looks promising.”

Of the firms already producing antibiotic-free poultry, 31% indicated that it “will remain at low levels for now” and 26% said it “will likely be significant in the future.”

Around 23% of respondents said that antibiotic-free production either had been tested and rejected or would not be considered.

Upgrading and expansion of facilities

The managers were asked about their priorities for investment in live production facilities in 2010. Overall, the highest priority is for investment in ventilation equipment. Other leading priorities (in order of importance indicated by respondents) included investment for upgrading structural elements (walls, roofing, insulation, etc.), electronic controls and housing management systems and heating and brooding equipment. 

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