AgriFutures™ Chicken Meat Program researcher spotlight: Dr Amy Moss

22.10.19

Dr Amy Moss is a postdoctoral fellow researching nutritional strategies to improve the efficiency and sustainability of chicken-meat production at the University of New England. Producing feed for broilers is the primary cost of chicken-meat production, so it is critical that the nutrient specifications of feed ingredients are accurately determined. With project funding from AgriFutures™ Chicken Meat Program Dr Moss is compiling a database of nutrient specifications for common Australian feed ingredients used in poultry diets to aggregate the most up-to-date information available into one resource. Importantly, this database will also highlight ingredients or nutrients which are lacking data / highly variable and require further characterisation by companies or upcoming research projects to ensure future nutrient specifications are improved.

Feed constitutes more than 70% of live broiler production costs in Australia. The formulation of optimal cost-efficient diets that meet the nutritional requirements is critical and nutrient specifications of feed ingredients must be accurately determined.

Databases used by Australian poultry nutritionists, to determine nutrient specifications, have various sources and cross-checks of each figure contained within a database which is tedious and costly. In addition the determination and use of some nutrients have been constantly evolving (for example, total calcium to digestible calcium) while other nutrients are lacking recent data.

This database will provide poultry nutritionists, industry and researchers with an up-to-date resource compiling 102 nutrient specifications for 42 Australian feed ingredients in the one database. This database also identifies the feed ingredients and nutrients that are currently lacking in sample numbers, or that contain a high variability, and are in need of further analysis and study. It is expected that this database will greatly improve the accuracy of feed formulation, in turn improving the efficiency and profitability of the Australian chicken-meat industry.

Why did you get involved in the project?

As a poultry scientist, I am passionate about providing the industry with accurate and meaningful data to help improve chicken-meat production. Through discussions with industry, I became aware of the issues faced by poultry nutritionists and in particular a lack of resources and insufficient time to compile updated specifications to compare and decide on an accurate figure. This is particularly difficult when Australian data may be lacking. I am excited to provide this resource to industry to improve the certainty around nutrient specifications and help nutritionists to produce more precise diet formulations.

How will this research benefit the poultry industry?

This database will permit more robust nutrient specifications and a more precise diet formulation as nutritionists will have convenient access to multiple nutrient specifications within one resource.

The database will also evaluate the variation within the data and reveal the extent to which the data is reliable/accurate. Consequently, this will improve the predictability and efficiency of chicken-meat production.

It also highlights areas where Australian feed ingredient data is lacking in sample numbers or areas where data is inconsistent and requires further research and provides direction and priorities for future Australian research and source companies, who are eager to collect more data provided demand for particular ingredients are shown.

This project demonstrates what can be achieved when poultry integrators, the broader industry and researchers work together towards a common goal; to improve the productivity of the Australian chicken-meat industry. It is an excellent example of collaboration and co-operation across the chicken-meat sector.

What’s the best piece of professional/career advice you’ve ever been given?

To listen to industry and communicate with them to ensure your research is applicable to Australian industry practice. If your research cannot be applied in a practical sense somewhere down the line, what is the point of doing the research? You need to ensure your research can benefit industry and the society we live in. This is particularly important for early career researchers to ensure they build strong networks early on, which will bring them many opportunities throughout their career.

Read more about AgriFutures™ Chicken Meat Program agrifutures.com.au/chicken-meat

Lauren Sharkey, AgriFutures Australia, Manager, Communications & Capacity Building

lauren.sharkey@agrifutures.com.au | 02 6923 6916 | 0409 966 182