AgriFutures Chicken Meat Program Nutrition, Gut Health and Environment Research Program

The AgriFutures Chicken Meat Program, in consultation with the Chicken Meat RD&E Advisory Panel and a Chicken Industry Technical working group, is seeking to make a significant investment in a program of research to address nutrition, gut health and environment to address the overarching research question:

What aspects of broiler and broiler breeder nutrition will optimise gut health and the environment, both in-shed and external, to deliver a sustainable chicken meat production system with enhanced animal welfare?

AgriFutures Australia is now accepting applications. Applications will close 4 March 2021 at 12PM AEDT.

AgriFutures Chicken Meat Program Nutrition, Gut Health and Environment Research Program Open Tender

The AgriFutures Chicken Meat Program invests in research, development and extension (RD&E) initiatives that contribute to our vision of Growing the long-term prosperity of the Australian chicken meat industry. The four objectives  for the current RD&E Plan are:

Objective 1: Improve food safety of Australian chicken meat.

Objective 2: Develop and implement measures to improve industry impact on the environment.

Objective 3: Improve chicken meat production through the whole supply chain.

Objective 4: Improved ability to meet consumer.

The AgriFutures Chicken Meat Program is seeking proposals from consortia to conduct research that leverages existing knowledge of broiler* nutrition, diet composition and feed efficiency; their impact on gut health (including microbiota); and interaction with the in-shed and external environment

All proposals from consortia must address, at least, the first three key focus areas (highlighted in bold text) as listed below which are critical aims of the AgriFutures Australia Chicken Meat Program RD&E Plan 2019-22:

  • Improved nutritional management and feed use efficiency
  • Improved management of the internal shed environment
  • Reducing pathogens before and during processing
  • Enhanced chicken welfare
  • Management strategies for chicken health
  • Determining options to reduce environmental impacts
  • Improved management of chicken production systems
  • Improved options to manage litter

 

* Note that broiler refers to both broilers and breeders throughout.

Program goal

A diet that allows the birds to reach their full genetic potential demonstrating improved health and welfare; reduces the reliance on inputs such as antibiotics and optimises the shed environment (including maintenance of litter quality and reduction of odour) while mitigating the impact on the external environment.

Scope

Collaborative, multi-institution teams that demonstrate complementary skills including research, development, adoption, and extension together with expertise in specific technologies and products are encouraged to apply. While this program of research is national in scope, international collaboration that leverages relevant knowledge and experience is encouraged. Programs of work should demonstrate the implications on the management of broilers and the benefit and impact of research outcomes on the chicken meat industry.

Applicants are required to develop a program of research (and full proposal) for assessment by the AgriFutures Chicken Meat Advisory Panel.

Priorities to be addressed and associated deliverables

All proposals must seek to address the following topics:

  • Identify novel feed ingredients, including other grains (pulses) and alternative sources of protein (algal and insect), to reduce reliance on soybean.
  • Management of broiler health and performance on antibiotic free (including ionophores) and vegetarian diets.
  • Quantify means of optimising early lifetime gut health and immune function development with long-lasting impact over the life of the broiler.
  • Establish the role of amino acids in broiler growth and gut development by capitalising on previous research with emphasis on non-essential amino acids.
  • Understand the relationship between early-life gut microbiota establishment and to chicken productivity, health and litter management for a range of diets.

 

  • Understand the impact of feed and water additives for on-farm pathogen control (i.e. Campylobacter and Salmonella).
  • Establish the impact of gizzard erosion on chicken performance and any interactions with nutrition and litter quality.
  • Determine the impact of ingredient selection by the formulator, choice feeding and feed rejection on gut health and microbiota in the Australian context.
  • Determine the key factors in the Australian context that result in rejection of ingredients or feed particles in broiler diets and quantify the impact on gut health, performance, and body weight.
  • Monitor in-shed environmental impacts of broiler nutrition and gut health including levels of humidity, ammonia and faecal matter on litter and odour management.
  • Evaluate strategies to improve the environmental impact (footprint) of chicken meat production through broiler nutrition.

Deliverables

  • Industry applicable measurement and/or assessment methods to quantify gut health, gut microbiota, gizzard erosion and litter quality. These could include direct or indirect measurements (i.e. incidence of foot lesions or breast blisters as a proxy for litter quality).
  • Optimised broiler diets that enhance gut health, immune function and the in-shed environment for Cobb and Ross chickens.
  • Management tools, systems, or protocols to facilitate the integration of research outputs into chicken meat production systems and monitor their impact.
  • Established impacts of broiler nutrition and gut health interventions on the sustainability of chicken meat production systems.
  • A value proposition detailing the benefits and costs of the research to support the case for adoption and practice change in industry.
  • Regular engagement with chicken meat program management and industry stakeholders to identify extension and adoption pathways.
  • Embedded capacity building activities to support training and workforce development for the industry workforce and for chicken meat researchers.

Budget

  • Consortia that bring matching funds will be highly regarded.
  • The budget request for this program of research is expected to be up to $1.5 million per year for three years.

Timeline

  • 28 October 12 pm AEDT: Q&A Webinar to answer questions about the Program of Research approach
  • 5 November 12 pm AEDT: Follow up Q&A Webinar to provide detailed information about contracting, proposed timeline for submitting proposals (if you missed the webinar please see recording here)
  • 11 December 2020: Applications open
  • 3 February 2021 11.30AM AEDT: Q&A webinar to answer final questions regarding the Open Tender such as budget and contract questions. Register here 
  • 4 March 2021 12PM AEDT: Applications close
  • Mid March 2021: Proposal assessment commences

Proposed research, development, and extension work should not plan to commence prior to July 2021.

Related research

Please ensure you review previous AgriFutures Australia funded projects that are relevant to this research call and leverage existing knowledge. Details are available here.

AgriFutures Australia is moving to a new online project management system, K2. This system will manage all stages of project administration and will eventually replace our current system, Clarity.

Applications for this Open Tender must be submitted online using the RFQ application in K2.

If you had a previous account in Clarity, you can login using your Clarity user name or email address and the initial password K2pass! You will be prompted to reset this initial password when you login. If at any time you forget your password, you can also reset it via a forgotten password link on the login page.

Click here to login to K2 

If you do not have a Clarity login you must create a K2 account before submitting a proposal. To set up a secure account before submitting a proposal, contact the AgriFutures Australia helpdesk for a username and password by emailing helpdesk@agrifutures.com.au

Usernames and passwords will only be issued while the applicable round is open.

If you require assistance, please contact helpdesk@agrifutures.com.au

FAQs

Would you expect that more than one consortium be eventually funded? Will only one consortia be awarded the funding, or could there be a couple/few that share the funding with different focuses?

No. Only one research agreement will be funded. One group or consortia will be awarded the funding to undertake the program of research as per the Terms of Reference.

AgriFutures Australia expects that research providers will hold their own discussions to pull together the expertise to be able to deliver against all of the key deliverables.

Proposals addressing just one deliverable will not be considered.

AgriFutures Australia will not actively broker or arrange research providers to form consortia or groups.

What if my research idea is not listed in the TOR; will there be a open call this year?

No, at this stage there will not be a open call for RD&E ideas this year. This program of work is the current priority for the chicken meat industry.

Other targeted calls to address industry-identified needs may arise throughout the year.

Are you expecting the matched funding to be all cash, or can it include in-kind? Does matching funds need to be cash or in-kind ?

The preference is that proposal will include cash contributions as well as in-kind. The AgriFutures Chicken Meat Advisory Panel will consider the proposal put in front of them and the merits of each. Proposals that bring additional cash will be considered favourably.

Are the proposal application docs the same or different?

We are expecting detailed proposals.  If you have any questions about the proposal please contact AgriFutures Chicken Meat Manager, Research Georgie Townsend or Annie Lane.

How will IP be considered?

To ensure this investment delivers value for the chicken meat industry, AgriFutures Australia expects that research organisations will leverage past research, development and extension, and as such, it is expected that research organisations may bring specialist IP to this project.

At contracting, AgriFutures Australia will negotiate with the preferred respondent/s to develop an appropriate and relevant IP and commercialisation agreement to deliver value for the Australian chicken meat industry.

As background, our new research agreement and IP and Commercialisation terms are found on our website here.

Can we attach additional information to support the proposal?

Yes. There is a place in the application form where additional information can be provided. Use this as you need, to provide the level of information that you feel will support your proposal.

Will a letter from the committing organisation do?

The letter of intent from a committing organisation would need to be signed by someone within the organisation with the delegated authority to approve the cash commitment.

Do you have a preferred guideline for the management and governance of the consortium?

No. We are open to your ideas. There is not a guideline for the management and governance of the consortium, that is the responsibility of the lead organisation and the team. However, the consortium would be guided by the principles that are established for the management of all investments through the AgriFutures Chicken Meat Program, more details can be found in the Researcher Handbook.

Is there an underlying subtext to the program for workforce development?

No, not an underlying subtext, rather, there is an explicit deliverable stated, ‘Embedded capacity building activities to support training and workforce development for the industry workforce and for chicken meat researchers.’ That is, we expect the proposal to address this industry-designed deliverable to embedded workforce development into the program of work.

Proposals addressing just one deliverable will not be considered.

Do you want the successful consortia to have experience in research management?

We are seeking a research team/s to partner for effective delivery of the program goal: A diet that allows the birds to reach their full genetic potential demonstrating improved health and welfare; reduces the reliance on inputs such as antibiotics and optimises the shed environment (including maintenance of litter quality and reduction of odour) while mitigating the impact on the external environment.

We expect the successful team will include researchers and specialists from a range of disciplines. Effective management of the team will be required to meet the goal. The demonstration of experience in research management would be taken into consideration. It is expected that the lead organisation would manage the delivery of the program of research.

Just to clarity if we get $100K investment from industry you will match that over and above the $1.5M? 

Yes, that is possible. We will consider investment of AgriFutures Chicken Meat budget of up to $1.5m per year for three years. If cash contributions are brought to the project, the rules by which AgriFutures matches cash contributions will apply.  Matched funds are subject to the legislated and contractual agreements that AgriFutures Australia complies with and can only be used for the purposes they are invested in.

Can you have a Q&A webinar after the application portal opens? 

A Q&A Webinar will be scheduled following the opening of the proposal portal. The time and date are TBA. Until the portal opens, you can approach the Research Managers to answer any specific questions.  Your methodology must address the Terms of Reference  by covering:

  • How your group will address the program goal, priorities and key deliverables
  • Who will undertake the work
  • What your program will involve
  • Why your group is best placed to deliver this program.

By matching funding do you mean 1:1?

No. Matching funds is fixed by our funding agreement, as 1:0.5, i.e. $1 in $1.50 out.

How important is collaboration with industry chicken meat businesses?

Critical. The intent of the program of research is to have industry-ready research outcomes that can be adopted by industry, readily implemented, or used to improve their decision making within their businesses. The Terms of Reference has been developed with industry input. At every stage of the program, the industry will be involved or benefit from the outcomes of the research.

Will there be any normal proposal calls from Agrifutures in the next three years?

Yes, there will be other open calls, notification will be given about those closer to the time.

Does the funding commence in July 2021 for the approved project?

Funding will commence once an agreed contract is signed by all parties as soon as practicable after July 2021.

Are there any chances of delay beyond July 2021?

The commencement will be dependent on the contracting process.

How much detail do you need in full proposal?

The full proposal should detail the plans to achieve the key priorities and deliverables of the project as described in the terms of reference. A detailed budget is expected. Your proposal should set out to address all the deliverables.

Are there any forums where consortia/potential researchers can communicate various proposals?

If an individual researcher contacts an Agrifutures Chicken Meat program Research Managers, we will be suggesting that they reach out to groups who are participating in consortia discussions.

How will the successful consortium/program be structured? Will there be subprojects led by individual researchers?

The structure, staffing, and membership of the program team, and how they are organised and funded to undertake the program of research is up to that group.

Only one research partnership will be funded. One group or consortium will be awarded the funding to undertake the program of research as per the Terms of Reference.

For example, to deliver against the key deliverables, there might be several sub-projects led by different organisations, but collectively managed by the lead group in the consortium. Agrifutures will not manage individual subprojects that contribute to the program of research. All discussions, structures, and partnerships to deliver this work, need to be had prior to submission of the proposal.

 

Can you explain in more detail what you expect in the project method section (1000 words total)?Can you explain in more detail what you expect in the project method section (1000 words total)?

The project method section is expected to clearly detail the proposed tasks that will be undertaken to achieve the proposed objectives of the program of research. The proposed deliverables should focus on industry led outcomes that are going to provide value to the Australian Chicken meat industry. The method should include details of extension, training and communications activities that will be a part of the program of research, and how these intend to be delivered, monitored and evaluated.The level of detail included in the method section should be proportionate to the scope and large investment of this research tender. The consortium should utilise the additional attachment feature in K2 to include a more detailed method, beyond the 1000 word limit.

Can you elaborate on what level of detail you require in the milestone section?

The milestone section should include the expected deliverables of the program of research, what tasks this includes and when milestones are expected to be delivered. Again, the level of detail included in this section should be proportionate to the scope and investment of this research tender, and we encourage the use of additional attachments where needed.The proposed milestones and deliverables will be negotiated with the successful consortium prior to the contracting stage.

What kind of documents go in the extra attachments?

It is at the consortia’s discretion to determine the level of detail required for the application, proportionate to the investment being offered for the tender. A detailed methodology and a detailed budget are expected to be included in the proposal.

Is the assessment panel the same as the current advisory panel?

The assessment panel responsible for review and selection of the successful consortium will be determined by AgriFutures Australia. This will include current Chicken Meat Advisory panel members as well as AgriFutures staff. AgriFutures is managing and documenting any conflicts of interests that may arise, and any person who is deemed to have a conflict of interest will not be included on the assessment panel. The assessment panel will be consistent for all proposals.

Can you clarify what is meant by determining the impact of ingredient selection by the formulator; choice feeding and feed rejection on gut health and microbiota in the Australian context?

Impact of ingredient selection:

  • What is the impact when ingredients with higher antinutritional factors are chosen? Nutritionists are generally aware of the effects of ingredients on growth and performance of the chicken. This question is asking the consortia to simultaneously address – What is the effect on nutrient utilisation and what is the effect on gut health using a product that may have lower/higher nutrient digestibility?
  • When there is the need or option to use alternative protein/novel ingredients, what effect do the antinutritional factors in ingredients have on performance, gut health/gut microbiota and welfare?
  • How do we determine the ingredients effect on gut health when nutrient digestibility may also be involved?

Choice feeding:

  • Choice feeding, or sometimes called feed rejection, refers to the key factors relevant to the Australian context that result in rejection of ingredients or feed particles. Rejection can result in poor performance and body weight uniformity.
  • Determine the impact of choice feeding and/or feed selection on gut health and microbiota, is this a cause or effect?

Will you require signed pledges for cash and in-kind?

The assessment panel welcomes evidence that the consortium is founded on co contributions. It will be looked upon favourably if letters of support can be provided for cash and in-kind contributions. All contributors must clearly be named in the detailed budget submitted.

If a consortium is a front runner but falls short in one or two key areas will AgriFutures recommend additional partners that can fill the gaps?

No. AgriFutures expects that all consortia will have developed a project team that can deliver on the objectives of the tender.

Are you looking for an economic analysis when you ask to outline a value proposition detailing the benefits and costs of the research?

The consortia should consider all aspects of how the proposed research, the research team, the proposed methods, and budget to address this approach will provide value to, and/or impact the Australian chicken meat industry. This constitutes the value proposition. An economic analysis is not required.

Would you be looking at more of a helicopter view of the program together with the capacity and facilities of the team so that finer project details will be left to the team to come up as the Program evolves?

No. AgriFutures expects to see more detail than a “helicopter view”. The assessment panel expect to read about the finer details of your proposed approach, how it addresses the industry-led objectives, how this aligns with your proposed budget, the combined skills, knowledge, and experience of your consortia team to deliver value for the Australian chicken meat industry. As this is a large investment, the detail included in the proposal should be proportionate to the value of the tender. The consortia should utilise the additional attachments feature in K2.

Are we thinking “shark tank” style i.e. you are after a pitch rather than a FRP?

The assessment process will be a two phased approach. There will be no opportunity for the consortium to add to the proposals after the closing date and time (12 Noon 4 March, 2021). In the 24 hours prior to the closing date all consortia will be contacted to ensure that they have completed the full application process. All proposals will be assessed as they have been entered into K2. That is, only the information submitted by the due date will be considered by the assessment panel. Following the first assessment phase, the assessment panel will invite the shortlisted consortia to present at a “pitch” style meeting. Details of the presentation will be provided to the consortia prior to the meeting.

As a reminder, the proposal submission portal closes at 12 p.m. (AEDT) 4 March, 2021. There will be no extensions or exceptions late submission.  The day prior to closing, each consortia will be contacted to ensure that they have completed their application in full.

Are industry people in companies that have pledged support for a bid(s) regarded as having a conflict of interest as proposal assessors?

AgriFutures Australia has established processes and procedures for recording and managing actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest. Individuals and companies who have pledged support for proposals will need to disclose this to AgriFutures Australia. These conflicts will then be assessed by AgriFutures Australia in accordance with its Corporate Governance requirements.

Would AgriFutures ever expect combining submitted proposals by different organisations?

No. AgriFutures Australia expects that research providers will hold their own discussions to pull together the expertise to be able to deliver against ALL of the key deliverables, and we would not combine or broker agreements from different organisations.

Will there be any other call for single projects later this year?

The AgriFutures Chicken Meat Advisory panel will meet in February 2021 to discuss key research priorities for the program, and as usual, our updates on research opportunities will be posted to the AgriFutures website.

In the project detail, in the section titled “Organisational capability and experience” are you after; Capability and experience of all the organisations included in our consortium?  OR Capability and experience of the lead organisation only?

The assessment panel want to understand the capability and experience of the consortium, so we would be seeking information on more than just the lead organisation. We consider the team and all/each of the partner organisations, or research leads, as an important part of assessing capability and experience. Again, if there is not sufficient space, please add attachments.

Are the word limits in each section of K2 ‘hard limits’? That is, if you go over the word limit, does our system reject your submission?

Word limits will prompt a big red bar advising that you have gone over the limit but will allow you to submit over the limit.

AgriFutures are happy to receive additional wording in any section as an attachment. Obviously we ask you to be kind to the selection panel with your total words, but please use the add attachments function of K2 as you need to present your proposal to us.

Are there any limits to the number of, and size of, attachments that can be added?

No limits on the number – the size is currently limited to 5MB per attachment. Again, please use the add attachments function of K2 as you need to present your proposal to us.

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