Archive for May 2013

Dry Matter Determination in Animal Feed

Newsletter No. 72 - Item 5

The “Feed Management Education Project” is a program funded by the USDA and other partners in the United States. They have a full list of different “feed management” education documents.   One is published on Understanding Dry Matter in Animal Feed.

In animal operations, feed ingredients are provided to animals according to the weight of the feed. Although nutrients in ration formulations are often described in terms of a percentage, animals require actual amounts of nutrients.  This is known as the feeding rate and covered in greater detail as it relates to ostrich in The Basics of Ostrich Production Nutrition, Part 2, one of two papers presented at The World Ostrich Congress 2002, held in Warsaw, Poland.

As can be seen in reading both articles feeding individual feed ingredients according to weight is only accurate if the moisture content of the feed is the same as it was during the ration formation period. Changes in the weight of a feed due to changes in moisture alter the nutrient concentrations supplied to the animal unless appropriate adjustments are made to accurately reflect the actual nutrient concentration of the feed ingredient.


Comparative Dry Matter of Different Feed Ingredients [source: Blue Mountain Feeds]

A variety of factors affect the moisture content of feeds. In many cases, the timing and method of harvest are the largest contributing factors to the moisture content of the feed. However, weather and environmental conditions, such as humidity, rain and snow, all affect feed moisture content. The graphic illustrates the variations between different types of ingredients.  The Green areas represent the minimum amount of dry matter, the shaded area illustrates the variations that can be experienced and the white is water.  The essential nutrients supplied by the feed - protein, energy, fat, fibre, vitamins, minerals are all contained in the Dry Matter.  The graphic therefore illustrates just how much greater weight of the total is required to be consumed to achieve the right nutrient intake as the moisture content increases.

Determining the Dry Matter content of feed provides a measure of the amount of a particular feed that is required to supply a set amount of nutrients to the animal. Increases or decreases in feed Dry Matter content result in over or under feeding of nutrients.  This is important with all animals, but particularly important with ostrich as a result of their low daily intake of feed in relation to their body weight, making them more sensitive to what may seem like minor errors or differences, when it comes to commercial levels of production.   The article Understanding Dry Matter in Animal Feed describes how to achieve this on farm with home produced grains and forage ingredients.

Frozen Meat Markets

Newsletter No. 72 - Item 4

An article entitled “Frozen foods benefiting from recession” discusses the increase in popularity of frozen foods as one method consumers are using to help reduce food costs in the recession.  This can be considered encouraging news for Ostrich with the current limited, irregular and seasonal supplies.  It is simpler to supply a frozen product than a fresh meat product.  However, care must still be taken to ensure the product is of the highest quality.

Reading the article reminded me of an email that came from a consumer based in the US earlier this month (Feb 2009):

“Hi! I recently took out a couple burgers from the freezer. After defrosting, I cooked one on Friday night, and saved the other for Saturday.   However, when I took the other out to cook, it had gone bad!  I could tell because it developed a strong smell.  I should mention that I kept both burgers in the freezer until bringing them out to cook. Also, I believe that both were all natural and therefore had no nitrates.   So I was just wondering if it's fairly common for ostrich meat to go bad that quickly or perhaps was it just because they were untreated.”

It does not matter which specie, the principles that determine the keeping quality are the same for all meats.  There are two major factors that influence keeping quality, one is the diet the animal was fed in the months prior to slaughter and the other is the slaughter processes including hygiene at slaughter.  If there is a failure in these factors there will be an impact on the keeping quality of the meat.   The challenge we still have with ostrich is that the low volume does not yet enable most production units to provide adequate nutrients to the birds to ensure a reasonable shelf life of the meat.

Our Chairman, Stan Stewart, has slaughtered ostrich from different feed and management regimes over the years as he slaughtered not only his own birds, but also birds of other producers.  He observed variations in the keeping time of meat that were quite significant, from as little as 5 days to in excess of 5 weeks.  These observations made under the same slaughter and hygiene conditions.  The variable was the different nutritional program of the different farms.

When working to establish a new product in the market place it is regrettable that such experiences happen.  Through communication producers, processors and marketers can be kept aware that there is this problem (it has been around for many years), and then steps can be taken to fix the problem.  It is more difficult to fix when working on the very small scale we still experience with ostrich by comparison to other specie because of the higher costs associated with lack of economies of scale.

This communication provides a timely reminder to remember the document “The World Ostrich Association Factors that Influencing Meat Quality”.

Food Labelling and SMEs

Newsletter No. 72 - Item 3

The laws relating to the labelling of our foods are becoming increasingly stricter.

Wearing the hat of a consumer, the more I know about the ingredients that are in the food I eat, the happier I am, because of the ever increasing number of ingredients not naturally in our foods.  These ingredients have been developed and progressively introduced into the manufacturing process over the years.  Adding value to basic ingredients by processing foods has enabled companies to increase profitability.  To achieve this requires foods to taste good after undergoing industrial scale cooking and have extended shelf life.  This has led to the introduction of less than desirable ingredients added to our foods not only to meet those criteria mentioned but all too often to bulk the food up with low cost and nutritionally inadequate ingredients to increase profits.

Wearing the hat of a small company producing and marketing produce, this presents additional costs of production that will cost the same per product regardless of the company’s turnover – thus increasing the unit production costs for the smaller company.  This article “Labelling Law Costs for SMEs raise concerns” suggests that the cost is Euro400 per individual product.  The impact of these costs is significantly greater for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) with limited turnover when compared to the multi-nationals and large enterprises with high volume numbers of individual products.

 A quote from the article:

 “Food and drink make up the largest manufacturing sector in the EU, with a turnover of €913bn in 2007. Only 0.9 per cent of companies are classified as ‘large’, with 250 employees and over, but they provided 51.5 per cent of turnover”.

This is another cost that must be recognised by any wishing to market into the EU or any other region with strictly enforced labelling regulations in place.

Ostrich Meat Nutritional Value

Newsletter No. 72 - Item 1

This newsletter published in 2009 reported a request to the British Domesticated Ostrich Association (BDOA) received for the nutritional value of Ostrich Meat.  Quoting the words:

“I have seen the energy, fat and protein figures on the BDOA website. By any chance do you also have figures for carbohydrate and sodium? I am analysing some ostrich recipes we are using in our business and the food tables I use have no information on ostrich. Any further information would therefore be appreciated”.

The writer is a nutritionist from a very large catering organisation covering high end corporate entertainment, restaurants, company catering and canteens.   Companies of this size, as you can see from the message, normally obtain the nutritional information from published food tables.  Ostrich have insufficient volume to yet be included.  Ensuring this type of information is in the public domain and reliable, is a service an industry association, such as the WOA can provide.  However, to achieve the funding required to support such a service requires adequate support from the commercial members from the industry the association represents – they have to work in partnership.  Our industry has some way to go before we have sufficient volume of commercial companies of any size to achieve that – but that must be our goal.

Meat does not contain any meaningful levels of carbohydrates.  Carbohydrates are found in grains, fruit and vegetables at levels that are important and can be very high.  I checked the different scientific papers I have with meat sodium levels.

To answer her question on sodium levels I found the lowest sodium figure was 43mg/100g and the highest recorded was 80mg/100g and many values in between those extremes.  One of the papers was published by Jaroslaw Horbanczuk and James Sales under the title of “Characteristics and Nutritive Value of Ostrich Meat with some references to the already recognised effects of feeding” that made this statement:

“The low sodium content of ostrich meat (43mg/100g) as compared to beef (63 mg) or chicken (77mg/100g (Sales and Hayes 1996) would be advantage for people who have to consume a low sodium diet..................”

Some years ago I found similar variations in papers on cholesterol levels in ostrich meat published by the same scientist.   When I asked the author the reason for these variations, he was not sure as he accepted using data from other papers as well as his own work.  He did comment that the variations can be dietary and that some was cooked meat and other was not.

This identifies the problem of papers that report results, but fail to qualify the details of the studies producing the referenced results.  This is true with many such documents and not confined to ostrich, but extremely prevalent in papers related to Ostrich because there are so few studies and many variables that influence the results.

Domestication of Livestock

Newsletter No. 51 - Item 1

Wildlife resources: a global account of economic use [1] is a book published in 1996.  The aim of the book is to discuss the use of wildlife resources, both from a domestication view point and from a conservation viewpoint.

They discuss the development of domestication of certain species, setting out 4 stages.

  • Stage I – kept captive without or with occasional breeding
  • Stage II – kept captive with breeding, beginning genetic isolation
  • Stage III – kept captive or herded, selective breeding, full genetic isolation, semi-domestication
  • Stage IV – fully domesticated, docile, genetical changes, breeds

When viewing the table one can see that Ostrich is classed as Stage II put at 1860 and the longest Stage IV species starting the process of domestication as long ago as before 7,000BC.

Wild animal species commercially utilised by captive keeping, taming controlled breeding or domestication

Wild animal species commercially utilised by captive keeping, taming controlled breeding or domestication

[Click here for larger image]

These are the full text descriptions of the different stages:

Stage I:  The particular species is kept captive in small numbers with or without breeding.  This may occur by herding small groups close to man, leaving them to roam freely during the day-time but restricting them by night to simple protective enclosures.  Although some breeding may occur during this state, the captive stock requires regular replenishment from the wild and genetic material is still introduced regularly from the reproductive pool of the wild species.  

Stage II: The next step in the process of domestication is that the physically contained animals start breeding regularly under the care and supervision of man.  As numbers of captive bred or herded individuals increase, interchange of genetic material with animals of the wild population diminishes.  Such breeding might go on for many generations without any intentional selection by man. 

Stage III:  By this stage the captive animal stock has become genetically isolated from the wild population.  Selective breeding at this stage may either be deemed unnecessary or is very limited, for example to produce certain colorphases in furbearing animals.  Even without selective breeding, such animal stock will gradually undergo morphological, physiological and behavioural changes merely due to the different environmental circumstances.

Stage IV:  Full domestication is achieved only by long-term controlled breeding with total isolation from the wild species and the application of varying degrees of husbandry.  This results in a close relationship, even interdependency, between the particular animal species and its master.  Selective breeding and husbandry aim at the promotion of distinct anatomical physiological characteristics culminating in the formation of different breeds.

Depending on the duration and severity of the selection process, one may distinguish between “domesticated” and “domestic” animals.  The former are referred to as “primitive” domestic animals, externally still resembling the progenitor species and behaving like them.  Only the latter are truly “man-made” animals which associate freely with man and might bear little resemblance the progenitor species.

Page 13 discusses how domestication has continued developing.  As illustrations the authors cited crocodile having moved from Stage I to Stage II, moving from collecting eggs from the wild to an increasing number of farms in recent years and Ostrich farming reaching Stage III in South Africa about 50 years ago.  The interesting aspect here is subsequently when farming opened up to the rest of the world, because export of genetic material was illegal in South Africa, the early stock was collected from the wild.  This happened in a controlled manner from Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Kenya with some early shipments illegally captured from wild South African stock.  Since there has been no meaningful genetic development as yet, with limited domesticated breeding stock left, it could be argued that the Ostrich Industry outside South Africa remains at Stage II.

It is possible to move to Stage IV over a few generations once commercial production commences on an industrial scale.


 [1] Roth, Harald H., and Gu?nter Merz. 1996. Wildlife resources: a global account of economic use. Berlin: Springer Verlag.

Is MTF a better Measurement than FCR?

Newsletter No. 7 - Item 3

This article published last month (Nov 2008) on The Pigsite provides another perspective on benchmark performance figures that maybe easier to monitor and a very effective benchmark measurement of profitability.  The reasoning given is that Meat Per Tonne of Feed (MTF) is so much easier to record because in a commercial production unit all the work is done in the office and not out on the farm with all the hassle and distraction that weighing and measuring pigs and food entails.

The office records all feed purchased and all meat sold, so it is very simple to set up systems to monitor the costs of meat produced per tonne of feed sold.  No need for weighing of animals at any stage of the process.

This little table gives some clues to challenges facing Ostrich production.  When reading these tables, you will note that we provide 4 periods for ostrich, current, and after 3yrs, 5yrs and 10yrs development.  These targets assume instigating immediately a program of nutrition and management systems designed for high production and able to support the full genetic potential of the animals.  It also assumes a genetic improvement program that includes culling stock that are genetically unable to produce large frames and carry good meat yields, and selection of those lines that have the genetic ability to produce large frames, carry good meat yields and in a shorter period of time.  The targets are aggressive, but realistic with achievement also dependent on the quality of the foundation genetics.  They are targets that need to be achieved for ostrich to become commercially viable.


Ostrich Now

Ostrich 3yrs

Ostrich 5yrs

Ostrich 10yrs

Food Consumed to Slaughter






Slaughter Pigs/Birds per Tonne Feed






Total  saleable Meat/kg






Saleable Meat/tonne feed






Food consumed to slaughter is on a single unit basis (per pig/per ostrich).  Also note the definition of saleable meat is not a direct comparison between pig and ostrich.   The dressed carcass, the producer sale price for pigs, includes bone and skin, the ostrich weight includes meat only as Ostrich is generally “sold off the bone”.  

Slaughter Pigs/birds per tonne of feed illustrates the number of slaughter animals per tonne of feed consumed, but not the revenue.  Feed does control the amount of muscle an animal will develop during the growing period and also controls the amount and quality of the fat on the animal.

 A quote from the article:

Quote: Pig producers are - or should be - paid on dressed carcass weight (dcw), i.e. saleable meat. This can be established from their sale dockets for a chosen period. Set against this primary output the feed used over the same period - their main input cost - can be obtained from their feed invoices. In practice, I find a 3-month rolling average for this latter is adequate to reduce any inaccuracy to less than 1%, which compares well with the 8 to 9% found when using the FCR method which farmers are quite likely to get wrong. End Quote

Scale of operation is important as is the need to grow the animals in batches to accurately record the feed into the pen and meat sold from the pen.

Genetic Influence on Feed Conversion (FCR)

Newsletter No. 69 - Item 4

The comments below refer to Pigs, but the principles are exactly the same for ostrich and illustrate just how far we have to go yet with ostrich and the opportunities when achieved:

Quote:  "Processors want to ensure they have the best pigs to suit their system and retail customers. It surprises me that producers change their genetics without consulting their customer - the processor."  says Dr Walling.

JSR has spoken to a number of processors on this issue and has found that of the three major UK processors they only knew of three producers that had contacted them prior to changing the boar lines.

"Can you imagine a company like Heinz deciding to change the type of beans in their cans without any customer research? Those keeping pigs should keep one eye on their customers' requirements," he advises. End Quote

The above is a quote from the article from the Pig Site.  That statement provides further clues on just how much work we still have to accomplish to establish ostrich as a viable industry.  That statement also provides clues to recognise just how much untapped potential there date there has been no genetic development in ostrich, not for performance or customer requirements.

Another little quote from the article that highlights the opportunities ahead for ostrich production with the right approach:

Quote:Two decades of production proof:   Dr Walling agrees that for the past couple of years producers have quite rightly focused on lines that would minimise levels of mortality. However, now that farms have a better control of PMWS producers are beginning to look at other aspects, especially given the situation with feed prices.

"Many with Hampshire lines will have seen an increase in appetite without an FCR benefit, but that is now starting to hurt financially, so they are now looking elsewhere," he addsEnd Quote

An article written by Sue Corning from PIC UK, a major pig genetic company highlights 8 points where genetics play a major role in improving efficiency.  This final point emphases how tight costings are in meat production.

Quote:  Value for money?

Look for a track record – establish what performance can be achieved, realistically. Genetics is perhaps three per cent of costs, of which perhaps up to a half will be sireline genetics. So, if the cost of production is say 120p/kg, then the sireline genetic cost per pig at 75kg deadweight is about £1.35p. An extra 50g growth per day is likely to be worth £1.50/pig and an improvement of 0.08 in FCE could be worth £1.30/pig.

When times are hard make the genetics work - it may not be one of the largest costs, but producers should ensure that they are earning the most value from it. The cost of genetics is unlikely to make the difference between a business sinking or swimming, but the right genetics certainly can. Think carefully before making a change.

It is not possible within a genetic selection programme to make changes instantaneously. So if you want it all... and you want it now... then look for established sirelines with a proven record that are delivering now, yet have further potential for the future. end quote

The majority of ostrich breeder stock traded over the years have no records and more often sold because the original farmer is leaving the industry.   The condition of the breeders and the long history of variable and often substandard management is a major variable our industry needs to address to achieve meaningful data to progress.

Alternative Feed Ingredients: An Option to Combat High Feed Prices?

Newsletter No. 69 - Item 2

One way some attempt to reduce costs is to seek alternative feed ingredients.  This has been a very common practice with Ostrich production, even when the main feed ingredients were at reasonable prices.

More recently mainstream livestock producers have been tempted to go down the route of seeking alternative, lower cost feed ingredients.   An article recently published on the Poultry Site discusses this very topic.  The article concludes:

Quote:  Alternative ingredients should always receive full consideration for use in feed formulas, not only in times of elevated prices. However, new sources of any ingredient should be submitted for laboratory evaluation prior to purchase and use in formulation, and possible limitations considered.

It is questionable whether significant savings will be realized from the use of alternative ingredients. Although special relationships can sometimes be developed between supplier and feed manufacturer, prices of ingredients of similar nutrient content almost always rise and fall in tandem.

The unfortunate reality of alternative ingredients is quite simple: there are no inexpensive train-loads of either a new grain in Manitoba or an undiscovered oilseed in Mississippi. End Quote

During the discussion the article states:

Quote: Exactly what constitutes an alternative ingredient is an open question. To some in the feed industry, any energy or protein source other than corn, soybean meal and fat is taken to be alternative. A better working definition of an alternative ingredient would be one:

  1. that has not previously been used on a regular basis
  2. whose nutrient composition has yet to be fully defined or
  3. for which maximum level of inclusion is unclear

Each of these points is deserving of comment.   End quote

All ingredients must provide commercially viable performance in the animal:

- number of viable eggs laid
- fertility and hatchability of those eggs
- survivability
- days taken to slaughter
- feed conversion (FCR)
- quality of the meat

The following table is a guide to productive, less productive and non-productive ingredients for ostrich as described here.


Productive Charactheristics of Feed Ingredients for Ostrich [source: Blue Mountain Feeds]

Another very important section in the full article and may also help understand why feed ingredients are so critical to the success or failure of a livestock production enterprise:

Quote: Nutrient Content

There are very few alternative ingredients that are not already known to the feed industry. Their respective nutrient compositions are reported in standard tables of ingredient composition, and in the scientific literature.

However, such ingredients are often produced in relatively small facilities with variations in manufacturing procedures. A frequent result is that the same ingredient may vary markedly in nutrient composition when procured from different sources. A prime example is dried distillers grains plus solubles (DDGS), which is currently produced at more than one hundred and twenty locations in the US alone. The protein content of meals from these plants varies from less than 26 to over 29 per cent. If variation of this magnitude (about 10%) were to exist in soybean meal, the high and low protein samples would not even be sold as the same ingredient. End Quote

When evaluating the cost of feed "the cost per unit of production" is the important measure, the "cost per tonne" is usually irrelevant to this aim.  Therefore it makes sense that production should be geared to the markets available with known slaughter dates.  This aspect has been lacking in many ostrich production enterprises, especially challenting to achieve when starting a new ostrich production buisiness.

The Importance of Gut Health

Newsletter No. 67 Item 4

This item discussed an article under the subject title : Gut Health: Is Anything More Important in Turkey Production?   This article was published during the month of publication of this newsletter, October 2008. When reading this article you can substitute Turkey for Ostrich as it is totally accurate to the issues that we have advised need to be addressed with ostrich for the past 10 years and longer. It is also important to adjust some of the timescales, like incubation, as these are obviously different between the species. The principles discussed are exactly the same and still as relevent in 2013..

The opening discussions focus on the various bacterial infections that are prevalent in intensive agriculture. With ostrich production as new as it is, relatively little work has been done to date with ostrich on vaccinations and other control treatments. However, the best controls are ensuring the right balance of ingredients in the feed to maintain the gut at the correct Ph levels, operating to high standards of biosecurity, management and minimising stress.

We have mentioned the importance of optimising feed conversion as one way to control feed costs, which is even more important with the feed costs at their current high levels. The following quotation confirms this advice; remember, turkey production today is well advanced compared to Ostrich producers’ current ability to optimise feed conversion.

Quote: And with feed costs increasing, even one point lost in feed conversion is an economic challenge.  Gut health issues can result in loss of feed conversion, uniformity, weight, rate of gain and higher condemnation rates. Therefore, prevention of gut enteric challenges can result in significant savings. End Quote

These are the areas the article discusses:

Management of Breeders and Eggs
This section highlights the importance of Breeder nutrition and management to ensure adequate nutrients in the egg to pass onto the chicks at hatch. For any unfamiliar with the terminology, in this context a poult is a Turkey Chick.

Quote: Poult quality and health status is greatly influenced by the nutrients and antibodies the poult receives from the egg yolk. The benefit the poult receives from the egg will be dependent on the hen´s nutritional and immune status. Therefore, the first crucial step in minimizing enteric challenges is proper management of the breeder bird. If not treated properly, bacterial infections in breeder birds can be the start of enteric issues in poults. Poults need to be free of Salmonella, Pseudomonas and Clostridium at hatch. A sound breeder program will focus on breeder nutrition, breeder management, breeder vaccination programs (including serological monitoring to check titres) and preventing disease challenges. End Quote

Discussion also highlights the importance of egg handling procedures and chick transport care, including temperature control, when chicks are moved from the hatchery to the rearing unit.

Barn Clean Out Programs
Successful intensive livestock operations operate batch in/batch out systems. For readers not familiar with this terminology, it means stock received into the rearing unit come as a single batch in sufficient numbers to be commercially viable. They are maintained in the rearing unit until they go for slaughter. Poultry are reared in barns and/or barns with access to outdoor runs. The latter system gain “free range” certification. The comments regarding sanitation and biosecurity between batches apply to both systems and are important procedures for ostrich producers to follow.

Over the years I have been involved in Ostrich I have visited many farms with systems that do not operate on batch in batch out. I have witnessed various systems in operation, with all involving continuous throughput of chicks in one way or another. With ostrich these systems started as a direct result of sales of a few breeders or chicks to new farmers, with volumes never achieving commercial slaughter numbers. All too often business models have been built on selling chicks to new farmers.

Another reason for these continuous flow systems being developed for ostrich is the enormous growth from baby chick to slaughter weight and the assumption that slaughter is 14 months (430 days). Our industry has already proven that birds can achieve the same slaughter weight in 50% of that time. Imagine what can be achieved when operating with batch in batch out systems – the birds never being moved and with strict biosecurity in operation.

Be Ready for Poult (Chick) Arrival
All the advice is assuming large batches of same age chicks – this could be as few as 50 but more often will be numbers in hundreds or thousands. The principles are the same, no matter what the numbers.

The quicker poults find feed and water, the faster their digestive tract will begin to function normally.
End Quote

Many times I have had farmers of large numbers of ostrich when measured by ostrich industry standards, not poultry industry standards, tell me that it is easy to apply tight management systems to small numbers but not possible when dealing in volume. My experience is that the reverse is true. The larger the operation the easier it is to establish tight biosecurity and management systems.

Putting out more than they will eat in a few hours may cause the underlying feed to mould, leading to crop mycosis.
End Quote

Visiting farms and witnessing baby chick feed bowls full is a common problem I have experienced. The farmers assume that because there is feed available the chicks will eat. Ostrich chicks are sensitive to the aroma of the feed – if it has been out too long, has lost its colour or aroma, they will hold back on eating. Holding back on eating leads to many problems.

Water Sanitation and Management
This section discusses water sanitation and the importance of observing controls if adding vitamins and/or medicaments to the water supply. As water consumption will vary between individual animals, we would recommend that any additional vitamins are better administered through the feed. To qualify that statement, ensuring adequate intake of water is essential to ensure adequate intake of feed.

Quote: Use water meters to monitor water consumption to ensure birds are always increasing their daily water intake. If water consumption drops or flat-lines, birds are not well and a producer can respond before the issues become a disaster. End Quote

Water sanitation and management as it applies to ostrich can only be developed once we have volume production on a commercial scale.

Service Technician Role
In this context the title Service Technician is the Manager of the production unit. The following quote highlights well just how important management is, including ensuring the feed is manufactured and fed as the nutritionist specified.

Quote: In enteric disease situations, service technicians are often asked, “Is something missing from the feed?” Yet, most often feeds are exactly as formulated by the nutritionist and the real questions is “What caused these birds to eat litter and not feed?” Inadequate daily bird care or poor management are frequently involved in such situation and should be ruled out before looking for less obvious causes. Poor management issues could include improper ventilation (too much or too little), inadequate temperature control, excessive litter moisture, high levels of ammonia, distasteful water (due to too much sanitizer or microbial growth), poor feed presentation or any number of other issues. End Quote:

Nutritionists Role
The opening statement on this section states:

Quote: While the nutritionist plays an important role in establishing proper gut health, there are two kinds of poultry nutritionists: those who formulate forgiving diets and those who formulate bare essential diets that are unforgiving. End Quote

This section goes onto to discuss the challenges related to formulating on a least cost basis as it relates to Turkeys – we would agree. The way to achieve best performance and commercial viability is to establish the best diet that the nutritionist has determined provides best performance by ensuring good gut health, and then providing that diet at the best price possible.

Quote: Not only is a proper nutritional program critical, but a strong quality control program is a must to assure that quality ingredients are received and high-quality feed produced. This is as important for macro-ingredients such as corn, soybean and fat sources as it is for micro-ingredients such as vitamins, amino acids and trace minerals. It is also crucial to ensure that the feed mill delivers durable pellets and crumbles with a minimum amount of fines to encourage feed consumption. Properly formulated feeds are worthless if birds do not eat the feed as a complete meal. End Quote

To that statement for ostrich we would add forage ingredients to the list of macro ingredients – but in every other respect support that statement totally.

This section concludes:

Quote: Finally, the use of antibiotics for bacterial challenges is becoming limited so it is important to explore alternative options such as competitive exclusion or enzymes to aid the digestion of feed components. We must use any advantage to offset disease challenges. End Quote

Consumer demand and political controls are increasingly enforcing management systems to move away from antibiotics as control mechanisms for gut infections. This can be achieved when management work in collaboration with nutritionist, feed manufacture and tight feed and farm management controls.

Veterinarian Role
The role of our veterinarians to support the industry is essential from many aspects. However, until ostrich crosses the divide from a minority, exotic, rare breed and non commercial specie to full commercial production the veterinary profession have limited data to enable them to provide the support services required. It is my experience that few vets to date have experienced our definition of a “healthy” ostrich.

These words from the article are also very applicable to Ostrich.

Quote: As the turkey continues to improve in growth rate and feed efficiency, it will be critical for everyone involved in bird management to stay in tune with how to rear this evolving bird. Even subtle changes in bird health - especially gut health - influence their livelihood. Production cost is still paramount with the company and producer but when improving costs leads us astray of sound production practices, the results may be more costly. When enteric issues get the lead, they always win the race and you, the company and producer are the losers. End Quote:

To date ostrich is failing to develop volume production; a major reason for this is failure to address these issues in the right manner.

Meat Supply Chain

Newsletter No. 67 - Item 3

Figure 1 is taken from a slide 18 in a presentation by Rabobank at the World Meat Congress of 2008. The presentation is no longer available on line.  This presentation discussed the impact of biodiesel on the ruminant livestock sector. The graphic is simplistic, yet illustrates well the processes from farm to plate.

meat supply chain

Figure 1 - meat supply chain [Source: Rabobank International]

Understanding the many factors that influence the price of our products is an important issue to the success of any business. Slide 5 (see Figure 2) of the same presentation by Rabobank included an excellent illustration quantifying the different factors that impact on commodity prices.

Figure 2 - Factors influencing agricultural commodity prices

Figure 2 - Factors influencing agricultural commodity prices

Click here to view enlarged version