Poultry is big in Turkey and the country's candidate EU membership has already forced major changes in it's agricultural industry. But further development requires sharing of expertise regarding the emerging topics Salmonella and gut health.
By Emmy Koeleman
Over the last 15 years, Turkish broiler meat production has recorded significant growth, having an export volume in 2010 of approximately 151,000 tonnes to various countries. The company ANC (Animal Nutrition Company) is an important partner for many poultry producers in Turkey, being a knowledge partner and distributor for Huvepharma and Phytobiotics among others.
Companies such as ANC (founded in 2004) work on the further development of the poultry industry in Turkey and are therefore keen to organise meetings to bring the core of the poultry industry together and did so on April 7 and 8 in Istanbul. The meeting attracted around 160 poultry nutritionists and veterinarians from the Middle East, Turkey and Western Europe.
“Knowledge is the most important thing to be able to step up production and efficiency” said Ismail Özdemir, general manager of ANC in the opening words of the meeting. He also mentioned that the possible EU membership demands that Turkey has to follow the EU rules when it comes to food safety, feed labelling, antibiotic use, etc. “That is why we have to look forward and plan the future,” Özdemir addressed.
Produce just enough
Although the poultry industry in Turkey is growing, Zuhal Daştan, president of BESD-BIR - the poultry meat producers and breeders association – said we should not focus too much on consuming more and more animal protein. Nevertheless, forecasts by the BESD-BIR say that by 2018, per capita poultry meat consumption is expected to reach 29.14 kg, while that of the EU is expected to grow only slightly from 17.20 kg to 18.10 kg over the same period. “We should not brainwash people to consume more, but – as a sector - focus on producing just enough poultry meat in a healthy, sustainable and clean way” said Daştan.
President Daştan also mentioned other challenges that Turkey faces, of which one of them is Salmonella. “The EU cannot demand zero-tolerance of Salmonella in Turkish poultry, if this is not even possible in the EU” stated Daştan. We have to be realistic and be able to show that we can control Salmonella in an effective way. According to Prof. Dr. İrfan Erol from the veterinary faculty, Ankara University it is important to know what we are dealing with.
“Knowledge is power. In Turkey we have no idea how many people have been hospitalised as a result of Salmonella infection, same accounts for the economic impact Salmonella has for the poultry industry”, Erol mentioned. Giving an overview on the most important species in Salmonella, Erol explained that studies showed that Salmonella enteritidis was found the most in poultry carcasses in Turkey (62.8% of the inspected carcasses).
Another excellent overview on Salmonella and its detection was given by Nigel Horrox, poultry health consultant from the UK. “Staff education is critical in Salmonella eradication programmes and still too many assumptions are made when it comes to this pathogen”, said Horrox. He also questioned the term ‘Salmonella-free’. According to Horrox this fully depends on the sensitivity of the detection methods used, the representativeness of the samples and the level of homogenity of the samples.
Gut health focus
One of the key items of the meeting was improving gut health, a topic that was explained by Dr. Amy Batal, nutritionist at the University of Georgia in the US. She reminded the audience that the definition of gut health is very subjective and that it can entail different aspects.
“Villus height and crypt depth are often used as parameters for gut health but to date we have never found a relationship with improved performance”, Batal explained. “And do we also know what the beneficial bacteria are that we want to stimulate? Often this is based on assumptions” Batal said. She further explained that the microflora gets less diverse when chickens get older, so improving gut health starts with the young chick. Even in-ovo feeding can improve the gut health, but Batal questioned the beneficial effects of in-ovo feeding in the long run.
Sharing and learning
The sector in Turkey has achieved its growth and development through the use of science and technology; likewise, its advancement and its achievement of a sustainably competitive production will also depend on greater use, sharing, learning, and teaching of knowledge and technology besides solving its existing problems. Then EU accession might be around the corner.