“Transfer know-how to next generation”

Photo: ESPN
Photo: ESPN

The organisation of the 22nd edition of the European Symposium on Poultry Nutrition (ESPN) is in the hands of the Polish branch of the WPSA. Poultry World spoke to president and honourable professor Andrzej Rutkowski: “We are proud to organise the event in the fast changing landscape of research and development. For us, it is all about the exchange of insights and to further develop our next generation.”

During a relaxed sit down in the office of Andrzej Rutkowski at the University of life sciences in Poznan the president of WPSA Poland looks ahead towards the upcoming ESPN event, which will be held in Gdańsk. On the table lies a booklet which is close at heart of Rutkowski. It holds the combined work of a lifetime of research and scientific studies and was put together for a special occasion.

Just days before the interview, Prof Rutkowski received the title honorary doctor of the technological and natural University in Bydgoszcz. This honoured scientific title is an expression of appreciation for scientific achievements and outstanding personality. Whilst lauding Prof Rutkowski with the title, Dr Marek Bednarczyk from the faculty of animal breeding and biology of the University of Technology and Natural Sciences in Bydgoszcz highlighted scientific achievements of the professor, such as feed efficiency improvements and the use of enzymes in the feeding of chickens for slaughter. Prof Rutkowski discovered a set of enzymes which significantly improve the nutritional value of the extractive rape meal and the diet without animal protein. In this study, Prof Rutkowski developed the use of indigenous protein sources in animal nutrition. According to Prof Rutkowski it would be utopian to completely eliminate the protein from the imported soybean meal into Europe, but that does not mean that we do not have many possibilities for a partial substitution of imported soy.


Professor Rutkowski has authored many scientific studies of significant practical importance for the development of poultry and pig feeding. He is currently a professor in the department of animal nutrition at the University of Life Sciences in Poznań, Poland. He is also the president of the board of the Polish branch of the World Poultry Science Association.

I can imagine protein sources could be a hot topic during the ESPN as well?

“It is indeed. In our program we highlight three main themes. Future protein sources is one, but we will also focus on layer nutrition and the broader theme of gut health. But rest assured, the ESPN will not be about my work, nor will it be about Poland. When it comes to future protein sources our national challenges are the challenges of the whole of Europe. We import large amounts of soy and that can be expensive and our poultry meat consumers worry about GMO soy. So alternatives are sought after and researched heavily. Locally produced rapeseed or legumes are already in play, but dry distillers grains (DDGS), algae and insect protein are still interesting subjects to gain more knowledge on. We aim to provide a truly international venue for the event. On top of that we already have 285 abstracts and 25 full papers submitted to date. From what I already saw, it will be a very interesting and information dense event for the whole poultry nutrition industry.”

But Poland has a very interesting story to tell, doesn’t it?

“The poultry industry, and in its wake the Polish branch of the WPSA, is growing fast. Our organisation now has 220 members, which makes it one of the largest branches in the EU. In addition our members are heavily involved in the WPSA working groups. We want to be involved, because our industry encounters the same issues as elsewhere in the world. From 2014 onwards our industry grew to become the biggest poultry meat producer in the EU and the 2nd largest egg producer, with 50% exports towards other EU countries. That was achieved by focusing on cost price and quality, both topics which are supported by lots of research.”

Did that play a role in being awarded the ESPN congress?

“For us it is really valuable that the WPSA honoured us with the organisation of the ESPN. It shows that we have developed as a strong branch. I still can remember the last ESPN in Poland, which was just after the Communists left in 1993. I am pretty sure that the main reason then was that Poland was an interesting country to visit, more than an interesting place to get the latest insights. That has changed. We are still a nice country, but our work, our people and our international involvements in poultry and nutritional science will make all the difference now.”

What is the main goal for you as an organiser?

“We want to stay true to the basis of our organisation. The WPSA, on the basis of its constitution, wants to promote the progress of poultry knowledge and technology. We do so through assistance in communicating information, organising international and national congresses, conferences and meetings. For me personally it is of great importance that we involve our younger generation. I always say that our young people should become better than me and I always urge them to make the most out of symposia and conferences. As a professor it is my main role to transfer my know-how to them and show them the ways of further improving themselves. The ESPN is therefore an event they cannot miss. I am really looking forward to engaging with attendees and discussing with them and I invite everyone to do likewise.”

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Fabian Brockotter Editor in Chief, Poultry World