The University of Saskatchewan researcher Hank Classen will lead a five-year CAD$3.6-million (US$3.5mln) research programme aimed at helping the poultry industry meet its biggest challenges: feed costs, bird health and welfare, and food safety.
“Our goal is to improve the sustainability of poultry production through precision diet formulation, more efficient use of feed ingredients and feeding programs that enhance bird health while producing quality poultry food products for consumers,” Classen said.
The funds will be provided through an Industrial Research Chair (IRC) in Poultry Nutrition backed by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and a range of Saskatchewan organizations representing chicken, turkey and egg producers. Several industry partners including poultry processors and service companies from across Canada and the U.S are also involved in the research.
“Thanks to this major funding commitment from NSERC and our nine poultry industry partners, Prof. Classen’s team will advance new knowledge in poultry nutrition, benefitting Canadians and people around the world and training future scientists and industry leaders,” said U of S Vice-President Research Karen Chad. “Food security and the research, training and partnerships to advance it are priorities for us,” she said, citing as an example the recent launch of the Global Institute for Food Security at the University.
Classen is a renowned poultry scientist and a professor in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources. His research focuses on poultry nutrition, management and welfare, and within these broad fields, his findings have made significant contributions to help improve poultry well-being while also reducing production costs. He has collaborated extensively for more than 35 years with farmers, marketing boards and processing plants through the University Poultry Extension Service.
“Improving the quality and sustainability of poultry nutrition is vital to providing Canadians with healthy meat and egg products. An international leader in his field, Dr. Classen has already led successful research partnerships that have brought major advancements to the poultry industry,” said Janet Walden, chief operating officer of NSERC. “As chair holder, his research will address industry-wide concerns and will develop sustainable practices that reduce costs of production and promote poultry health.”
Canada’s poultry sector – eggs, broiler chickens and meat turkeys – is worth about CAD$3.6 billion (US$3.5bln), according to Statistics Canada (2011). The Canadian Poultry Research Council (CPRC) estimates this figure is significantly higher if related industries like egg production, broiler and turkey breeding, egg and meat processing, and other segments of the service industry are included.
“Continued long-term industry viability depends to a large extent on research that addresses industry issues and needs,” said CPRC Board Chair Roelof Meijer. “Nutrition is one of the most important aspects of Canadian poultry production.”
The CPRC, which is funded by several poultry producer organizations, is one of the industry partners supporting the chair position. Others include the Chicken Farmers of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Egg Producers, Saskatchewan Turkey Producers’ Marketing Board, Sofina Foods, Aviagen Group, Saskatchewan Broiler Hatching Egg Producer’s Marketing Board, Prairie Pride Natural Foods and Poultry Industry Council.