In 2017 WATT Global Media celebrated 100 years serving professionals working in global poultry production and processing. To commemorate this significant milestone, WATT Global Media’s editors created a series of original forward-looking industry-focused articles that published throughout 2017 in WATT Poultry USA, Poultry International, Egg Industry and Industria Avicola. These in-depth articles appear below, and focus on exploring developments in key industry sectors that are making an impact on the future of the worldwide poultry industry. Additionally, in 2018 the WATT 100-Year Anniversary Future of Poultry Compendium issue was published. This unique issue will be a keepsake collectible of all “WATT 100: Future of the Poultry Industry” articles.

Thank you to our “Future of the Poultry Industry” article series sponsors including ADM, Aviagen, Cobb, Diamond V and Elanco, we appreciate and value your support! We hope you will enjoy reading these special articles.

Will no-antibiotics-ever poultry improve human health?

The number of broiler, turkey and layer flocks raised in no-antibiotics-ever programs is rapidly increasing, but it is uncertain whether this will reduce antimicrobial resistance in human medicine.

Over the past five years, the number of broilers raised in the U.S. in no-antibiotics-ever programs has increased dramatically.

Read the entire report about no-antibiotics-ever poultry exclusively in the December issue of Poultry International.

Grady Bishop, senior director, global market access, Elanco, told the audience at the Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc.’s National Meeting on Poultry Health, Processing and Live Production, Ocean City, Maryland, that the portion of U.S. broilers produced as no-antibiotics-ever birds has increased from just a few percent in 2012 to nearly 40 percent in 2017.

This rapid shift in how U.S. broilers are raised has come in response to purchase pledges by major quick-service restaurant chains like McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A and as major poultry integrators, Tyson and Perdue in particular, have made antibiotic usage in their flocks part of their retail brands’ marketing claims. This seismic shift in the marketplace, along with changes in the Veterinary Feed Directive, are also impacting how turkeys and table egg layers are being raised.

Human and veterinary medicine are facing a long-term challenge: Fewer new antibiotics are being developed while at the same time the incidence of pathogenic bacteria that are resistant to one or more antibiotics is increasing. Governments around the globe are trying to find ways to maintain the efficacy of existing antibiotics while encouraging the development of new antibiotics.

The One Health approach that has been adopted to combat antimicrobial resistance looks at antibiotic use in humans and food animals. The marketplace now sees elimination of antibiotic use in poultry husbandry as a virtue, but will this change actually improve efficacy of antibiotics in human medicine?

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Poultry, aquaculture set to dominate protein markets

Aquaculture and poultry are winning the competitive battle for share of the global farmed animal protein market.

There are major differences in competitiveness among the diverse species that make up the global animal protein supply. The winners in this competitive battle are the species that are both highly desired by consumers and efficient to produce.

Read the entire report about the future of the protein market in the November issue of WATT PoultryUSA.

Global protein production trends clearly show who is winning and who is falling behind. If 1990-2014 growth rates persist, chicken will overtake pork as the No. 1 meat by about 2020. In the not-too-distant future aquaculture could overtake chicken.

Dramatic differences in growth rates among proteins

Within total protein supply, ability to compete is revealed by production trends. The fastest growing species are those that are suitable for large scale production and the most feed-efficient.

Figure 1 contains 1990 through 2014 Compound Annual Growth Rates (CAGR) history for the major meats, eggs, aquaculture (farmed fish and shrimp), several minor meat categories, plus global population. The items are sorted from fastest to slowest growth rate. The only item growing slower than population is beef and buffalo. The clear majority of that category is beef. Total meat, egg and aquaculture production is growing 1.5 percentage points faster than population, indicating a 1.5 percent annual global per capita growth. Beef and buffalo production is growing much slower than global population, and average per capita consumption is shrinking.

Feed efficiency drives growth

Looking at the table’s CAGR rankings, the higher ranked categories are generally the most feed efficient protein producers, and lower ranked are less feed efficient. Feed efficiency is related to production cost. A major exception is turkey, ranked near the CAGR bottom, but more feed efficient than pork.

Another important factor is consumer acceptance. The fastest growing species are almost universally acceptable. That would include all poultry products and fish. Beef and pork both face significant religious and cultural barriers that limit demand in some parts of the world.

This is the 11th article in WATT Global Media’s 100-year anniversary series, which offers a glimpse into the future of protein markets. The next article in the series will explore food safety.

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A glimpse into the future of modern poultry production

Precise nutrition, robotics and the fact that society will force poultry husbandry to go in a different direction will change the face of poultry production.

In the future, poultry husbandry will ultimately go in a direction that will change the face of poultry production.

Read the entire report about the future of modern poultry production in the October 2017 issue of WATT PoultryUSA.

In the last 50 years, the poultry industry has been driven primarily by feed conversion and production costs. In contrast, animal rights, environmental and social issues will play a much larger role in future production decisions. “Will the idea that ‘chicken is chicken’ continue to hold true?” asked Zur Fabian, vice president, Diversified Imports.

From a nutrition perspective, “The main task will be more than simply pushing for better performance,” said Luca Vandi, regional marketing officer at Biomin. Precise nutrition and nutrient evaluation with real-time data will all play a role.

Robotics will be seen across the poultry industry, too, as producers focus on efficiency. Robotics will also be more utilized for bird harvesting and mortality disposal, but will need to become much more animal welfare-oriented.

Extreme biosecurity measures will likely be observed and followed, and human access will be very limited, meaning improved biosecurity. Less contact with chickens contributes to the further reduction of antibiotic use, matching the demand for antibiotic-free products.

Water will also play a major role in the next few decades, so technologies that optimize water usage and supply will need to be developed.

The strong anthropomorphic attitude of society toward animals is having a strong influence in poultry husbandry and production. This new driving force is pushing for changes in equipment, like improved cage-free design, which is rendering progress.

Slow-growing birds and antibiotic-free feed will require closer monitoring of bird health, since birds will be in the houses longer, and the industry will likely need to find organic alternatives to treat birds. Much work is being done on that today, but the demand that the poultry industry will face will probably require looking at synthetic replacements.

You’ll also learn about:

Poultry processor sees success renovating hiring process

Reducing woody breast: latest broiler nutritional research


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This is the 10th article in WATT Global Media’s 100-year anniversary series, which offers a glimpse into the future of modern poultry production. The next article in the series will explore advances in processing technology.

Sustainable poultry production driving industry advances

Poultry producers, already leading in some areas of environmental sustainability, will face growing pressure to minimize their impact as demand for meat continues and eggs intensifies

Broiler and egg producers are facing growing demand for animal protein, but they are also under pressure to be more environmentally sustainable and transparent.

Read the entire report about sustainable poultry production exclusively in the September issue of Poultry International.

Sustainable production in its broadest sense interlinks three dimensions – environmental, social and economic, and companies and policymakers have placed varying emphases on each of these strands.

Within the poultry industry, many companies have already made significant progress in reducing environmental footprints and greening their businesses. However, as demand for animal protein increases, reducing or stabilizing environmental impacts will become more important but harder to achieve, meaning that even businesses with advanced sustainability policies will need to constantly review them.

Poultry genetics businesses have made significant progress in developing birds that make better use of the resources expended on them. The modern broiler or layer is a very different bird from that of only a few decades ago, with better livability, improved growth and feed conversion rates, and higher yields, be it for meat or eggs.

Continued progress will also occur in nutrition, both from the perspective of bird genetics and from a deeper understanding of nutrition itself. As technology develops, it may be possible to include ingredients in diets that, to date, have not proved feasible or economical, and that can be locally sourced. Technological developments should also allow nutrition to be better aligned over the entire growing or laying period.

Sophisticated house management systems, able to control environments and feed and optimize performance, require investment, possibly beyond small producers. Such systems not only regulate inputs but also alert producers to problems.

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This is the ninth article in WATT Global Media’s 100-year anniversary series, which reviews industry advances in sustainability of poultry production. 

Future of poultry processing: Intelligent automation

With increasing sensor capabilities and falling costs for computing power, practical systems are being developed that promise to fully automate tasks as varied as breast deboning and carcass inspection.

Broiler processing plants have the capabilities to automate many tasks, but automation of breast deboning has proven to be more difficult.

Read the entire report about the future of poultry processing exclusively in the August issue of Poultry International.

Early attempts to automate breast deboning in broiler and turkey processing plants were largely unsuccessful. Equipment offerings have been getting more effective at removing meat and minimizing bone breakage, and labor costs have continued to increase. In the European market, where bird sizes are smaller and the labor cost per pound of meat processed is higher, automated breast deboning systems have become widely accepted by broiler processors.

In the U.S., where the live weight of birds raised specifically for deboning routinely exceed 9 pounds (4.1 kilograms) the cost analysis has still generally favored deboning of breast frames on manual cone lines. The statement, “a good cone deboning line can outperform a machine” is still generally accepted, but things are changing.

The cost of robots has dropped significantly, by about half over the past five to 10 years. This is indicative of the drop in the cost of the sensors and computing power needed to operate machinery that can adjust itself on the fly. Another significant factor in the equation will be the increasing cost of labor.

When considering the true cost of labor on a deboning line, much more than just the cost of wages and average benefits for workers need to be considered. Workers compensation costs specific for deboning line employees need to be considered as well as the downtime costs when there are labor shortages.

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This is the eighth article in WATT Global Media’s 100-year anniversary series, which considers the future of poultry processing. The next article in the series will explore industry structure.

Precision poultry nutrition shapes industry’s future

Improved genetics will offer broiler producers growth opportunities, but technological developments will guide a holistic management approach

The predicted growth of poultry production and consumption by 2050 will be made possible by advances in genetics, management and nutrition, including precision nutrition.

Read the entire report about precision nutrition exclusively in the July issue of Poultry International.

Precision nutrition is defined as “the effective utilization of available feed resources with the aim of maximizing the animals’ response to nutrients” by meeting its precise nutritional requirements for optimum protein production.

While holistic feed and farm management isn’t new to poultry production, advancements in supporting technologies are fast-tracking opportunities for producers to better utilize the benefits of precision nutrition.

Here are several areas where precision nutrition will enhance feeding strategies:

  • The role of NIR analysis: Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) equipment utilizes light wavelengths to analyze the nutrient composition of raw materials. NIRS measurements mitigate the economic losses of nutrient variability and allow poultry feed manufacturers to adjust formulations accordingly.
  • New nutrient utilization: Advances in NIR technology have resulted in a larger number of analyzed nutrients and in the development of new nutrients.
  • Feeding for genetics: Similarities in gene expression between the two primary genetics companies can be used as an advantage when it comes to the precise feeding of chickens or “the ability to feed specific genes and deliver nutrients to those genes at the right time and in the right form.”
  • Digestibility adjustments: Different conditions produce different nutritional requirements in chickens. In time, companies will be better equipped to adjust their feed formulations to the circumstances.
  • Raw material rankings: Going beyond the digestibility of nutrients, the post-absorptive processes that rank raw materials based on digestibility coefficients will garner more attention.
  • Business-to-consumer traceability: Precision nutrition systems will introduce semi- or fully automated traceability to the consumer.
  • Technological advancements: In the future, digital technology, automation and artificial intelligence are expected to revolutionize how chickens are fed and raised.

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This is the seventh article in WATT Global Media’s 100-year anniversary series, which considers bird welfare. The next article in the series will explore industry structure.

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Global food companies will control the poultry industry

The poultry industry’s future is big and global as growth slows in mature markets and opportunities are in multinational, food-protein ventures.

In the future, poultry business will need to be global internet businesses to be in business at all. And, they will likely be food companies, not just poultry companies.

Poultry companies in the United States and Western Europe and even places like Brazil and Argentina must face the fact that their local markets are mature. The era of rapidly rising per capita consumption is over in many countries.

The slowdown in the growth of mature domestic markets will encourage poultry companies interested in growth to develop a global marketing and production strategy. The likely strategy is expected to involve a combination of strategic alliances and acquisitions in other countries. It can be expected that just like global automobile companies, global chicken companies will establish production in several countries and market in dozens of countries. They will be big companies; the apprporiate scale of operation for surviving companies is likely to approach 1 billion chickens per year by 2030.

To the extent that globalization is allowed to run its course, investment in new poultry production will increase in those countries that are the most competitive and decrease in those countries that are the least competitive.

And, leading poultry companies of the 21st century will be internet businesses (think Uber versus Yellow Cab). Businesses need to not only use the internet but become internet businesses. To become an internet business is to coordinate business relations with both suppliers and customers in real time.

Web-based relationships may help create virtual integrations in countries without vertical integration and result in some disintegration in highly integrated industries.

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This is the sixth article in WATT Global Media’s 100-year anniversary series, which considers industry structure. The next article in the series will explore nutrition and NIR technology.

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Future of poultry welfare: What producers should expect

Attitudes to poultry welfare still vary greatly from market to market, but ever-more alignment can be expected as interest in animal welfare grows.

Poultry producers can expect welfare pressures to continue growing, probably at a greater pace than they have seen to date, necessitating ongoing changes to broiler and layer management.

Welfare is a focus now not only of governments and interest groups but, increasingly, of multinational companies, and the latter will have ever-greater influence on the future of poultry welfare. Developed-world producers are already confronting a number of challenges that may eventually spread throughout developing markets, with commitments to phase out layer cages, perhaps the most high profile.

For egg producers, this will not simply be new investment, but thoroughly reviewing flock management, and where welfare is concerned, views are mixed on benefits for birds.

Interest in slower-growing birds is a similar example of how welfare attitudes vary greatly between groups, as speed of growth alone is not universally seen as among the best welfare indicators. Nevertheless, welfare-motivated consumer demand in this area continues rising and the industry must respond.

The drivers of welfare are changing. Large corporations are taking a growing role not only in response to consumers, but picking up public sector responsibilities in countries favoring smaller government.

Where one major company leads, others follow. McDonald’s 2015 announcement that all its eggs in the US and Canada would come from cage-free birds was followed by others committing to do the same. This ripple effect continues.

Retailers will also put more demands on producers. It is Europe’s retailers – not legislators – that are bringing an end to enriched cages.

Companies increasingly deem welfare a “key business issue,” says Compassion in World Farming (CIWF). More are signing up to its Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) –  established wtih World Animal Protection and Coller Capital –  designed to drive higher welfare in food business.  The latest BBFAW includes 99 companies.

It will not only be the poultry industry’s clients that drive welfare, but its suppliers too. As the industry becomes increasingly standardized, genetics companies will have little interest in supplying birds that perform poorly in changed production system.

In this issue, you will also learn about:

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This is the fifth article in WATT Global Media’s 100-year anniversary series, which considers bird welfare. The next article in the series will explore industry structure.

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Gut health additives: four possible future scenarios

What does the future hold for the business of gut health additives over the next decade?

Exclusive Feed Management preview:

What will the future hold for the gut health additives business in the years to come? The global feed additives business is growing at record speed, and it is estimated to exceed USD$20 billion within a few years. Gut health additives certainly make an increasing proportion of this market as other products, such as amino acids and flavors, appear to have reached maturity.

Read the entire article about the future of the gut health additives business in the March/April issue of Feed Management.

If we were to consider the business of gut health additives for the next decade, we would have to ponder over all possibilities, even the most extreme. It is logical to assume that each scenario has its own proponents, especially when jobs and businesses are affected by the success or failure of all other possible scenarios. This remains a fluid market where all outcomes are possible.

In this article, you will explore these four possible senarios:

  1. Nothing will change
  2. A super additive will emerge
  3. Microbes will produce their own additives
  4. New drugs will emerge

In this issue, you will also learn about:

4 feed formulation software trends shaping animal nutrition
Feed phytogenic market growth shaped by global views

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This is the fourth article in WATT Global Media’s 100-year anniversary series, which considers four possible future scenarios for gut health additives. The next article in the series will explore bird welfare.

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The future of poultry health: New and old challenges

Experts predict the major poultry health challenges over the next few decades will be caused by endemic avian influenza and Newcastle viruses, cage-free egg production, and antibiotic-free growing programs.

In the future, endemic viruses such as avian influenza and Newcastle, and the impact of new trends in poultry and egg production will be the focal points of avian health.

Respiratory and enteric diseases will continue to shape the poultry industry; avian flu has evolved to become the No. 1 concern among the catastrophic infectious diseases in poultry.

While the poultry industry has grown in Asia and Africa, those regions do not address disease like the U.S. and Europe do. By not eradicating the avian flu virus, it continues to spread and mutates, so it becomes a problem around the world.

Another concern is Newcastle disease (ND). There are ways to control ND, including vaccines, biosecurity measures, and mobilization controls of products and byproducts.

There is increasing consumer pressure to produce chicken and eggs raised without antibiotics (also referred to as antibiotic-free or ABF) in mature markets. In fact, many restaurant, hotel and supermarket chains have stated that they will only buy chicken and turkey from farms that have never been treated with antibiotics.

Ionophores, a major group of coccidiostats used to control coccidiosis and necrotic enteritis, are antibiotics. This creates a major challenge in ABF production.

The other major problem in ABF production is respiratory diseases that turn more complicated with colibacillosis. It is expected that more airsacculitis problems will arise.

The conversion to cage-free egg production has brought back some disease issues not seen in decades. Access to the outdoors can cause other health issues.

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This is the third article in WATT Global Media’s 100-year anniversary series, which considers the future of poultry health. The next article in the series will explore four possible future scenarios for gut health additives.

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Seed biotechnology: The impact on animal production

Over the course of two decades, genetically modified (GM) crops have offered many benefits to farmers, consumers and the environment, including the use of fewer pesticides, larger yields and lower food and animal feed costs.

Read the entire article to learn more about the key areas of seed biotech research

The world is facing very real challenges that may prompt further exploration into the potential of seed biotechnology. By 2050, food production will have to increase by 70 percent to feed a global population of 9.7 billion. To do so will require intensification in crop and animal protein production.

For those working in animal agriculture and its allied industries, the availability, quality and price of feedstuffs is an evergreen concern. Looking to the future, the following innovations will play a large part in securing a sustainable and abundant cereal supply. However, in the short term, GM seed technology must overcome a series of significant obstacles.

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Four areas of seed biotechnology innovation that will directly affect the producer’s margins and improve animal health:

  1. SUPPLY: Higher yields
  2. PROXIMITY: Climate adaptability
  3. SAFETY: Mycotoxin resistance
  4. NUTRITION: Nutrient manipulation

Threats to progress:

  1. Cost of regulation
  2. Consumer’s perception
  3. Labeling laws

Despite long-term challenges, food industries likely will prevail in shifting the public dialogue out of sheer necessity. Read the full article to find out more.

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This is the second article in WATT Global Media’s 100-year anniversary series.

The full article can be read in February issues of Poultry International, WATTPoultryUSA, and Egg Industry.

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Future of poultry breeding, balanced genetic selection

Economically important traits will improve as balanced selection efforts result in broilers and layers that perform well and have high welfare under a variety of management and nutritional regimens.

In the developed world the broiler and layer industries have birds with high performance measures for livability, growth rate, feed conversion, yield and other factors. However, activist groups and consumers have a heightened interest in animal welfare and transparency, so poultry producers are being challenged to manage their flocks with that in mind.

Fortunately, poultry breeding companies recognized these consumer and activist trends years ago and began adapting their selection programs to produce genetic stock that is adaptable to multiple housing situations and has improved performance on bird welfare measures.

The movement out of cages for laying hens started in Europe, but is rapidly spreading to North America. Lying hen strains have proven adaptable to cage-free environments because breeders started adding

This article examines other factors in laying hens, such as feather coverage on laying hens and beak shape, and looks at genetic solutions being developed in the broiler industry to produce the bird of tomorrow.

This is the first article in WATT Global Media’s 100-year anniversary series, which looks at key drivers that will shape the future of the worldwide poultry industry.

The full article can be read in January issues of Poultry International, WATTPoultryUSA, and Egg Industry.

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