Welcome to Poultry@Sydney!

By Mingan Choct

This newsletter will highlight the happenings at the Poultry Research Foundation (PRF) within The University of Sydney on a regular basis. We encourage you to share our articles with relevant friends and colleagues who can subscribe here to join the PRF mailing list.

Poultry research at The University of Sydney has a long and distinguished history. The PRF was established in 1958 and has made significant contributions to the advancement and practice of poultry science globally. For instance, the characterisation of the role of biotin in the aetiology of the Fatty Liver and Kidney Syndrome in the late 1960s to early 1970s by Dr Charles Payne; the identification of the low metabolisable energy wheat phenomenon by Dr Anne Rogel during her PhD program in the early 1980s and its subsequent elucidation in the late 1980s to early 1990s (Annison et al.), which contributed significantly to the widespread use of xylanases in the later years. The impact of environmental temperature on amino acid requirements of broilers as well as the importance of dietary electrolyte balance gained world-wise acceptance thanks to the research led by Dr Derrick Balnave between the 1980-1990s. During this period, our flagship conference, the Australian Poultry Science Symposium (APSS) was launched. Indeed the PRF’s annual symposium has become a must-attend conference for poultry scientists and industry practitioners from all across the globe and its reputation significantly enhanced by Dr Peter Groves and the dedicated APSS devotees, Jo-Ann Geist and Benjamin Geist over the past twenty years. More will be written about APSS in future issues of Poultry@Sydney.

In the 1990s, the digestibility of different proteins and the subsequent utilisation of their amino acids received a lot of attention. The PRF again led the way and Dr Bryden and Dr Ravindran produced the first table on ileal amino acid digestibility values for feedstuffs for poultry, which was used widely by industry. In the meantime, systematic and in-depth research was conducted on phytase to elucidate its mechanism of action as well as its practical application by Dr Ravindran and Dr Selle throughout the late 1990s to early 2000s. Their joint review in Animal Feed Science and Technology has attracted more than 1000 citations. More recently, a series of ground-breaking studies on poultry nutrition using the geometric framework for nutrition approach were initiated by Dr Aaron Cowieson and further developed by Dr Sonia Liu. Also, Dr Wendy Muir’s work on the interaction between body size and nutrient density in early lay and its influence on the life-long productivity of laying hens has been well recognised by the egg industry.

Of course, these are only a few examples of how The University of Sydney has been at the frontier of poultry science for more than six decades that helped improve the efficiency, profitability and sustainability of the commercial egg and broiler meat production. The success of the PRF could not have been possible without having skilled and dedicated technical staff like Mrs Joy Gill who has given her unwavering support to the Foundation for nearly five decades. Regrettably it is not possible for me to acknowledge each and every one who has contributed to the Foundation over the years and I refer you to a special issue of APSS published in 2008, which details the first 50 years of the Poultry Research Foundation.

Today, our poultry research and training are responding aptly to technological and societal demands as the poultry industry enters a new era of complex challenges. It is all about ethical production of clean and green animal proteins for human consumption with a sustainability focus at all times. This requires innovative, cross-disciplinary research programs that use state-of-the art tools and techniques to solve complex problems of tomorrow; it also requires us to think hard about workforce development and succession planning because the industry not only needs people to do the work but also people with the right training and skills to do the job.

I am delighted to say that The University of Sydney continues to excel in poultry research and training. We have many exciting new projects happening in the area of nutrition led by Dr Sonia Liu and her team (Dr Mehdi Toghyani, Dr Shemil Macelline, Jojo Wang, Carria Xie and Milan Kandel); egg quality and hen nutrition, health and welfare by Dr Wendy Muir and Dr Yeasmin Akter, and poultry health and disease led by Dr Peter Groves and his team (Christine Clarke, Yuanshuo Gao). Please check the Poultry Research Foundation site for more information.

I look forward to your interaction and welcome your frank feedback.


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