Story in Brief
Increased consumer demand for food produced without antibiotics has led the poultry industry to move towards antibiotic-free production, with an estimated 50 percent of broiler flocks raised in a “no antibiotics ever” program. With these regulatory and societal pressures in place, producers need strategies that maintain production efficiency and improve flock uniformity in the absence of antibiotics. UGA poultry scientists found that intestinal physiology plays a critical role in influencing efficiency of feed nutrient use in broiler chickens through altering the bird’s ability to digest and absorb dietary glucose and amino acids. Successful development and implementation of strategies that improve feed conversion ratio by even a few points would substantially improve profit margins for broiler producers, because feed accounts for over 70 percent of their production cost. As increases in feed conversion are likely reflective of shifts in nutrient partitioning that favor muscle accretion over fat deposition, such strategies would further increase production efficiency by enhancing meat production.