As the “bird” evolves and genetics improve, poultry nutritionists like Dr. Sam Rochell at the University of Arkansas’s Center of Excellence for Poultry Science are working to match their constantly changing nutrient requirements while minimizing excreted nutrients. The Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board and the Arkansas checkoff funds support his work.
Broiler chickens account for 35 percent of all agricultural cash receipts in Arkansas, with approximately 60 percent – 70 percent of live production costs going toward feed. So Rochell, assistant professor of poultry nutrition, and his team are hitting the lab to find a way to minimize cost in a healthy way for the chickens and increase economic effects.
Soybean meal is a rich source of amino acids and energy, which Rochell said are some of the most costly nutrients. He and his team are constantly refining the nutritional profile to reach the meal’s full potential. The amino acid profile of soybean meal and corn complement each other so well they are almost the complete package when trying to match what the chickens need. Like humans, the chickens are provided nutritional supplements to provide a complete feed. For Rochell, he knows there’s always room for improvement, so he and his team are trying to optimize and tap into soybean meal’s potential to help the chickens utilize the meal better and improve the economic and environmental sustainability of the industry.
Trying to separate different varieties of soybean meal at the elevator or poultry feed mills would be difficult at best. Through technology and looking at soybean meal from a producer’s perspective to properly analyze the value of soybean meal, Rochell said it might make it more cost-effective from a logistical standpoint to utilize the soybean meal available before producing new varieties.
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To learn more about the research conducted to help Arkansas’s soybean producers increase yields and remain sustainable, watch the full Field to Film Featured Research series here.