Poultry research shows that naked oats provide more critical amino acids than corn and reduces the overall cost of rations.
Michael Lilburn, from The Ohio State University Department of Animal Sciences, described his work under an ongoing four-year USDA grant. Collaborators include educators in soil and plant health, economics, organics and environmental studies. Also taking part are a poultry processor and three organic producers.
Lilburn explained in a webinar that some amino acids necessary for poultry meat and egg proteins are available only through diet.
Methionine is the single most important amino acid, and organic managers include soybean meal or synthetic methionine to provide it. This frustrates many within the organics community because of the National Organic Standards Board’s limits on synthetics, he said.
The Ohio State research is testing the use of naked oats, which thresh clean from the husk, as a primary cereal. Compared with corn, naked oats have more methionine per unit of protein and an increased concentration of total protein. It also has more fat, fiber and lysine.
Farmers involved in the research reported that including the naked oats reduced their overall cost of rations by $130 to $160 a ton, Lilburn said.
Two birds were used: commercial broilers, which are bred for appetite, and RedBro broilers, which are popular in pastured poultry in the Midwest and East.
Because organic poultry is purchased for the “eating experience,” he said, producers should focus on the quality of the product.
“We shouldn’t have a mind set to grow birds as fast as possible,” Lilburn said. “We use alternative ingredients to have them grow in a uniform, healthy fashion and minimize the cost of production, even if it takes another week or more.”
In a preliminary experiment, researchers compared a standard corn/soy diet with naked oat blends. All birds were fed a similar diet till three weeks of age:
• Birds raised on a blend of 65 percent corn/28 percent soy yielded higher carcass crude protein, less carcass dry matter and less drip loss that ones raised on naked oat blends. Drip loss is the percentage of weight lost in fluid as frozen meat is thawed.
• A diet of 65 percent naked oats/31 percent full-fat soy, which is heat-treated with extrusion process and is usually available commercially, Lilburn said. This group had the highest amount of dietary crude protein.
• Birds fed 85 percent naked oats/10 percent full-fat soy showed similar results to the 65/31 group, but drip loss was somewhat higher.
Later studies to explore what different levels of naked oats would accomplish showed optimum results at 75 percent naked oats/20.6 percent full-fat soy.
Some differences were seen between the commercial birds and the RedBros:
• The RedBros took up to two weeks longer to reach 4 pounds dressed weight;
• The RedBros had less fat and less weight loss in processing; and
• The RedBros were more subject to hot weather.