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Achieving optimum performance in young turkeys

Ag News Wire
By Sally Noll, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. PAUL, Minn. (11/5/2012) —Minnesota remains the number one producer of turkeys in the United States with 46.5 million turkeys raised last year. It has been a challenging year for producers with feed costs so much higher than last year, and this trend of increasing feeds costs is expected to continue. During this time of high feed costs, profitability can hinge on the turkeys achieving performance as close as possible to their genetic potential.

To assist producers in identifying ways for their flocks to more closely reach their genetic potential, University of Minnesota Extension initiated field trials involving other poultry scientists at the University of Minnesota and in cooperation with the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. The field trial indicated that the period of time that included after hatch to two weeks of age was particularly critical for the turkey poult's (baby turkey) future growth.

This finding resulted in a new emphasis being placed on research that improves poult performance through nutrition and feeding. Because of the capability of the young turkey poult to grow so quickly, this has posed the question as to whether the poult requires a more specialized diet for the first two weeks of development. Now a focus has been placed on getting back to the basics in terms of determining if previously determined nutritional needs have changed, and if so what will be the impact on the turkey's future growth.

Another question that currently is being examined is related to the composition of the diet, in terms of discovering if there are some feed ingredients that are better for the poult diet than others. The research has demonstrated long-lasting effects due to the type of diet initially fed relative to its protein content, essential for muscle growth. Likewise, a modification of the soybean meal to remove some of the sugars that poults can't digest was found to improve initial performance. The research confirms the importance of the first two weeks as critical for subsequent turkey performance.

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Any use of this article must include the byline or following credit line:

Sally Noll is a poultry specialist with University of Minnesota Extension

Media Contact: Catherine Dehdashti, U of M Extension, (612) 625-0237,

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