Precision nutrition in poultry: Examining the interplay between enzyme, vitamin and trace mineral supplements

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Nottingham Trent University
Closed 6 months ago (14 Nov)  

An exciting opportunity has arisen through a 3.5 year, fully funded poultry nutrition PhD studentship jointly funded by Alltech and Nottingham Trent University; primarily based at the University’s Brackenhurst Campus. The poultry nutrition team at NTU is a well-established, vibrant research group with superb facilities and immense technical and academic expertise in poultry nutrition and health. We have been commended by Research Councils UK for the pipeline of high calibre scientists emerging from our group.
Alltech is a family-owned and family-operated organisation with nearly 40 years of experience and a 6,000-strong team spanning more than 120 countries. Alltech aims to improve plant, feed and food quality through nutrition and scientific innovation, particularly yeast-based technology. Nottingham Trent University has recently been awarded University of the Year (Times Higher), Modern University of the Year (Sunday Times), and received a Gold award in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). It is renowned for leading edge research, strong links with industry and excellent teaching that shapes lives and society.
Worldwide, 35 percent more demand for animal protein in the next 20 years is predicted. Poultry meat represents around 36% of global meat production and has the smallest carbon footprint of any meat. As we seek to minimise global resource use and environment impact in animal production, the margin between under and oversupply of each dietary nutrient in poultry feed becomes ever smaller. Precision in nutrient supply is essential to ensure the health of the 900 million meat birds reared annually in the UK alone. Where previously, research investigations tend to consider each micro-ingredient in isolation, this project will examine how key dietary elements, such as trace minerals, affect efficacy of each other.
Phosphorus is a key nutrient for poultry: undersupply leads to impaired skeletal development but oversupply contributes to environmental pollution. A second layer of complexity comes from variation in form of phosphorus. Plant materials contain phosphorus but in a form that birds cannot use: phytate phosphorus. Therefore, the bird must be offered either a mineral form of phosphorus that it can easily use, or aided in breaking down the phytate into usable phosphorus. Two forces are driving the poultry sector to decrease dietary inclusion of mineral phosphates in favour of phytases. Firstly, finite global supply of phosphates and supply chain insecurity have increased their cost, and secondly, a desire to minimise the environmental footprint of poultry production.
Very little information is available comparing the potential antagonisms, which can occur between different mineral sources and enzymes within premixes, as well as the repercussions that this might have in terms of nutrient availability to the bird. Increasing both our understanding of how extrinsic factors impact on phytase efficacy and also how phytase itself influences other key nutrients will increase the precision of our nutrient supply to poultry. The PhD project will begin by assessing the gap between P supply and requirement in growing meat chickens. Subsequent trials will assess vitamin and mineral interactions by quantifying the impact of premix/feed storage on micro-ingredient efficacy and may potentially assess the impact of mineral source on Vitamin E availability.

The PhD programme will allow the applicant to experience a wide range of established and emerging techniques that underpin research in animal production and develop their practical skills in a supportive environment. The work will provide much scope for independence, publication and attendance at scientific conferences and would be expected to lead to high impact outputs.

To be eligible to apply, you must hold an MSc or BSc Hons (2:1 or above) in Animal Science or a relevant discipline and also must be classed as a UK Home or EU student. Applicants should outline in the application form how their skills and attributes will help them to achieve the objectives outlined in the research proposal document. The ability to drive in the UK would be advantageous in this studentship to maximise opportunities for engagement with the industrial sponsor. For informal discussions, please contact
Applicants are required to submit a completed application form and a research proposal document of not more than 1000 words including references that academically contextualises this research field and explains how current and emerging techniques may be used to address the objectives outlined above.

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