Article Text

Short Communication
Feathering abnormalities in bronze turkeys associated with amino acid deficiencies in organic diets
  1. C. D. Parker, BA, VetMB, CertPMP, MRCVS1,
  2. C. Nixey, BSc(Agric), MAgrSc, PhD2 and
  3. S. Urwin, ND(Agric)3
  1. Slate Hall Veterinary Practice, Unit 7, Highgate Farm, Over Road, Willingham, Cambridgeshire CB24 5EU, UK
  2. Poultry Xperience, Weetwood Farm, Tarporley, Cheshire CW6 0NQ, UK
  3. Green Label Farms, Loomswood Farm, Debach, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP13 6JW, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence daniel{at}

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EUROPEAN Council Regulation 834/2007 prohibits the use of supplementary amino acids such as DL-methionine and lysine hydrochloride in the diets of organic livestock. As a result, organic poultry diets cannot be formulated as close to the birds' amino acid requirements as in conventional diets. This results in the inclusion of excessive protein to achieve the required levels of essential amino acids. As the protein content is expensive, it can result in diets that are marginal or even deficient in essential amino acids being formulated, resulting in production prooblems and potential welfare issues for the birds.

Current EU organic regulations allow up to 5 per cent of the plant-derived ingredients to have not been grown organically. This does help poultry nutritionists alleviate some of the adverse aspects of supplementary amino acid exclusion by using ingredients such as maize gluten, which is not available organically. However, from January 1, 2012, all plant ingredients in organic diets must have been grown organically.

This short communication reports an episode of poor feathering in organic turkeys associated with amino acid deficiency.

Since the production type was organic, the breed placed on the farm was a slower-growing Kelly bronze variety. The birds were placed on August 24, 2010. The poult start was poorer than standard, …

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