Heat stress, meat quality and dietary management in broilers

The poultry industry is a fast-growing industry in Pakistan with an annual growth rate of7.5% per annum over the past decade. 

Pakistan has attained the 11th position among the largest poultry producers in the world. 

According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan, the annual meat production stood at 1846,000 tonnes in 2020-2021. However, being in the tropical zone, poultry production in the country is greatly affected by heat stress due to high ambient temperature and high humidity levels.  The prevailing power energy crisis in the country further aggravates the condition and increases the managemental costs. 

In addition to production, heat stress has an extremely negative impact on the quality of poultry meat.

Another burning issue is antimicrobial resistance due to which various countries of the world have banned the use of antibiotic growth promoters in poultry feed, which were being used to counter the stress induced health issues in poultry.

This ban on the use of antibiotic growth promoters in feed made the poultry more vulnerable to the adverse effects of heat stress.

This urged a need to discover the potential of various nutritional products to minimize heat stress-induced losses in terms of the quantity and quality of poultry meat. 

Keeping in view the aforementioned problems, the Department of Physiology, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore, under the supervision of Prof Dr Habib ur Rehman has carried out extensive research studies to document the beneficial effects of Prebiotic (β-Galactooligosaccharides) and amino acid (methionine) supplementation in poultry.

β-GOS is a prebiotic that acts as a food source for the body-friendly microflora in the gut, while methionine is an essential amino acid that helps in muscle protein deposition.  During the research study, β-GOS and methionine in various dosage combinations were fed to groups of broilers kept under normal and heat stress environments. 

The results showed that feeding broilers with β-GOS and methionine are beneficial in improving the production and quality of meat in poultry. 

The research suggests that the inclusion of these dietary supplements has significant potential to enhance the production and quality of poultry meat under heat stress conditions. 

Moreover, the implication of this research will be of great value in providing consumers with high-quality poultry meat at affordable prices.

The writer is a PhD scholar at the Department of Physiology, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore.

Sohrab Ahmad