Addressing the challenges and changes in poultry production systems.
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Poultry production in the United States is facing a major change in the cost of inputs (energy and feedstuffs). "Feeding programs and production goals are continually changing" and "greater emphasis will have to be placed on both early and late-phase (broiler) nutrition" (Leeson, 2012). These changes necessitate a thorough examination of all aspects of production systems. The primary source of energy in poultry rations is corn. The higher price of corn is resulting in a downward trend in energy levels in rations. "The key to successful use of lower- energy diets lies in prediction of change in feed intake and corresponding adjustment to all other nutrients in the diet" (Leeson, 2012). The egg laying industry is also facing similar challenges. Without adaptation of all nutrient levels in the diet, there will be excesses of some nutrients that could exacerbate the issues of waste management and water quality in areas near application sites. This is occurring in the face of a rising need for more detailed information regarding the carbon balance of poultry production systems. Cline, 2007 details an extensive effort to model the effects of climate change on agriculture and notes that the impact of carbon (both positive and negative) will be crucial to exacerbating the impacts of climate change. For this and other reasons, there will be a much greater need for an understanding of the fate of carbon in poultry production systems. Methodologies are yet to be established. In addition, the accountability of the industry will continue to be questioned. Responsibilities for environmental stewardship, judicious use of pharmaceuticals and appropriate animal care will remain a primary focus of poultry management in the future. In order to remain at the forefront of global poultry production, the industry will require new research-based information regarding adaptations to current production methods as well as adoption of new technologies and production strategies.