Researchers in England and Denmark say they have discovered how to breed wheat naturally to produce high levels of phytase, an enzyme needed to release the phosphorous vital for healthy bone growth in chickens.
Although they do not say so, it could also be useful in hog rations, reducing the need for supplemental phosphorous and changing hog manure so more could be spread per hectare without threatening Great Lakes pollution.
Nutritionists have ensured correct mineral balance in the diet of chickens through supplements, but phosphorous supplementation is expensive, according to researchers at Nottingham Trent University in England and Aarhus University in Denmark.
The scientists conducted a poultry nutrition trial to compare the new source of phytase to traditional poultry diet formulations. They found that inclusion of the high phytase wheat in poultry feed is a highly effective way to unlock the phosphorous in the diet for use by the animal.
“Aiming for high phytase activity in wheat grains has been a key research target for many years. Reaching it was a milestone, but seeing that it works well in animal feeding is extremely satisfactory,” Henrik Brinch-Pedersen of Aarhus University’s Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics said in a press release.
The phytase issue is what prompted researchers at the University of Guelph to breed a transgenic pig that could release the enzyme in its saliva. The Enviropig has yet to clear all government regulatory hurdles for marketplace acceptance, and the research and development team has given up on that project.