Changes to nutrition strategies could reduce woody breast

Published Monday, 16th January 2017
Changes to nutrition strategies could reduce woody breast

The release of nutrients through phytase superdosing, combined with nutrients that support the antioxidant status of the animal, are emerging as focuses in the search for tools and strategies to counter the effects of woody breast in poultry. 

The exact cause of woody breast, a muscle myopathy affecting the quality, texture and colour of chicken breast meat, is currently unknown – although initial research points to genetics and fast growth rates. 

Dr Tara York, AB Vista Technical Manager for the US, says that amid the wide variety of studies underway aimed at determining the cause, the most recent unpublished studies encourage the view that dietary manipulations can reduce the incidence of woody breast. 

“Although a novel concept, recent studies evaluating the impact of trace minerals and antioxidants in combination with feeding higher levels of phytase, suggest they may reduce the incidence and severity of woody breast.”

Understanding a complex issue

"Woody breast is a complex issue, and there doesn’t appear to be an easy fix – but superdosing influences many areas of nutrition, and our initial research suggests when you combine superdosing with other factors that support the antioxidants system, such as zinc and Vitamin E, there is some success in reducing the severity of the condition. Essentially the condition may be alleviated because we are aiding the bird’s ability to cope with environmental and metabolic stress while also supporting the increased demand for these nutrients for growth rate and breast muscle development.”

Dr York explores these novel approaches in a new video, ‘Nutritional strategies to improve breast meat quality’, available on AB Vista’s website. The video features an exclusive interview, along with extracts of Dr York’s presentation from November’s International Phytate Summit - an event that focused on strategies for formulating with minerals and amino acids in the presence of phytate. 

Dr York says the summit formed part of the company’s collaborative approach to understanding how nutrition can help the industry to overcome current challenges such as woody breast.

“As an industry the more we expect from the broiler, the more we need to invest to ensure we accomplish our goal in an effective manner.” 

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