EuroTier 2012: Jules Tournut Probiotics Prize

On November 13th 2012, at EUROTIER tradeshow, The European Probiotic Association (EPA) awarded the Jules Tournut Probiotics Prize 2012 to Peter de Schryver, from Ghent University, for his innovative research project on the use of microbial products and microorganisms in animal nutrition. The Prize was awarded in presence of members of the EPA, FEFANA, representative of the EPA Scientific Committee and journalists. Altogether, the quality and diversity of research projects submitted demonstrate that probiotics benefits go beyond zootechnical performance and pave the way for innovative applications in the field of immunity, but also stress management or even reproduction.

From left to right : J. Brufau (EPA Scientific Committee), E. Auclair (EPA Treasurer), P. de Schryver and L. Dussert (EPA President). 

The aim of the EPA Jules Tournut Prize is to support research and innovation in the field of probiotics for animal nutrition. Professor Joaquim Brufau, from IRTA, who represented EPA Scientific Committee, which formed the judging panel of the award, highlighted the scientific quality and diversity of applications explored by the candidates, who came from all over the world, beyond the boundary of Europe. The studies submitted covered a range of target species and benefits, sign of the broad potential of probiotics for sustainable animal production.

Peter de Schryver’s project aimed at improving performance and welfare in aquaculture thanks to an original approach: the use of poly-β- hydroxybutyrate (PHB), which he describes as a microbial energy storage polymer, an important source of energy for bacteria. PHB thus appears to play a prebiotic role in aquatic species, resulting in improved performance and resistance to pathogens. By combining this compound to a probiotic bacteria (synbiotic approach), the young researcher showed that both agents had a synergistic effect to protect fish against pathogens (use of Artemia franciscana as a well-studied model of aquaculture specie).

Nevertheless, when asked if this new approach could be applied to various species Peter de Schryver reckons that “it could certainly work in land farmed animals that have an even more developed digestive system”. The use of PHB in synbiotic approach for animal nutrition thus appears as a promising field.

Moreover, the young researcher is convinced that, especially in aquaculture, the digestive microbiota is often underestimated. Another interesting aspect of his study is that he looked into the Artemia microbiota richness and diversity and found that PHB had a positive effect on the microbiota diversity and evenness, an asset for microflora stability and protection against pathogens

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UK Grains Harvest 2012: What we already knew…

The global price of wheat has increased by an astounding 30% over the past 12 months – which according to the UK based National Farmers Union (NFU), has put massive pressure on farmers who buy grain to feed their livestock.

NFU President Peter Kendal was discussing the worst wheat growth in the UK since the 1980’s when he said, “The challenge for the pig and poultry market is trying to make sure that retailers pay a fair price, because in pigs 50% of the cost is grain, poultry it’s 60% – and these farmers at the moment, because the prices haven’t responded yet, they’re actually saying I’m not going to fill my sheds with poultry or pigs any more.”

The problems faced by farmers in the UK and the global increase in wheat prices are both adding to fears over rises in food prices reports the BBC News wesbsite. But The extreme weather has taken its toll on the amount of food produced and the quality of food and grain.

Martyn Jones, from the Morrisons supermarket chain, said that, for example, carrots were not quite as sweet as previous years, and the available volumes of some food was down – about 25% across most potatoes and root crops.

The worst hit areas in the UK this summer were in the South-West where a huge proportion of  UK crops are produced. Ian Johnson, south-west England spokesman for the NFU, said this year’s weather had led to a “mixed picture” for arable farmers.

He said while wheat crops had suffered, winter barley yields were up 1.6%; spring barley yields were down 7.4% and oilseed rape yields were up 5.9%.

But still for some such as Paul Harris, an arable farmer in Dorset, the difficulties look set to continue. He said, “I’ve been farming now for 40 years and it’s the worst harvest I have ever known.”

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