Perspectives and Challenges in Turkey Production in Latin America

Rodrigo Castillo, Agrícola Ariztía from Chile, was in charge of the presentation on "Perspectives and Challenges in Turkey Production in Latin America" during theLPN Congress 2018.

Undoubtedly, the production of turkeys at an industrial level is something about which there is not much information, in addition to the few scientific and research publications that help to improve and obtain the maximum genetic potential of the species, the size of the birds and the yield per square meter, among other characteristics, are parameters to consider when a producer decides to get involved in this business.

Introduction

The yield per square meter is 15% less per year than a broiler. This is why the production of turkeys is not an accessible business compared to its "brother" of the genre, that are broiler chickens. Already from reproduction, they are entirely different (natural mating vs. artificial insemination), average feed value (much more expensive in turkeys), and consumer eating habits.

It is very unlikely that a person could eat turkey for a whole week, but it is possible that it was chicken meat. So these are some examples of the limitations we find ourselves in when deciding to venture into the business with these birds.

But there are always alternatives that can allow us to be competitive, innovate and make turkey meat attractive.

Turkey vs. Chicken

We first need to stop thinking that turkeys are the same as chickens because although they both have feathers, they are quite different, starting with their size. Although both species are birds, they have other characteristics.

One of the first things we must do is meet our leading actor, THE TURKEY.

Its scientific name is Meleagris gallopavo, and it is native to North America, mainly covering the areas of Canada, the USA, and Mexico.

Currently, meat breeds are concentrated in two large genetic houses, Nicholas and Hybrid, where the selection pressure has been focused mainly on having birds with better meat conversion and yield.

Turkey performance indicators

If we review some global and regional indicators regarding Turkey's performance, we find the following:

  • Per capita consumption in the USA is 7.3 kg/year, the highest in the world. Canada follows it with 4.3 kg/year. In the case of Latin America, Brazil has a consumption of 0.4 kg/year, Mexico 1.7 kg/year, and Chile 4.1 kg/year.
  • The USA is the leading country producing turkey meat, with almost 50% of world production, followed by France and Germany. On the South American side, production is headed by Brazil. Emerging countries as producers are Russia and Poland.

A not-minor and very relevant issue is the cost of production per live kilo of a turkey vs. a grilled chicken. While for the first, the value fluctuates close to USD 1.07 per live kilo versus USD 0.8 per live kilo for the second.

Production cost

This difference of 33% more than cost only in primary production presents us with the first great challenge: looking at alternatives to deliver added value to the product that we bring to the market.

Processing plants

Another issue we must look at is what happens with our product once it is dead. Will we be taking advantage of its full potential?

The genetic progress of turkey in recent years has been driven by an intense selection pressure to improve feed conversion and higher live weight, which is mainly due to the noblest cut of turkey, the breast.

  • 1. Carcass performance

Getting the animal to express its full potential depends on a perfect balance between the environment, health, and nutrition. One of the things that can tip the producer's balance to opt for the production of turkeys is the higher yield of the carcass compared to chicken.

For example, a 3.2 kg live male broiler has a carcass yield close to 77% and a % breast meat of 25%. For a 20 kg live male turkey, its carcass yield is 79%, and the % of breast meat is 27%.

As you can see, we have much more breast meat than a broiler, and by the way, it is the one with the most significant demand and for which more is paid, but the problem is not the white meat of turkeys, but the dark meat (legs).

This is where we must use the available technology to review alternatives, such as arriving with the product ready for consumption, manufacturing products with different flavors, and making ground meat, sausages, hams, etc.

  • 2. Carcass quality

Another point that we must keep in mind is the "quality" of turkey meat. Most of the turkey's fat is found under the skin and not between the muscle fibers, making it much leaner and easier to clean.

For example, 100 grams of turkey meat provide 1.5 grams of fat versus 20 grams in the case of beef and 7 grams for pork, to name a few examples.

Under these attributes stated above, it is interesting to focus the consumption of this animal protein in populations of infants and children, such as "healthy" hamburgers or the elderly as something "light" and therefore healthy.

Turkey meat consumer

Regularly consuming turkey meat helps control cholesterol, maintain a proper weight, and is an easily digestible protein.

Under this same perspective, the prudent and rational use of antibiotics can allow us to find market niches that may still be emerging. Still, it will surely be tacit conditions when the consumer chooses the shorter rather than longer term.

The incursion into the millennial market is a critical issue in the sustainability of any company.

How they see the product they are buying is not enough, they want to know more about its history, how it was made, and under what conditions the animal was raised and processed (antibiotics and animal welfare, to name a few examples) are essential when buying.

Regarding animal welfare, we can point out that there is a growing concern on the part of consumers for the welfare of farm animals; consumers perceive a problem in the management of animals and require more and more information on what is understood as the ethical quality of the products. But now companies, instead of considering animal welfare as a threat, see it as a business opportunity, which is being incorporated into market strategies.

Increase well-being, improve business efficiency, meet consumer expectations, and meet market demands. This can be achieved with constant work by companies with training programs and investment in structural issues.

Additionally, it is essential to work on good animal welfare practices, following guidelines of local and international recommendations, certifying production in terms of animal welfare, and providing the necessary guarantees to the market and consumers.

Another issue that is also important is the sanitary challenges that we can face in turkey production. Among the main problems, we have the following to name the most relevant:

  1. Histomoniasis or Blackhead: this disease produced by the protozoan Histomina Meleagridis can manifest at any stage, but it is much more severe in males. Although females also show signs, the increase in mortality is very slight. If treatment is not performed, morbidity and mortality can reach 100%.
  2. Salmonella spp: although it does not cause sanitary problems in animals, it is a limiting factor when marketing meat.
  3. Pasteurella Multocida: for which the main thing is a correct diagnosis, isolation, and serotyping of the isolated strain to determine if the vaccines available on the market confer protection or otherwise develop autovaccines if the cases are repetitive. Quinillones (Enrofloxacin) respond favorably and manage to control the infection. The primary tool is reasonable pest control and biosecurity.
  4. Mycoplasma Gallisepticum: it is also a high-impact disease as it is very contagious and acts as a precursor to more severe secondary bacterial conditions that can end with the death of the animals and generate high seizures in the processing plant.
  5. OTR/TRT: they are also observed, mainly during the winter, when the pavilions are closed more, as well as enteritis (Clostridium) symptoms that are generally preceded by some stressful factor (water cut, ventilation failure, etc.).

These are some of the most recurring problems that one can be faced, but the primary tool to avoid the appearance of this or to control it is good Biosecurity in the facilities.

There must be documented protocols for the entry and exit of people and vehicles, vegetation control around our facilities and vectors, all material that enters or leaves must be washed and disinfected, change of clothes and ideal shower, cleaning and disinfection procedures for the facilities once the breeding and fattening are finished, etc…

Conclusion

In conclusion, turkey production is a branch of poultry farming in which many things remain to be investigated and carried out; where many experiences are adapted from broilers, but it must never be forgotten that they are another type of bird.

Turkeys are not necessarily going to respond in the same way, and therefore we work to answer questions and be able to make turkey a real, healthy, and affordable alternative.

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Profesionales del sector

Industry Professionals

US$ 625 US$ 840
  • Production Managers
  • Producers and veterinarians of poultry production companies
  • Hatcheries
  • Nutricionistas - formuladores (se excluyen empresas de premix, correctores y alimentos de primeras edades)
  • Production Managers

Entrada Congresual
Coffee Break, Almuerzo
Vista libre de la Expo
Material del congreso
Cena de gala Inaugural

Proveedores

Suppliers

US$ 1200
  • Ofreces Servicios/Productospara la Industria Avícola
  • Ofreces Servicios/Productos para los Fabricantes de Alimentos
  • No event sponsors

Check sponsorship conditions

Entrada Congresual
Coffee Break, Almuerzo
Vista libre de la Expo
Material del congreso
Cena de gala Inaugural

Tour de acompañantes

Tour de Acompañantes

370USD
  • Programa de ocio completo, para los días 17, 18 y 19 de Octubre

  • Everglades, Tour en Barco, Tour por Miami etc...

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