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Betafin for Increased Breast Meat Yield in Turkey

 


In North America and Europe, breast meat is a favored cut for consumers and is therefore of significant economic value for the poultry industry. Modern poultry strains have been selected for increased carcass yield, particularly with respect to the breast muscle. To gain full advantage of this genetic improvement, poultry nutritionists formulate diets designed to provide the birds with a good nutrient profile as well as nutrient digestibility. Historically nutrients such as crude protein, essential amino acids as well as the amino acid to energy ratio are known to affect the ability of the bird to accrete carcass protein. More recently, betaine has been shown to have a similar effect. Betafin (Finnfeeds) is natural betaine that has been extracted from sugar beet and subsequently purified. Betaine functions in the body as an osmolyte to help defend against dehydration, it is also a methyl group donor which supports synthesis of many components such as protein, DNA/RNA and the neurotransmitter epinephrine. Betafin has been shown to reduce lesion scores (Virtanen et al., 1996; Remus et al., 1996), increase nutrient digestibility (Remus et al., 1995; Augustine and Danforth, 1999) and intestinal tensile strength (Remus and Quarles, 2000) in chickens with coccidiachallenge history. Betafin also allows the commercial broiler producer to economically optimize usage of methionine and choline through the methyl donor function of Betafin (Virtanen and Rosi, 1995).

 

Water is frequently overlooked as a nutrient vital for the growth of farm animals, even though it is a large component of the meat product ultimately sold to the consumer. Muscle from market age turkeys and broilers is approximately 74% to 75% water (USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, 1999). Water has a very basic function in cells of all types in addition to it being the matrix that bathes and supports the cell's organelles. It is the key nutrient regulating cell metabolism (Haussinger, 1996), so a slight increase in water content of a cell increases that cell's growth-related activity while loss of water from the cell decreases growth. In addition, a large portion of energy within the body is used to keep a relatively constant water volume within cells. Estimates of 30 to 60% of the maintenance energy used within the visceral organs is associated with the sodium-potassium ATPase pump (McBride and Milligan, 1985; McBride and Kelly, 1990); this pump helps maintain water balance in cells and is particularly important in the absences of osmolytes such as betaine. The advantage of the osmolyte betaine versus the sodium-potassium ATPase pump is that less energy is needed to accumulate betaine within a cell. In addition, the osmolyte betaine is safe for the cell to accumulate to high levels whereas high levels of electrolytes can adversely affect cell metabolic activity (Yancey et al., 1982). Specifically, Betafin has been shown to alleviate dehydration of cells during osmotic stress (Bagnasco et al., 1986; Petronini et al., 1993) and is accumulated by aquatic species during osmotic stress for the same purpose (Yancey et al., 1982; Dragolovich, 1994). In broilers, Betafin has been shown to increase body water retention during heat stress (Teeter et al., 1999), a factor important in the ultimate survival of the bird during heat stress, and to help improve performance of broilers given a coccidia challenge (Virtanen and Rosi, 1995; Virtanen et al., 1996; Remus et al., 1996).

 

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