Considerable commercial interest had been expressed in investigating the use of oats in poultry rations, as birds fed commercially on oat diets appeared to perform better than would have been expected from the nutritional description.
- Advances in genetic breeding at IGER, Aberystwyth, had led to the establishment of naked oats as a viable break crop option for growers.
- Advanced varieties of ‘high oil’ naked oats offer the potential for significantly enhanced performance in monogastrics diets.
Oats are a cereal break crop option for growers. However the relatively modest annual production is constrained by the lack of viable markets to sustain an attractive return to the grower. The animal feed market has the potential to double the area of oats under production, whilst offering the compounder a starch based high-energy alternative to the high levels of wheat currently used in poultry diets. An increase in the cultivated area of oats would also benefit the environment through encouraging biodiversity together with the advantages of lower fertilizer, herbicide, and pesticide regimes when compared to wheat.
The AFENO project was established to conduct a coordinated programme of research to test the advantages of naked oats to the grower as an economic breakcrop, to the poultry industry as an effective ingredient in broiler and turkey rations, and to the consumer in improved meat quality.