“Water utilization is important because water is a finite commodity,” says Richard B. Russell Professor and Chair Sammy Aggrey. “Basically, we can run out of fresh water supply.”
By Claire Sanders for CAES News
With nearly 2.5 million employed in an industry that produces 1.1 billion broilers per year, Egypt’s poultry industry is booming. Because of its dry climate, however, the country’s production levels are heavily reliant on producers’ ability to use resources efficiently without compromising output.
One of the most precious resources required for that production is water.
For Egypt and other areas prone to drought and high heat, it is essential to find ways to optimize water use through high-tech infrastructure, sustainable agricultural practices, and ultimately, the chickens themselves.
Sammy Aggrey, a professor in the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) Department of Poultry Science, says that all it took was one research visit to the region to spark his curiosity — how do we increase efficient water utilization in chickens? After 10 years researching feed utilization, a concurrent issue of optimizing poultry production, Aggrey is now shifting directions to answer that question.
“Water utilization is important because water is a finite commodity,” says Aggrey. “Basically, we can run out of fresh water supply.”
On top of that long-term concern, the world experienced more drought in the 21st century than any previous century on record, an issue that is particularly relevant in countries and regions like Egypt where water is already scarce. Aggrey, along with his research team, are hoping they can make a difference not only locally in Egypt, but ultimately on a global scale.
To support efforts to isolate genes responsible for water intake, Aggrey has been awarded a grant through the U.S.-Egypt Science and Technology Joint Fund to pursue a project titled “Improving the Efficiency of Water Intake Utilization in Poultry.”
Water conservation on a genetic level
Research efforts in Athens will be joined with the work of Mohamed El Sabry of Cairo University in Egypt over the next three years. Joining this project is another CAES faculty member, Romdhane Rekaya, a professor in the Department of Animal and Dairy Science. Rekaya, who was raised in North Africa, understands the implications of a project like this one.
“For producers in drought-prone areas, even a small quantity of water can make the difference between profit and failure. Many producers in Egypt are small-scale operations which don’t have access to running water or a well, so they use less-than-perfect means for water,” Rekaya says.
This study could give producers the ability to respond in a crisis, such as a drastic heat wave, in order to save their flocks and their livelihoods. With margins as narrow as 100 gallons, producers in drought-prone areas are often operating on a knife’s edge.
To read the complete story, go to https://poultry.caes.uga.edu/news/story/8719/Water-Scarcity.html.