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Poultry Research

Unit(s) of assessment: Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology

Research theme: Sustainable Futures

School: School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences


The Nottingham Trent University (NTU) School of Animal Rural and Environmental Sciences contains a highly integrated group of leading academics in the fields of animal nutrition and environmentally sustainable management of land and water. These diverse scientific backgrounds provide scope for highly innovative and well considered approaches to global issues such as food security and resource management.

We currently offer:

  • immensely strong links to the UK animal feed industry – the NTU Poultry Unit works with both SMEs and multinationals and Burton has worked with the sector since 1999
  • a route into Europe: Dr Burton represents the UK on the World’s Poultry Science Association European Working Group 2 (Nutrition)
  • high precision poultry research unit capable of running very detailed trials on a small scale, allowing small quantities of novel materials to be accurately and economically evaluated
  • a poultry unit uniquely positioned as part of a commercially run part-arable farm specialising in environmentally sustainable agriculture and yet with unhindered access to world-class facilities for biosciences, engineering, computing and informatics
  • an existing network of collaborators representing a huge range of stakeholders, from market leaders in the commercial animal feed sector to NGOs seeking to increase small scale poultry production in sub-Saharan Africa.

Our reputation:

Since its inception in 2009, the NTU poultry research unit has attracted funding from both the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), and been globally recognised for expertise in poultry nutrition.

Our research and consultancy services have been used to register two patents, two book chapters, seven international journal papers and seventeen conference publications.

This fast moving group contains a mixture of UK and international PhD students supported by a highly experienced team of doctoral scientists and research associates.

The research from this unit provided one of the Impact Case Studies for REF 2014: Reduced Environmental Impact from Meat Poultry Production Through Improved Nutrition.


Seed selection behaviour of budgerigars fed diets including varying amounts of sunflower seed. Mucherek-Parramore I and Burton E, Recent advances in animal welfare science III, 21 June 2012, York

The effects of dietary supplementation of mannan oligosaccharides on the intestinal morphology of broilers. Frith L, Lea, H and Burton E, World’s Poultry Science Association (UK branch) Oral Presentation Annual Meeting 24-25 April 2012, Nottingham

Optimum methodology for determining broiler gastrointestinal pH. Morgan NK, Walk C, Bedford M, and Burton EJ, World’s Poultry Science Association (UK branch), Oral Presentation Annual Meeting 24-25 April 2012, Nottingham

Potential for alcohol co-products from potable and bioethanol sources as protein sources in poultry diets. Scholey D, Williams P and Burton E, British Poultry Science Abstracts, 2011, 7 (1), 57-58

Comparison of digesta collection methods for amino acid digestibility measurements in broilers. Dilley H and Burton E, British Poultry Science Abstracts, 2011, 7 (1), 67-68

Efficacy of a novel form of dietary silicon supplement in reducing lameness in poultry. Short F, Burton E, Belton D, Mann G and Perry C, British Poultry Science Abstracts, 2011, 7 (1), 2-3

The effects of dietary trypsin inhibitor content on digesta viscosity and excreta moisture content in broilers. Clarke E and Wiseman J, British Poultry Science Abstracts, 2010, 6 (1), 28

The production of a high concentration yeast protein concentrate co-product from a bioethanol refinery. Wlliams P, Clarke E and Scholey D, Proceedings of the 17th European Symposium on Poultry Nutrition, Edinburgh, UK, 2009, 326

Press Coverage

Bioethanol press releases:

Phytase press releases:

Nutrient Digestibility press releases:


Nottingham Trent University Poultry Research Unit provides a platform for both industry technologists and fundamental scientists to explore the interplay between nutrition, welfare and sustainability of poultry production. The unit encompasses a dedicated suite of buildings including a 48-pen bird room, sampling and analytical laboratories, a feed manufacture room and secure feed storage areas; with the office of the unit manager at its centre. The Poultry Research Unit is embedded within the University’s School of Animal Rural and Environmental Sciences and draws on facilities and research groups described as world-class in RAE 2008.

The bird room is specified to meet current industry standards for husbandry and environmental conditions and provides a small scale, high replication model for precise examination of test materials in vivo. This is achieved through use of bespoke 80 cm by 80 cm pens in a small space with a highly uniform environment in terms of lighting, temperature, humidity, ventilation with the option of automatic drinker lines or bell drinkers. Feed is provided via individual, bespoke troughs, designed to minimise feed spillage.

The unit currently provides an infrastructure to support three poultry scientists at postdoctoral level and a further three PhD students with plans to double its capacity. This unit supplies a vital conduit from fundamental science to global industry impact. It has been selected by the RCUK as an impact case study to be presented to UK Government in negotiation for future funding, and cited by a global leader in feed supplements as ‘one of the top ten poultry research centres in the world’.

Analytical capacity

The NTU unit has expertise and infrastructure in a wide range of areas relevant to poultry production, including the following areas:

  • ELISA quantification (and assay development) of serum endocrinology
  • Bone breaking strength
  • Bone ash and mineral content (full mineral suite via ICP-OES)
  • AME, nutrient digestibility and nitrogen retention via titanium dioxide marker analysis
  • Histological analysis of gut development (villus / crypt morphometric and Goblet cell)
  • Phytate content of feed material, susceptibility of phytate to phytase degradation
  • Determination of intestinal pH
  • Amino acid profiles of feed and digesta.