World Poultry Foundation 2019 Trip Report

Capacity Building to Improve the Efficiency of the Poultry Industry in Cuba. 

 1. Name for organizations: 

Department of Poultry Science Department (PSD) 

National Poultry Technology Center (NPTC) 

Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849-5416 

2. Principle Investigators: 

Drs. Wilmer Pacheco and Joseph J. Giambrone are members of the PSD and James Donald is a member of the NPTC. Dr. Pacheco is an expert on feed ingredients, milling and other aspects of nutrition. Dr. Giambrone is an expert on Poultry Health and Management. Jim Donald is an engineer and an expert on poultry housing and ventilation. 

Co-principal Investigators from Cuban Institutes: Ing. Jesus Aguilar, Instiuto de Investigaciones Avicolas. 6402 Mousoleo el Cacahual y Gral. Maceo, Santiago de Las Vegas, La Habana, Cuba. 

3. Start and Approved Extension Dates of Project: 

5/1/2018, 06/31/2019 

4. Description of activities carried out so far: 

Drs. Giambrone, Pacheco, and Jim Donald were to attend a 1-day Cuban Agricultural fare to obtain first-hand knowledge of the state of Agriculture in Cuba in May. However, due to problems in obtaining Academic VISAs we were unable to attend. 

The second part of the project, which was completed on January 22 of 2019 was a two-day training seminar and workshop on egg layer nutrition, feed processing, ingredient testing, and detection, prevention, and control of economically important infectious diseases, and design and management of poultry housing and ventilation systems for maximum production and energy conservation. The agenda, photos of Host institution personal and attendees, parts of the seminar and workshop, and certificates, are attached. 

The workshop was conducted in a large Compound (Rancho Boyeros) designed for 

Agricultural fares and scientific meetings about a 30 minute drive from Havana. The compound was completely enclosed with a wall and gated entrance for security purposes. The compound included a number of various sized offices and meeting rooms, kitchens, dining areas, and sleeping quarters for attendees. This was important, because there were approximately 100 attendees from areas throughout the entire country, who would not have the funds to attend a 2-day meeting in Havana. There were also holding and showing facilities for livestock and other agricultural plant products and a rodeo style facility with a large capacity for seating. 

The seminar was followed by a half-day meeting on Saturday, January 26 with the main employees of the Instiuto de Investigaciones Avicolas in an office in the same compound. During this final meeting, we discussed the success of the meetings and they related areas of future needs of the industry and future collaboration to expedite achieving of their goals. At that time they conveyed to us the current state of poultry production in Cuba and increase in efficiency, egg quality, and egg production that they are anticipating with our help over the upcoming years. This group is the main research institute for poultry research in Cuba. It consists of Nutritionists, Geneticists, Veterinarians, Physiologist, Engineers, and Management experts. I have scanned their business card to Richard Fritz prior to the meeting in 2018.The research group has their own research farm, which is about 45 minute drive from Havana and they are situated close to CENSA, and regularly interact with them. Both are government agencies and do the bulk of the research on commercial poultry production in Cuba. In the past serval years Dr. Pastor Alfonso, who is my longtime colleague of mine at CENSA brought us to the Institute on several occasions for meetings with the Institute. Dr. Pastor is the leading researcher on Poultry Diseases within Cuba. He attended my presentations on Friday morning and helped with the translation and answer sessions, which were all in Spanish. 

Wilmer and I visited the Institute twice in past visits to Cuba for half-day meetings to discuss the major challenges facing the industry and how our cooperation could increase the efficiency of their country’s egg production. Their group recommended and planned this 2-data seminar. They chose the time, place, agenda, and did all the coordination at the Rancho Boyeros Agricultural fare facility. I complemented them on all aspects of this thorough and professionally carried out seminar. Anabel Cruz Alfonso their meeting coordinator and Dr. Pacheco along with the Invicta Travel agency where able to make things occur albeit it was a long 6 month process. Invicta arranged for our VISAs, hotel accommodations, and a single taxi driver during office hours for our 4 day visit in Cuba. 

We received our Academic VISAs in December of 2018, but decided to apply for 6 month extension and have the meeting during the end of January of this year. We arrived in our Hotel in Havana on Wednesday afternoon of January 23. Around 7 PM we, were picked up and taken to the place of the workshop and had a welcome reception with the members of the Institute and a few Government employees. Richard Fritz gave us the contact information for these additional employees and Anabel invited them to the seminar. This function took place in a meeting room in the Rancho Boyeros. 

All attendees were enthusiastic about the seminar and cooperation with the Institute for the benefit of their egg industry. During the reception, we discussed the activities that were planned over the next 3 days. 

On Thursday, the seminar started around 9 AM. There were 2-20 minute coffee breaks 1 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon with a 1 and a ½-hour lunch period. Attendees were researchers from private and government agencies as well managers of poultry farms from all over the country. For most of these individuals, this was their first technical seminar. For the first time we meet 3 researchers from a private research institute (Avis Investigations) in Havana. One was the director, another a Nutritionist, and the other a geneticist. They explained to us that that had 8 breeds of leghorns developed in Cuba (both white and brown layers). They are interested in the importation of more modern breeds, but so far the US and or Cuban governments has not allowed that to occur. They are optimistic that they can import some new breeds from Europe. 

The first day was devoted entirely to Dr. Pacheco’s lectures on the importance of good feed ingredients, feed processing, nutrition, and demonstrations of tests used to examine the feed ingredients and final feed particle size. He purchased the test materials from the contract funds, showed the group, how to perform the tests and then left them with the institute for their future use. His tests showed that their feed quality was not uniform and needed improved mixing. All his slides and presentations were in Spanish and the group was very engaged with his demonstrations and asked many questions. 

On the morning of Friday, January 27, I presented lectures on the detection, prevention, and control of viruses that produce tumors and common respiratory diseases, vaccination programs, and administrative techniques and equipment used in the US. I am sure that almost none of them had ever seen these types of vaccination schedules and equipment. All my slides were in Spanish and I did my best to make the presentations in Spanish the help from Drs. Pacheco and Alfonso. I also present 3-10 minute videos, produced by the University of Maryland on common biosecurity procedures used in the US. The videos we in English, but subtitles were in Spanish. I sent these slides and videos to Richard prior to the meeting. With funds from the contract, I bought textbooks on various aspects of my talks from the American Association of Avian Pathologists and presented them to the institute on Saturday. I also provided them pamphlets on Biosecurity in Spanish, which were made by the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association, as well as a number of DVD videos and CDs that I made over the years on Poultry Health and Management, which I have used in my classes in Auburn. 

On the same afternoon Jim Donald, gave a lengthy talk on the retro fitting of their present layer facilities for improved ventilation, insulation, plumbing, and electrical operations. This is important because their present houses our extremely primitive, with metal roofs, no insulation nor ventilation. The roofs are held up with wooden posts, and consist of one cage level with older cages, manual feeders and egg collection. They do use nipple drinkers and the fecal material is coned up under the cages and manually 

shoveled out every few months. The manure in pilled outside the houses and after some composting spread on fields. The isolated farms, barely visible from the main roads, usually consists of 2 small houses with a number of farm workers to add the bagged feed to the troughs and gather and store the eggs in a non-cooled environment and daily and shipped off to the market. A photo of one of their very best house is aattached. 

Jim then presented the proper selection sites and new placement of poultry housing, construction of new houses, which included the latest automated egg collection and feeding of poultry. This is important, because presently Big Dutchmen in Germany is building 2 modern 70,000 bird laying facilities on each of 2 farms in Cuba. Jim is a good friend of Tom Wallace International Owner of the company and will speak to him at the IPPE show in Atlanta about this venture. Depending on how these are built, managed, and if they can show an increase in number and quality of eggs produced this could be the start of a modern industry in Cuba. I have seen the quality of eggs sold in the grocery store and they are at best B quality and are of various shapes and sizes. I am told that the best quality of eggs are sold at restaurants especially at hotels occupied by tourists. 

A professional photographer filmed the entire 2-day seminar. Wilmer brought a large number of thumb drives with contract money to give to Anabel. The plain is for her to capture all information from the computer used during the seminar and distribute as many of them as possible to key attendees. 

On the morning of Saturday January 26, we had a 3-hour meeting with the planners of the seminar. We discussed present egg production figures and how we could examine ways to increase productivity and plans for future collaborations. Presently, Cuba produces 2 billion eggs/year. Approximately 60 % of the farms are owned by the government and 40% by private industry. Their cost of production is high and egg quality needs improving. They have a need of 1 billion more eggs/year. There hen house performance is about 240. This can only happen, with increased in feed quality, improved disease control, housing and management, and importation of new more modern breeds. 

Opportunities for future collaboration with Research Institute include an increase in egg production, pullets, evaluation of raw materials (quick tests), production of research feed (they don’t even have a mixer in the research institute) and the feed is produced in another feed mill, which can affect the identity of the different treatments. They have interest in molecular genetics, new technologies for incubation, equipment to evaluate egg quality. We committed to submit a couple of technical articles to be published in their internal scientific journal. They publish the magazine in June and December. 

We would like to attend and participate in the Institute’s annual meeting at the end of May. They would like us to provide training to other people who could not attend the present training. At this time, we could obtain more information from the institute on 

Cuba’s mortality and feed to egg ratio and status of the new 4 new poultry houses. It is rather hard to get exact performance figures. It may be that the government does not have them or does not want to revel them. We also spoke about the opportunity to meet one or two of our Cuban collaborators in Mexico to train them in aspects of feed manufacturing, house management, and diseases using these remaining funds. There is about $6,000 in unused funds from the original contract do help with that opportunity.