International honour for poultry scientist

Published 14 May 2008

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Professor Mingan Choct has become the first Australian to give one of the international poultry industry’s most important scientific lectures. He presented the 25th Annual Robert Fraser Gordon Memorial Lecture to an international audience in Scarborough,  UK, last month.

Professor Choct, who is based at the University of New England as the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Poultry Cooperative Research Centre, said the invitation to deliver the lecture, and the enthusiastic response it had received, were “a great honour”. The Gordon Lecture, organised by the R.F.Gordon Memorial Trust and the UK Branch of the World’s Poultry Science Association, is a highlight of the annual conference of the British Society of Animal Science. The lecturer is chosen on the basis of “distinguished contributions to a branch of poultry science”.

In his lecture, titled “Managing gut health through nutrition”, Professor Choct explained why “gut health” in poultry would be an increasingly important focus of scientific research and animal husbandry. “As well as containing more than 20 hormones and accounting for more than 20 per cent of the body’s energy expenditure,” he said, “the gut harbours more than 640 species of microbes. Sixty per cent of a chicken’s excreta originates from these microorganisms. In the future, we’ll need to feed the microbes in the gut properly in order to achieve maximum productivity for the whole animal. It’s a long way off, but that’s what we’ve got to do.”

“To understand gut health we need to understand gut physiology, endocrinology, microbiology, immunology and nutrition,” he continued, adding that the Australian Poultry CRC was among the world’s leaders in developing such an understanding.

Professor Choct, who migrated to Australia from Inner Mongolia in 1987, said Australia had given him opportunities as a postgraduate student, researcher, academic and scientific administrator that had been the “springboard” for his achievement of this and other accolades. Those others include the Australian Society of Animal Production Young Scientist Award (1990), the World’s Poultry Science Association’s Syd Wilkins Memorial Prize (1991), The Australian Poultry Award (2004), and the Alltech Biotechnology Global Medal of Excellence (2005).

As a presenter of the Gordon Memorial Lecture, Professor Choct received the 2008 Robert Fraser Gordon Memorial Medal. The lecture and the medal honour the memory of the distinguished British poultry veterinarian Dr R.F. Gordon, CBE, DSc, DVSc, FRCVS, who died in 1981.

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here shows Professor Choct after being presented with the Gordon Memorial Medal.