Former Animal Science student receives honorary membership

A former post-graduate student of Animal Sciences, Marc de Beer, has been invited to membership of the prestige academic society, PHI KAPPA PHI, in the USA. Marc has obtained his Masters degree in Animal Science from Stellenbosch University with “cum laude”. Thereafter he was offered a scholarship for his PhD at the University of Arkansas. PHI KAPPA PHI is an honors society for the top 7.5% of graduate students in all disciplines across the USA. It is recognized as the oldest and most prestigious of the honors societies. It was founded in 1897 and its motto is Philosophia krateito photon, which is freely translated as “Let the love of learning rule humanity”.

Marc is involved in a variety of research projects for his PhD. Much of his work involves the use of stable and radioactive isotopes of carbon and nitrogen as metabolic tracers in broiler breeder hens. He is trying to determine the fate of dietary nutrients at various stages of production. The aim is to determine the contribution of body reserves and dietary nutrients to each of the components of the egg in order to better understand feeding programs and requirements of breeder hens. He has also been studying the influence of various rearing programs and nutritional effects on broiler breeder performance. He has looked at the effect of increased protein levels at various stages of rearing and their effect on egg production, egg size, frame size and hatchability. Skip-a-day feeding programs have been coming under close scrutiny from nutritionists and animal welfare groups. He has been studying the effects of skip-a-day feeding during rearing on a variety of factors including, in vitro lipogenesis, blood hormone levels (insulin, glucagon, T3 etc) and lipogenic enzyme activity and gene expression. He has also recently been looking at the effect of skip-a-day feeding programs on stress levels and hunger. He uses heterophil: lymphocyte ratio as an indicator of hunger while he also measures heart-rate, body temperature and energy expenditure at regular intervals during the day (during feeding, between meals etc). He has been relating his work to the starve-refeed response in humans which sees many crash dieters gain weight very quickly after they resume normal eating habits. He has been trying to explain this response looking at the level of enzyme gene expression.

A separate part of his work involves the determination of the amino acid and crude protein requirements for maintenance and production in broiler breeders. As a part of this work he determined the effects of various amino acid levels on female fertility both in vivo and in vitro.

The University of Arkansas has been rated the number one poultry science program in the USA for the last 3 years and many of the researchers are world renowned for their work. Marc will finish his studies in May 2006.

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