Pakistan poultry industry is a huge investment of about 5 billion US$ with an annual growth rate of 10-12%. According to World Health Organization, the recommended animal protein consumption per person is about 27g per day but in Pakistan it is about 17g per person per day that is quite low. Moreover, annual population growth in Pakistan is 2.7%. This creates a big gap between demand and supply of meat. Since last two decades, Pakistan poultry industry has played a pivotal role to curtail the gap between demand and supply of good quality meat. Poultry sector is contributing approximately 26.8%, 5.76% and 1.3% to the total production of meat, agricultural sector and overall GDP, respectively.

The feed cost contributes about 60-70% of total cost of poultry feed. The low cost feed involves the usage of non-conventional feed including wheat, barley, oat, kernel, maize, palm and rye. Such diets contain a major portion of anti-nutritional factors and non-starch polysaccharides causing low nutritional level. This issue can be resolved by supplementation of poultry feed with various exogenous enzymes which facilitate the digestion of such feed ingredients especially phytate, cellulose, xylan, starch and proteins that can be degraded by various enzymes like phytase, cellulase, xylanase, amylase and protease, respectively.

Pakistan is a agro-industrial state and its annual agro-waste production is about 50-60 billion tons. Most significant agricultural wastes are corn steep liquor, wheat bran, wheat straw, molasses, rice bran, banana waste, oil dust and saw dust. These wastes are abundantly available, cost effective, cheap, economically feasible, nutritionally important and give higher level production of enzymes which significantly decrease the cost of enzyme production and ultimately the cost of poultry feed.

We in our laboratory at Institute of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore are working for the economic availability of these enzymes at domestic level for the poultry feed industry of Pakistan. In the current study a protease has been characterized from a thermophile Geobacillus SBS-4. This microbial strain has ability to grow between a temperature range of 45 to 75°C and pH 2 to 12. The characterized protease showed its maximal activity at 65°C and pH 9.

The enzyme showed stability at wide range of temperature and pH. The supplementation of poultry feed with this enzyme showed promising results and boosted the poultry bird growth. The exogenous protease facilitates the endogenous enzymes for the improvement of protein digestion and thus availability of amino acids for the synthesis of bird’s protein in addition to metabolic activities.

The present study was a foundation step for the economic production of protease at laboratory scale. Regarding its applicability to commercial or industrial scale there will be the need to conduct the trials at larger scale. Domestic production of this enzyme will reduce the overall cost of poultry and will be a step in stabilization of economy of Pakistan by reducing the huge foreign exchange for the import of the enzymes.