Industry-Sponsored Research Week

Auburn University poultry center to be ‘one-stop shop’ for farmers

By David Schwartz
Published: April 22nd, 2019

With the coming expansion of its Top of FormCharles C. Miller Jr. Poultry Research and Education Center, Auburn University is creating a one-stop shop approach to engagement with the poultry industry – from farmers to multinational corporations.

“It is our goal to be the leading institution in poultry research, education and outreach in the United States, if not the world,” College of Agriculture dean Paul Patterson said. “We aspire to be the go-to destination when new challenges face the poultry industry. This is a lofty goal, but I think it is one well within reach, particularly with the development of these new facilities.”

According to poultry and extension center director Mitchell Pate, the university began the process of constructing the extensive poultry center project by installing the nutrition center — a feed mill to develop “production-research diets” for testing alternative ingredients for animals to eat.  “After that, we built three testing houses here,” Pate said. “One of those houses is the National Poultry Technology Center for engineering. They do testing like live-production equipment and new computer systems. We are training students and industry people at that facility. We have live-production houses on the site, and they are mainly used for nutritional studies.”

The comprehensive facility serves as a smaller version of a large industry poultry plant, essentially a test bed to collect data from the research poultry conglomerate and small farmers are unable to facilitate on their own.

“They process 1 [million] to 2 million birds a week, so they can’t afford to stop their plants and put in an experimental piece of equipment,” Pate said. “We’re setting this plant up for companies to be able to bring that type of research here, run it through our plant and collect data. These equipment manufacturers will be able to tweak their machinery before they try to put it into a major plant.”

A processing plant, auxiliary buildings, an environment-controlled house, a hatchery and additional research houses are part of the final phase to development a miniaturized poultry complex for data collection.

“It’s going to be a game changer for our industry that they can come here and collect data on a small scale, and then apply it back to their facilities,” Pate said. “We can look at different breed types and nutritional effects. We can do field studies on birds to see if we are getting the best meat quality. We’ll have a testing kitchen, spaces available for meat quality tests and data collection in that also.”

The facility has a number of key partners already, including the United States Department of Agriculture, the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association, Tyson, Pilgrim’s Pride, Wayne Farms, Cook Foods, and Peco Foods.

“Industry is going to look at this and say not only are we doing cutting-edge research, but we’re doing research at a place that can actually have practical implications for the industry,” Auburn University president Steven Leath said.

Added Pate: “We’re here to solve [industry’s] problems, and they can pick the phone up. We have specialists in all phases of this industry from food safety to microbiology to processing to engineering. We have it all right here, your one-stop shop.”

Source: OA Now

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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