Auburn University’s $7.1 million Poultry and Animal Nutrition Center, a state-of-the-art academic and research feed production facility located on a 50-acre site north of the main campus, officially opened on November 16, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by university administrators and representatives of the poultry and feed mill industries.

The feed mill has had strong industry support since plans began taking shape in early 2008, when a technical advisory committee that included poultry nutritionists and feed mill personnel was formed to provide input on the facility’s design and equipment. More than 40 corporations have donated to the facility, including $750,000 in equipment. 

Housed inside a 12,500-square-foot steel building, the new feed mill is comprised of nine prefabricated modules, each 40 feet long by 8 feet wide by 9 feet and 6 inches high. The modular design is “a small-scale adaptation of a commercial mega-facility” and is ideal for teaching, said Don Conner, head of the Department of Poultry Science at Auburn. “Students can come in here and stand in one place and see every step of the milling process and how all the pieces work together,” said Conner. “Students want and need hands-on, real-world experience, and they’re going to get that here.

“One of our department’s key missions is to serve the industry, and producing outstanding employees is one of the ways we do that,” said Conner. “The experience students get working and learning at the feed mill will equip them with the knowledge and skills the industry is demanding.” The feed mill, in fact, will be operated primarily by students, as part of the poultry science curriculum.

Research is where the new facility will be especially vital. Patterned after California Polytechnic State University’s Animal Nutrition Center, Auburn’s Poultry and Animal Nutrition Center is built to scale and is scalable by factors of five, 10, 12 and 15. That will allow research conducted at the feed mill to be translated for any size commercial feed mill. Auburn research will focus on getting as much nutritional value out of feed as possible, not only for poultry but other agriculturally important animals. And feed produced at the facility will be used as food for the university’s 20,000-bird research flock and livestock research animals. In addition to Auburn scientists, researchers from private corporations will be allowed to contract use of the feed mill for some projects.