Thirty one poultry production management personnel from 20 countries gatherered in Huntsville, Ala. for the 50th Production Management School, hosted by Aviagen, a poultry breeding company.

The month-long school offers Aviagen customers a chance to gain hands-on experience in many facets of poultry production. More than 1,500 poultry professionals from 62 countries have completed the program since 1967, when it was founded in Connecticut as the Arbor Acres Production Management School.

The 2013 school curriculum will feature 17 field trips and workshops focusing on fertility, ventilation, gut health, feed formulation and more. Classes and hands-on sessions will be taught by 50 instructors and experts, from Aviagen employees to professors from local and international universities.

"For the 50th time, the best and brightest people in the poultry industry will gather to immerse themselves in the latest science and best practices that define the finest in poultry production management," said Randall Ennis, CEO at Aviagen.

"While the content taught in the Aviagen Production Management School has evolved considerably since 1967, the goal remains the same: to ensure that every graduate returns home with a firm, end-to-end understanding of broiler breeding and the vital issues that surround it, from best production practices to animal welfare and biosecurity. We're happy to welcome these 31 students to continue this important legacy of achievement, innovation and education."

When the inaugural class graduated in 1967, the broiler breeding industry was concentrated in Connecticut. Jet transportation was becoming widespread, and with it came an opportunity for poultry companies like Arbor Acres to introduce their brands and products into new markets. But the company realized that for globalization to be successful, the same standards and practices employed in the United States had to be followed worldwide. The Arbor Acres Production Management School was born.

In the early years, students from all over the world would live at the school for up to three months. Students would spend half their day in the classroom and the other half learning what it takes to breed broilers, to clean poultry houses and select birds and to handle and sanitize eggs. In addition to teaching, the school created networks of colleagues who not only transferred their knowledge to one another, but they also took that knowledge back home.

"Much of the modern poultry industry came about because of this school," said president of Valo Biomedia, Neal Scanlon, who oversaw the school from 2004 to 2012. "It really helped create generations of industry leaders. These are people who were expected to move up in their companies, and they're hand-picked to attend. And when they return home and share those best practices with others, it elevates their entire company, even the poultry industry in their entire region."

"Over the years we have evolved the school agenda and design to encourage students to not only learn from the eminent line-up of presenters from academia and industry, but also from each other," said Mark Wright, director of the Aviagen Production Management School since 2012. "This environment fosters business relationships and friendships that last throughout a career as well as a lifetime."

Attendees to the Aviagen Production Management School must be nominated by an Aviagen Sales or Technical Representative.