Auburn University's Department of Poultry Science, located in the College of Agriculture, continues to grow into a program of worldwide distinction, offering one-of-a-kind instruction, training and outreach in support of Alabama's largest agricultural industry, an industry with a statewide annual impact of more than $15 billion and 86,000 jobs.
Graduates of degree programs in poultry science and food science are trained in food safety and quality, product development, production methods and other aspects of the industry.
"As global populations grow, healthy and efficient ways of feeding communities are more important than ever," said Paul Patterson, dean of the College of Agriculture and director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station. "That's why graduates of degree programs in poultry science and food science are in such high demand by some of the top food companies, public agencies and research centers."
Evolving research methods and improved facilities allow Poultry Science to address industry needs in fresh and innovative ways. One research project has led to the introduction of a new device that detects a major poultry industry challenge, woody breast. Woody breast is a muscle myopathy that makes poultry tough and unpleasant to consume, causing losses of up to $200 million annually in the U.S.
"Poultry Science, along with the National Poultry Technology Center, are building the nation's leading poultry research and education facility, making Auburn an innovation hub for poultry researchers, industry leaders and students from across the country and throughout the world," Patterson said.
The new comprehensive "farm"—the Charles C. Miller Jr. Poultry Research and Education Center—will significantly advance the university's standing as a global leader in poultry research, instruction and outreach. This new center is allowing Poultry Science to realize its vision of becoming the nation's premiere poultry education and research program and will allow it to combine facilities in a systems approach to support a unique "farm-to-fork" philosophy.
The Miller Center is located on a 30-acre site in north Auburn. At present, it is in its final phase of construction, nearing a completion date in 2020. Current construction includes a processing plant as well as several new bird research houses.
As of fall 2019, the Miller Center consists of the following facilities: Poultry and Animal Nutrition Center-Alabama Poultry and Egg Association Feed Mill, the National Poultry Technology Center's testing facility, replicated pen facilities for poultry nutrition and management-related research and an administration and education building that includes classrooms.
"The new center will enhance Auburn's teaching mission by providing hands-on experiences for students, increasing process control to meet current and future research needs and expanding Auburn's extension mission through industry education courses," said Bill Dozier, head of the Department of Poultry Science.
The National Poultry Technology Center, based at Auburn, continues its mission of improving bottom-line profitability of the live production sector of the U.S. poultry industry by providing timely applied research and education that contributes to increased efficiencies in housing, equipment, energy and environmental control. The emphasis of NPTC is on improving efficiency, effectiveness and the economic viability of poultry production facilities.
NPTC recently joined forces with Tyson Foods Inc. to open the largest stand-alone solar-powered poultry house to be operated completely off the grid. Research from the house, located in Cullman, Alabama, will provide important new information on how solar power technology can improve environmental sustainability and profits for farmers.
NPTC is a multidisciplinary research center under the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station with support from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. For more information about the diverse opportunities offered by the College of Agriculture, visit agriculture.auburn.edu.