A total of 1,800 poults (young turkeys) were placed inside the new Stanley L. Balloun Turkey Teaching and Research Facility at Iowa State University earlier this month.

The turkeys are a commercial broad breasted white breed and will provide experiential learning opportunities for Iowa State students through research and independent study projects. Students also will learn about turkeys during class lectures and have opportunities to visit the facility in future semesters due to the late arrival of the turkeys this semester, said Dawn Koltes, assistant professor of animal science.

“We’re excited the poults have arrived and are looking forward to the educational opportunities this state-of-the-art facility and the birds will provide our students,” Koltes said.

The Balloun Turkey Teaching and Research Facility was dedicated in May 2022 and is the only establishment of its kind focused on turkey production at a major university. Located next to the Robert T. Hamilton Poultry Teaching and Research Farm along 520th Avenue south of Ames, the new turkey facility will strengthen Iowa State’s existing poultry science program.

“The opening of this farm represents several years of visioning, planning, hard work and synergy between Iowa State University and Iowa’s turkey farmers,” said Jason Ross, professor and chair of Iowa State’s Department of Animal Science. “The teaching and research capabilities of this farm are unlike anywhere else in the U.S., and our faculty and staff look forward to training the future leaders of the industry and driving innovative solutions for America’s turkey farmers.”

Andrew Christensen, junior in general preveterinary medicine, helped with some of the building process at the farm, as well as the arrival of the poults.

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“Working at the new Iowa State turkey farm has provided me a window into the turkey production industry and will do the same for many others for years to come,” Christensen said. “This facility represents a step forward, not just for our education, but also for the industry as a whole as it will provide valuable research to improve production.”

Research conducted at the facility will address current challenges facing Iowa’s turkey industry and will aim to advance this industry that provides more than $10 billion annually in economic activity throughout the state.

In addition, the facility will later offer continuing education and outreach programs for industry professionals, as well as an observation area where visitors can see examples of turkey production systems.

“The turkey industry applauds the launching of this facility. Turkey farmers have a continuous desire to learn new information on how to better care for their turkeys and the environment,” said Gretta Irwin, executive director of the Iowa Turkey Federation. “We expect to do research on a variety of topics-- feed, nutrition, equipment, ventilation, turkey wellbeing and manure–and explore a wide range of new technology. Iowa State University’s exceptional faculty, students and the new facility will provide farmers with the information they need to make improvements.”

Funding for the facility came from industry partners and private donors. Jim and Julie Balloun of Atlanta, Georgia, provided the lead gift. Jim is the son of Stanley L. Balloun, a former Iowa State animal science professor. Both Stanley and Jim are alumni of Iowa State.