Building Poultry's Future

UGA Department of Poultry Sciences needs to grow to meet demands of Georgia’s multibillion-dollar poultry industry

Agriculture is Georgia’s largest industry, and poultry is the largest segment of Georgia agriculture, accounting for 47% of Georgia’s agricultural output. The poultry industry contributed more than $22.9 billion to the state’s economy in 2016, according to farm gate value reports — a figure that has skyrocketed over the past four decades.

The University of Georgia’s Department of Poultry Science in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has been a major contributor of research and university-trained experts that have led to the exponential growth of the state’s industry over the past 40 years.

Ranked the No. 1 poultry science program in the nation, the department and its faculty are well-known for innovative academic and industry-focused research. However, it has outgrown the 1950s-era facilities that house it.

“The largest poultry-producing region in the United States is within 60 miles of our campus. Our location and trusted relationship with the heart of poultry production makes us a vital resource for producers and the industry,” said Todd Applegate, department head and professor in the department of poultry science. “Yet, we are bound in how much we can grow and how far we can reach by the constraints of our 1950s facilities.”

Plans are underway for a state-of-the-art poultry science building that will allow the department to grow and to capitalize on UGA’s proximity to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Poultry Research Center in Athens.

“Our goal is to solidify Athens, and the University of Georgia, as the epicenter of poultry science for the world,” Applegate said. “The capacity of the current facility doesn’t allow for the innovative research needed to solve today’s problems or discover the great possibilities of tomorrow.”

UGA’s poultry science program is one of the largest and most prestigious U.S. programs of its kind, with award-winning faculty who study a range of topics, from nutrient management and chicken physiology to genetics and flock

The department is also seen as an international leader in poultry research, hosting hundreds of international visitors each year for workshops and collaborative projects.

In addition, the department serves as a key resource for Georgia’s poultry producers. Poultry science faculty are involved in problem-solving and service-related activities for poultry-production management and many issue-oriented challenges facing the poultry industry.

University and CAES administration are working with architects on the design for a multimillion-dollar facility slated to be built on UGA’s South Campus.

“Having new facilities will allow us to grow and to capitalize on our proximity to our strong partners at the U.S. National Poultry Research Center and our counterpart department in the College of Veterinary Medicine. We would like to leverage the strength of the poultry sector and resources in Athens to attract additional technology and supporting sectors to locate in Georgia,” Applegate said. “This will be a cutting-edge poultry center where we develop new technologies that will help our industry grow and improve, where we will tackle the big problems that no one else can solve. It will help us retain and attract the best minds in the world in poultry science and continue to train the next generation of poultry innovators and business leaders.”

Included in the new facility will be a proposed Poultry Food Safety Intervention Lab, which will be the only one of its kind to focus solely on poultry to work toward providing the safest food in the world.

“We want this new facility to be accessible, a place where people can come inside and learn what we are doing to make their food safer and more sustainable,” Applegate added. “We want to demonstrate the transparency and visibility of our science to the public, which has an ever-growing concern about how their food is grown and managed.”

By Maria M. Lameiras

Proposed poultry facility art
Rendition by Flad Architects