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Sept. 27, 2019
By Mary HightowerU of A System Division of Agriculture
(824 words)(Newsrooms – with photo of Bottje here: https://flic.kr/p/SWEwiJ )Download Word version
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas research, extension and teaching faculty, in collaboration
with Cornell University, are part of an ambitious and wide-ranging $9.95 million multi-university
grant that seeks to enhance poultry nutrition and well-being, improve the industry’s
water use and better prepare college students for careers in poultry.
The $9.95 million grant, “Empowering US Broiler Production for Transformation and
Sustainability,” was awarded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, part
of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s one of the largest grants ever made by
The Arkansas side of the grant involves poultry science faculty from the University
of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and its research and extension arms and
the teaching faculty of the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences,
part of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Arkansas is home to the John Tyson
Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, which opened in 1992 to provide support
for the state’s nearly $4 billion poultry industry.
“This is an enormously important project for the poultry industry, and especially
for Arkansas, where the poultry industry is so important to our economy,” said Mark
Cochran, vice president-agriculture, for the University of Arkansas System. “This
project draws on the strengths of all the participating institutions in a way that
we believe will be transformative in the industry. This does not I just attack one
challenge, it provides a 360-degree, comprehensive approach.
“Our Center of Excellence is strategically positioned for the breadth of this kind
of effort that will connect research from genetics, both in poultry and microbes,
production practices, poultry nutrition and health, product development and processing,
as well as the human health-promoting characteristics of the consumer and protein
product,” he said. “It’s a national recognition of our leadership in poultry science.”
Cornell University is the other major partner in the grant, which also includes faculty
from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Mississippi State University and Iowa
“Arkansas’ Center for Excellence in Poultry Science is arguably the best place in
the country to do poultry biology,” said Walter Bottje, who is the co-principal investigator
for the grant. Bottje is a professor of poultry science. “Partnering with Cornell’s
Dr. Xingen Lei, co-project director, brought together a perfect mix of expertise for
this project. We’ve all been working on innovations and through this grant, we can
bring all of those together in ways that haven’t been attempted before. We are hopeful
that some of what we do will have global implications.”
“We see awarding of this grant as a recognition not only of the strength of our research
programs, but also of our close ties to the poultry industry,” said Jean-Francois
Meullenet, director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station for the Division
of Agriculture. “We look forward to seeing this collaboration come alive and the research
put to good use across the industry.”
Poultry Nutrition/Water consumptionBottje said researchers at Arkansas will investigating water efficiency from genetic
and dietary studies, as well as heat tolerance and water use and its effects on the
poultry microbiome. One example of his is to investigate ways to reduce the amounts
of non-digestible material in the diet that can disrupt the microbial environment
in the bird’s hindgut that can lead to a number of bird health and management issues.
Poultry house water useWater is an essential factor in keeping poultry houses cool enough for birds to thrive
and grow. One of the most widely used means for cooling poultry houses is an evaporative
system that uses vertical pads through which water passes. Large fans at the end of
the poultry house pull air through the pads, making the air more humid to provide
evaporative cooling. However, a misting system that sprays water droplets directly
into the air in the house, followed by the fans being turned on, provides convective
cooling. Convective cooling uses 60-70 percent of the water used by evaporative systems.
The grant project will fund extension outreach to encourage adoption of the more water-efficient
Microalgae and feathersBottje said researchers at Cornell and Arkansas will also examine the potential for
microalgae as an animal feed; its potential to convert poultry litter into biofuels
and vegetable oil; as well as its ability to produce other valuable products such
as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamin D and enzymes such as phytase to enable
better absorption of phosphorus, and keratinase, which can break down feathers, freeing
up a protein that’s digestible.
Education“We are very interested in developing the next generation of farmers, professionals
and leaders for the poultry industry,” Bottje said. To do that, the grant effort will:
ExtensionAll of the findings from the grant will be transferred to the poultry industry and
the public through extension work, including workshops, national meetings, poultry
veterinarian meetings, poultry short courses, displays at state and county fairs,
4-H meetings and various digital communications, including a newsletter and social
To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural
Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uark.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch and Instagram at ArkAgResearch. To learn about poultry care in Arkansas, contact your county Cooperative Extension
Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow the Cooperative Extension Service on Twitter at @uaex_edu.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity,
sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran
status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative
Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Media Contact: Mary HightowerChief Communications Officer U of A System Division of Agriculture(501) firstname.lastname@example.org