Published on 12/21/16

Former UGA poultry scientist tapped by U.S. Department of State for outreach to South African farmers

By Merritt Melancon

Mike Lacy, professor emeritus and former head of the University of Georgia Department of Poultry Science, has been tapped by the U.S. Department of State to help train agricultural extension agents in South Africa and to provide support to poultry farmers there.

Lacy, who retired from UGA in 2016, will travel to South Africa in February 2017 as part of the Department of State’s Fulbright Specialist Program, a sponsored exchange program for academics and professionals.

Lacy worked in UGA Cooperative Extension poultry housing research for many years before entering administration. He led outreach trips to African countries throughout his career. In addition to assisting fledgling poultry industries, teams from UGA poultry science worked to build the capacity for rural, smallholder farmers, many of whom are women, to manage small-scale poultry flocks.

“Research on improving poultry genetics, reproduction, nutrition, husbandry, disease prevention and marketing especially impacts women in rural areas, who are the primary keepers of small flocks of chickens,” Lacy said. “These women, along with their children, will directly benefit from increased income and improved nutrition.”

Lacy will work with the World Poultry Foundation and the KwaZulu-Natal Poultry Institute to provide assistance to historically disadvantaged poultry producers who have faced significant production constraints due to high feed costs, absence of disease control and a severe lack of educational resources.

“Our college has one of the finest poultry science departments in the world. Mike Lacy’s scholarship, leadership and service is a big part of that success,” said Sam Pardue, dean and director of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “He is an outstanding choice to lead this important effort to help these struggling farmers.”

Lacy will be helping the KwaZulu-Natal Poultry Institute train extension agents to address the needs of small and disadvantaged producers in the country. He will help to teach government extension agents, poultry and egg farmers attending the KwaZulu-Natal Poultry Institute, and will visit farmers in South Africa to provide hands-on instruction and training in the areas of biosecurity, poultry housing, feed quality and conversion rates, disease prevention and egg quality.

He will also assist the KwaZulu-Natal Poultry Institute in evaluating their curricula and teaching programs.

An overarching goal of the project is to help South African small farmers increase egg and poultry meat production, which will help address protein malnutrition issues in their families and communities.

The Fulbright Specialist Program links U.S. scholars and professionals and their counterparts at host institutions overseas. The program awards grants to U.S. faculty and professionals who have been approved to join the roster of specialists in select disciplines in order to engage in short-term collaborative projects at eligible institutions in more than 140 countries worldwide.

For more information about the global work being done by faculty in UGA’s poultry science department, visit

Merritt Melancon is a public relations manager with UGA's Terry College of Business and previously served as a public relations coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension.

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