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UGA holds successful precision poultry science conference

By for CAES News

On May 4, 2021, the Poultry Science Department at the University of Georgia (UGA) hosted the inaugural 2021 Georgia Precision Poultry Farming Conference virtually via Zoom. The day-long event was a UGA Cooperative Extension conference initiated by Lilong Chai, assistant professor and engineering specialist in the Department of Poultry Science, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, along with support from department administration and fellow faculty members and researchers. Chai also served as the moderator for the conference. 

“We had a successful conference. The event attracted 322 registrations from poultry and egg farms, poultry service companies, academia and government agencies globally from more than 30 countries,” said Chai.

Todd Applegate, professor and head of the Department of Poultry Science at the University of Georgia, started the conference off by giving a welcome to attendees and an update on the department. Casey Ritz, professor and Extension poultry program coordinator in the Department of Poultry Science, gave the update on UGA poultry Extension programs and trainings.

Afterward, attendees heard from seven expert speakers on topics such as poultry wellbeing, new technological applications of precision poultry farming, and experience with precision management practices applicable to the poultry sector. The expert speakers included: David Wicker, vice president of live operations at Fieldale Farms Corporation; Darrin Karcher, associate professor and Extension poultry specialist in the Department of Animal Sciences at Purdue University; Brian Kiepper, associate professor and Extension specialist in the Department of Poultry Science at UGA; Colin Usher, senior research scientist at the Georgia Tech Research Institute; Brian Jordan, associate professor in the Department of Poultry Science and the Department of Population Health at UGA; Yang Zhao, assistant professor in the Animal Science Department at the University of Tennessee; and Prafulla Regmi, assistant professor in the Department of Poultry Science at UGA. Members of an expert panel that wrapped up the program and included: Simon Cohen, vice president of M-Tech Systems USA; Doug Britton, principal research engineer with the Georgia Tech Research Institute and program manager for the Agricultural Technology Research Program (ATRP) at Georgia Tech; Changying “Charlie” Li, professor and distinguished faculty scholar in the College of Engineering at UGA; and Applegate.

The global population is predicted to reach 9.5 billion in 2050, when the global requirement for animal protein (e.g., eggs, meat and milk) will increase by more than 70% as compared to 2005. Providing animal protein for the increasing world population with limited natural resources is a grand challenge, which requires precision operation of livestock and poultry farming. Precision poultry farming (PPF) is the use of advanced technologies to optimize the production, health, and welfare management of individual animals. Currently, the U.S. is the world’s largest poultry producer, with annual sales value of $40 billion, making research, development and training of PPF critical in the U.S. poultry sector. 

As the top poultry producing state in the U.S., Georgia is home to many nationally ranked poultry production and processing companies, as well as a multitude of companies supplying poultry technologies to the world. The 2021 Georgia Precision Poultry Farming Conference provided a training and information exchange opportunity for stakeholders on the challenges and opportunities related to future of poultry farming. The Department of Poultry Science plans to host this Extension conference annually. 

Claire Marie Coleman is an undergraduate student majoring in agricultural communication in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences' Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication.
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