NE1942: Enhancing Poultry Production Systems through Emerging Technologies and Husbandry Practices

(Multistate Research Project)

Status: Active


The United States Poultry and Egg Association, the worlds’ largest and most active poultry industry organization, has identified the need for incorporating engineering and technology to enhance energy/resource efficiencies for layers, broilers, and turkeys. In addition, this non-profit organization considers its strategic objectives to be responsive to the changing needs of the poultry industry, to advance research in poultry science and technology, and to address the safety of processed poultry and poultry products. Past and ongoing research from this multi-state organization is in direct alignment with these objectives in terms of providing a collaborative approach to enhance poultry research in the area of nutrition, environmental control, air quality, housing systems, lighting, automation and robotics, food safety and security, health and bird welfare. Moreover, the United Egg Producers (UEP), a laying hen industry-wide commodity group has identified the need for the development of enhanced technology to address management techniques to improve laying hen performance, behavior, and well-being in alternative housing systems (cage-free aviaries). Furthermore, industry organizations such as the Egg Industry Center also supports collaborative research and outreach activities to find appropriate solutions to the questions faced by the poultry and egg industry.

Due to an increasing global population, there is a need for sustainably, efficiently, and safely produced and processed protein, such as poultry. Adapting Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) techniques to poultry production and processing systems will further enhance the industry’s capability to meet the growing demand. Consumer and retail demands of the poultry industry have resulted in an expansion in a variety of production and feeding systems with differing constraints and knowledge base. The collaborative research efforts outlined here will further expand the concept of PLF, using automated continuous monitoring of animals to allow producers to record and assess in real-time, the health and welfare status of their animals. The approach includes the use of automation and robotics, equipment efficiency, facility design, energy, and resource allocation. In addition, improvements in antimicrobial intervention technologies and processing methods will mitigate the risk of foodborne pathogens in poultry and poultry products.

Poultry production systems must be optimized to be more energy/resource efficient, minimize their carbon footprint and sustainable through infrastructure development throughout the blockchain of production, that is, breeder, hatchery, producer, processor, and consumer. Collaborative research can help tie together the different components of the system and their relationships. The consequences of not renewing the project will result in the loss of the poultry industry’s position in the global marketplace and the ability to provide safe and nutritious poultry products to consumers throughout the world.

This multi-state poultry research team is comprised of environmental physiologists, behaviorists, animal welfare scientists, nutritionists, engineers, extension scientists, microbiologists, and economists. These collaborators have access to commercial-type, pilot scale, and laboratory-scale facilities with the equipment and expertise necessary to work in the proposed areas of research. Collaboration has been documented in the past with successful outcomes reported. Additionally, this multi-state group has several leading industry experts that are active participants. These industry connections provide valuable input and link researchers with commercial operations/birds/equipment to maximize the relevance and feasibility of research efforts.


Collaborators at the experimental stations in AL, AR, CA, GA, GA-ARS, HI, IA, IL, IN, IN-ARS, KY, MD, MI, MN, MS, MS-ARS, NE, NC, PA, TX, VA, WI, and Bern (Switzerland), will work on research related to the following objectives:

  1. Integrating technological advances into poultry systems:

Emphasis on collaborative and translational research incorporating science, engineering, and technology to enhance system efficiency and sustainability through infrastructure development of blockchain production.

  1. Establishing and adopting husbandry practices to a changing industry landscape:

Collaborative research will encompass a multi-disciplinary approach to create a resilient poultry production system through optimal management of inputs and outputs in an ethically responsible manner.

Some of the unique instruments and facilities that will be used and shared are emission chambers (IA, IL, and PA), portable air monitoring units (IL), multi-channel telometric body temperature sensors systems (IA), multi-station individual bird feeding units (IA), environment chambers and animal calorimeters (CA, IA, IL, PA, MS, and VA). We also have state of the art commercial poultry production facilities which will allow us to conduct research (AL, IA, IN, IL, MN, MS, NC, PA, and VA). In addition, some of our collaborators possess biosafety level (BSL) 2 pathogen containment facilities for conducting challenge experiments in all production birds (AL, MN, MS, CT, and VA). Facilities with fully functioning processing plants for converting birds to food (GA, AL, and WI) and BSL 2 poultry processing research (GA and AL) are available for use. The specialized equipment located at these stations can enhance collaborative research efforts and could bring synergistic outcomes. Therefore, the collaborative use of these facilities by participating universities and USDA stations will maximize research productivity.

Due to the complexity of the poultry industry needs, research objectives addressed by this multi-state project could not be accomplished at any single station/university. Each of the researchers has expertise and facilities to address some component(s) of poultry production efficiency, well-being, nutrition, environmental concerns, facility management, and/or technical monitoring of poultry environments and poultry processing. To best comprehensively address the challenges facing the poultry industry identified in this project, a collaborative effort is necessary and will eliminate duplication of effort and conserve resources.

Data generated from these collaborative research efforts will enhance the resiliency of the poultry industry through real-time monitoring (digital, thermal, spectral, and spatial) of facilities, leading to improved poultry welfare, performance, food safety and security throughout the blockchain of poultry production.

The successful completion of the objectives outlined in this proposal will lead to:

  • Incorporation of advanced science, engineering and technology into poultry production facilities to enhance system efficiency, and improve production efficiency and poultry well-being.
  • Identification of relationships between environmental, nutritional, and disease factors that affect poultry well-being, food safety, and economics.
  • Establishment and adoption of current and future poultry husbandry practices and development of a trained scientific workforce to address a changing industry landscape.
  • Development of new antimicrobial intervention technologies or processing methods to control foodborne pathogens in poultry and poultry products.


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