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Iowa State dedicates poultry teaching, research farm

Iowa State University Iowa State rthpoultryfarmdedication2020.jpg
Shown dedicating the Robert T. Hamilton Poultry Teaching & Research Farm, from left to right: Kevin Stiles, executive director, Iowa Egg Council; Todd Carlson, vice president of finance and operations, Henning Holdings; Daniel J. Robison, endowed dean’s chair, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences; Kevin Walker, president, Henning Companies LLC; Iowa State president Wendy Wintersteen; Arlene Hamilton, president, Hamilton Foundation; Jonathan Cade, president, Hy-Line International; Bruce Dooyema, chair, Iowa Egg Council; Justin Haats, sales director, Hy-Line NA; Richard Gates, director, Egg Industry Center; Sara Weyer, Iowa State graduate student in agricultural and biosystems engineering; Larissa Holtmyer-Jones, president and chief executive officer, Iowa State University Foundation.
Nearly $7 million facility was made possible solely through private funding.

Iowa State University recently dedicated the new Robert T. Hamilton Poultry Teaching & Research Farm, located to the south of Ames, Iowa.

The hallmarks of the new facility include dedicated spaces for teaching and research and a welcome area where visitors can see firsthand examples of Iowa egg production systems and learn about Iowa egg production, the university said in an announcement.

The state-of-the art building allows Iowa State to continue to support one of the state’s top industries: Iowa is the number-one egg-producing state in the nation and processes 70% of the eggs produced in state.

The nearly $7 million facility was made possible solely through private funding, the university said.

“The fact that the Hamilton Poultry Research & Teaching Farm has been funded 100% through private gifts signifies the incredible strength of the state’s agricultural industry and the trust Iowa agriculture places in Iowa State University,” Iowa State president Wendy Wintersteen said. “This is what Iowa State’s land-grant mission is all about: bringing together partners with a shared purpose of innovating solutions, preparing our future workforce and creating opportunities for industry to grow our economy.”

Daniel J. Robison, holder of the endowed dean’s chair in the Iowa State College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, added, “A new chapter of Iowa State poultry science begins today. We’re proud and excited about continuing a more than century-long tradition of excellence in poultry science in this tremendous, fully modernized facility. Thanks to our generous donors, we’ll better prepare our students for careers in poultry, egg and related agricultural industries. We’ll conduct research on innovative approaches to address challenges faced by these industries, and we’ll have a more welcoming site for extension and outreach education and training.”

Donors with Iowa connections committed major gifts for the new facility. A lead gift of $3 million from Arlene Hamilton and the Robert & Arlene Hamilton Charitable Foundation was given in honor of the couple, who built a successful poultry and hog operation near Iowa Falls, Iowa.

The Iowa Egg Council Layer Research Wing was named in honor of the council, which committed more than $1.5 million on behalf of the state’s egg farmers.

“The farm’s modern facilities will be a vital asset for egg production research, education and extension, especially for training the next generation of leaders in Iowa’s egg community,” Iowa Egg Council executive director Kevin Stiles said.

The Hy-Line Genetics Research Wing was made possible by a major gift from Hy-Line International of Des Moines, Iowa, the largest-selling layer genetics company in the global egg industry, and Hy-Line North America, the largest U.S. commercial layer chick distributor. The Hy-Line Genetics Research Wing will support research that includes work with Iowa State’s historic, inbred poultry research line, the oldest of its kind in the world and the subject of many studies, especially in disease resistance.

“Adoption of new technology and improvements in the science of genetics drives progress for Hy-Line as well as economic progress in our state and industry,” Hy-Line International president Jonathan Cade said. “This facility will support education of students who will go on to help our company and others assure a sustainable, welfare-friendly source of protein around the world.”

Hy-Line and the Iowa Egg Council also are providing in-kind gifts of hens to stock the new facility.

The Henning Family Atrium, supported by a $750,000 gift from Jeff and Cindy Henning of Johnston, Iowa, provided a public entry and learning center. Its viewing windows and classrooms allow for direct observation of laying areas and interaction with a poultry production barn, bringing new opportunities for education and training.

“The Henning family is proud to pay it forward to future leaders of the industry by supporting and constructing this poultry facility,” Jeff Henning said. “We are committed to lasting relationships that move all aspects of the industry forward by way of research, education, development, construction and implementation.”

Iowa State said additional contributions and gifts-in-kind to ensure that the facility has state-of-the-art equipment and operating systems were provided by: Big Dutchman Inc., Munters Corp., Once Inc., Best Veterinary Solutions/Fienhage Poultry-Solutions, L.B. White Co., NatureForm/Pas Reform North America, Chore-Time, QC Supply, Poultry Management Systems Inc., Vencomatic Inc. and Ziggity Systems Inc.

Donors to the Robert T. Hamilton Poultry Teaching & Research Farm made their gift commitments through the Iowa State University Foundation, a private, nonprofit organization committed to securing and managing gifts that benefit Iowa State University.

The new facility was developed on the 11-acre site of the former Iowa State University Poultry Science Farm three miles south of the central campus. It replaced aging buildings that dated back to the early 1960s.

Iowa State said the facility will accommodate education and research on poultry housing systems, nutrition, food safety and microbiology, flock behavior, genetics, health, welfare and environmental issues, including waste management.

Its special features include:

  • Dedicated areas for poultry housing and egg processing set up with the latest equipment for students to study and practice contemporary egg production methods;
  • Research facilities that provide flexible space and equipment to accommodate multiple projects, and
  • Enhanced levels of biosecurity and sanitation, plus zoned air handling systems to independently control administrative, education and research wings within the facility.
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