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New poultry learning center showcases animal care

Credit: buhanovskiy/iStock/Thinkstock. broiler chickens
Center includes large viewing room that allows guests to observe birds undisturbed in their environment.

A new Poultry Learning Center recently debuted at Cooley Farms in Roberta, Ga. The new educational facility will host guests of all ages for a transparent, interactive experience to learn about various aspects of poultry farming and proper animal care.

Built seamlessly into the side of a working chicken house, the learning center includes a large viewing room that allows guests to observe the birds undisturbed in their environment. Educational videos explain what visitors see inside the chicken house as well as the timeline from when farmers receive the birds to how they raise and care for them while they’re on the farm.

Additionally, guests have the opportunity for hands-on learning using actual poultry equipment that replicates what they see through the window, including mechanized feeders and waterers and automated temperature control technology.

The Cooleys, a multi-generation farm family, have been raising poultry for Perdue Farms since 2004 and are the second Perdue farm family to install a viewing room at their farm.

“We’ve hosted field trips and tours for years and always loved sharing what we’re so proud to do every day. Our new viewing room and learning center will allow us to host even more students, educators, city and state leaders, media and any others interested in learning about agriculture and raising animals,” Cooley Farms co-founder, owner and operator and principal tour guide Terri Cooley said.

Leighton Cooley, Cooley Farms co-owner and operator, said the learning center has been his mom’s dream for a while, and she had been the driving force behind making it a reality.

“The family saw her vision and pulled together to bring it to life,” he said. “There’s a lot of bad information out there about animal agriculture. We want to help people understand where their food comes from and how our animals are raised and openly discuss any misconceptions they might have. We are proud to raise chickens for Perdue and share like-minded values regarding animal care and doing things the right way.”

The family farm has a history of poultry farming going back four generations.

“We’re humbled by the opportunity to share our passion with others,” co-founder, owner and operator Larry Cooley said.

During a celebration at the farm to officially open the new facility, the Cooley family hosted more than 100 guests for inaugural tours, highlighted key partners that helped make the project possible and welcomed speakers who included Georgia agriculture commissioner Gary Black, American Farm Bureau Federation executive director of industry relations Sarah Brown Dirkes, Georgia Poultry Federation president Mike Giles and Perdue Farms chairman Jim Perdue.

“Together, we’re focused on the best possible care for our animals and putting wholesome food on people’s tables,” Jim Perdue said. “The Cooley family has built a new way to educate people on how we do that. We’re moving from telling people what we do to opening our doors and letting them come see for themselves. It’s the next step in transparency.”

Perdue added, “Our company is turning 100 years old next year, and we would not have made it this far without committed partners like the Cooleys. As someone who comes from a family company, this means a lot to me personally.”

Owned and operated by Larry, Terri, Leighton and Brenda Cooley, Cooley Farms raises chickens, cattle and hay in Roberta. The farm began operating in 1985 on 70 acres of land with two broiler houses and has grown and evolved over the years, especially in the area of chicken production. Today, Cooley Farms raises approximately 500,000 chickens per flock on behalf of Perdue Farms, which equates to 3 million chickens per year in its 16 state-of-the-art poultry houses.

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