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Rendering of the planned Cargill Poultry Research Center, expected to be completed August 2018. University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture
Rendering of the planned Cargill Poultry Research Center, expected to be completed August 2018.

University of Arkansas breaks ground on Cargill Poultry Research Center

Cargill donates $150,000 to build poultry health lab at University of Arkansas that will research antibiotic alternatives.

University of Arkansas researchers investigating antibiotic alternatives in poultry production will have a new state-of-the-art facility for their work, thanks to a $150,000 donation from Cargill as part of the company’s focus on producing food in a safe, responsible and sustainable manner, according to the university.

The 4,200 sq. ft. facility will be located on the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture farm north of the Fayetteville, Ark., campus. The facility will be named the Cargill Poultry Research Center.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the center was held April 19, and the building is expected to be completed in mid-August.

“At a time when consumers are more interested in the source of their food, it’s increasingly important for the poultry industry to find ways to keep birds healthy in sustainable ways,” said Mark Cochran, vice president-agriculture for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “We are most appreciative of this generous donation from Cargill to enable our world-class poultry scientists to further advance the science for the healthiest poultry.”

Dr. Brian Wooming, Cargill turkey veterinarian based in Springdale, Ark., noted that Cargill supports the work being done by the division and added that the company's "goal is to continuously work toward reducing the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture and the work that will be done at this new facility is essential to helping achieve that objective.”

Work at the facility will be led by Dr. Billy Hargis, director of the Poultry Health Lab for the Center of Excellence for Poultry Science within the Division of Agriculture. Hargis joined the center of excellence in 2000. His research interests are poultry health, food safety intervention and poultry immunology and endocrinology. He was named a Poultry Science Assn. fellow in 2015 and distinguished professor in 2017.

“There are many potential alternatives,” Hargis said. “These products include probiotics, prebiotics and a host of nutraceutical-type products. However, there is no independent verification of the efficacy claimed for these products. Evaluating these options will be among the first actions to be taken in this new facility.”

The facility will be used by poultry health researchers, flock management specialists and nutritionists within the Division of Agriculture, including graduate students and post-doctoral employees. They will be evaluating products currently available, as well as developing novel and promising probiotics and other products for commercialization. Matching dollars provided by Tyson Foods for this project are part of a $1.3 million gift to fund various improvements to the Division of Agriculture’s farm.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

Cargill’s 155,000 employees across 70 countries work relentlessly to achieve our purpose of nourishing the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way. It combines 153 years of experience with new technologies and insights to serve as a trusted partner for food, agriculture, financial and industrial customers in more than 125 countries.

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