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The Fresno State Animal Sciences and Agricultural Education Department is acquiring a new Foster Farms Poultry Education and Research Facility, which is scheduled to open spring of 2013.

The tunnel-ventilated broiler house will be 16,000 square-feet and house an eco-friendly research and training center that will function as a professional poultry production facility.

The center is made possible by a gift given to Fresno State by Foster Farms, which also contributes to the engineering, design and construction as well as providing ongoing program support.

“With state support dwindling, this is an example of an industry stepping forward and helping us meet the needs, current and future, of our student body for training in the industry,” said Dr. Art Parham, chair of the Animal Sciences and Agricultural Education Department.

The facility will have advanced temperature control, monitoring systems and ultra-efficient LED lighting.

The unit will take approximately four to six months to complete, Parham said. The foundation has been poured and construction of the building is scheduled to begin the Sept. 24.

Parham and his colleague Michelle Ganci, a poultry professor at Fresno State, were approached by the California Poultry Federation, expressing its wish to see more students graduate with experience in the poultry industry.

Foster Farms took on the project and will provide the funds for the facility, student labor, faculty supervision and any other expense that may arise.

“They are basically paying all the costs that goes into running this facility,” Parham said.

The poultry facility, which will be supervised by Ganci, is set to have six flocks a year— approximately 20,000 chickens. Of these, 1,200 birds will be set aside to sell at the Fresno State Farm Market. The facility will provide broiler chickens. There will not be an egg— laying hen facility at this time, though Ganci would like to see one installed.

The facility will give students an opportunity to gain hands-on experience within the industry, which hires many Fresno State graduates. Students will also gain a basic understanding of working with poultry in a production setting.

Students who are hired to help run the facility will be paid for their labor, also provided by Foster Farms.

There are about 40 students in the poultry class. However, all the students in the Animal Science and Agricultural Education Department, which has about 600 students involved, can utilize and benefit from the facility, Ganci said. She also is excited to work with the California poultry industry, which many of her students go on to work for.

“I appreciate the California industry. They care about the welfare and health of the animals they raise,” Ganci said. “They do it economically and socially; and they are environmentally responsible.

The unit will also serve as a research facility for the poultry industry. Some research opportunities are feed options, antibiotic-free birds and solar powered facilities, says Ganci.

The industry is one that is constantly changing, said Parham. The goal is to always ahead of the game.

“If you’re not going forward, you’re moving back,” Parham said.

The poultry facility will be located on campus north of Barstow Ave, west of the dairy unit, between Woodrow and Chestnut Ave.