New Laying Hen Research Facility dedicated

On Oct. 15, I had the opportunity to attend the dedication of the new Michigan State University Laying Hen Research Facility located at the Poultry Teaching and Research Center on Jolly Road.

Michigan legislation (PA 117), passed in 2009, phases out the use of conventional cages used in laying hen production during the next 10 years. MSU researchers will help determine what type of housing will be the most effective replacement. This work required a new facility, and the Michigan poultry industry brought together colleagues and competitors from other states to help create a unique, state-of-the-art facility that will facilitate research needed across the nation.

The facility will house a minimum of 6,000 laying hens in three different housing systems. The housing facility has 12 individual rooms with four rooms containing conventional housing, four rooms of enriched housing and four rooms of an aviary system. Researchers will access animal well-being in each system.

The poultry industry, including producers and companies that serve producers, has funded more than 80 percent of the costs of the facility’s construction. Investors include farms and companies from Michigan and across the nation.

Dr. Darrin Karcher, Extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science, provided leadership for development and construction of the facility. He’ll be involved in many of the studies that will put the facility to work.

Dr. Wendy Powers-Schilling, director of the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute, said, “Having a facility that allows for production research to be at the forefront of industry challenges provides us the opportunity to develop solutions and identify preferred practices ahead of policy provisions. This facility, in particular, is designed to enhance consumer confidence in food production practices by integrating social, economic and environmental considerations.”

Thanks to Darrin and the many partners in the industry and to MSU leaders who helped to support the development of this innovative investment. It positions Michigan well for the future.

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