David Morrison, Chaney, John A.
Work is under way on a new poultry demonstration facility at the LSU AgCenter’s Hill Farm Research Station at Homer.
The facility, being built in response to a request from the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation’s poultry advisory committee, will be constructed with a combination of state and private funds, according to Dr. David Morrison, associate vice chancellor in the LSU AgCenter.
The project is planned to include two broiler houses that will allow the LSU AgCenter to demonstrate and evaluate new equipment for broiler growers.
The broiler industry in Louisiana operates as a cooperative effort among poultry companies and growers.
Two poultry companies – Pilgrim’s Pride and House of Raeford Farm – operate processing plants in the state. Louisiana growers produce harvest-ready broilers for both companies as well as for Tyson Foods. Known as integrators in industry language, the companies provide the birds and feed while the growers provide the facilities and labor.
"When growers can make informed management decisions, it should increase their opportunity to increase the profit that can be taken from their operations," Morrison said.
Dr. Bill Richardson, LSU AgCenter chancellor, said the AgCenter is firmly committed to the $200,000 needed to construct one broiler house but needs the resources of private partners to construct a second house.
Morrison said two houses are necessary to operate on the same scale as growers, so the information generated by the demonstration facility can be transferred to commercial operations.
LSU AgCenter administrators anticipate equipment to outfit the houses will be donated by manufacturers while the funds needed to prepare the site and build the structures will come from private donations.
Among those donors, Benoit Holloway Jr. of Peck Construction Co. of Marion already has begun preparing the approximately 5-acre site with donated labor and equipment that has an estimated value of $20,000.
In addition, Darrel Jans, chief executive officer of Louisiana Land Bank, recently announced a contribution of $10,000. Peoples State Bank of Many, Louisiana Ag Credit of Arcadia and First Guaranty Bank of Homer also have pledged financial support.
Benoit and Pam Holloway learned the value of education and leadership while attending the first LSU AgCenter Leadership class in 1988-90, and they volunteered to do the site preparation work for the poultry houses at the Hill Farm Research Station.
"We learned so much practical information from the agricultural leadership class that helped us in our businesses – poultry farm and construction businesses," said Benoit. "Now we are giving back to the program by building the pads for the LSU AgCenter poultry houses."
Poultry production is the No. 1 animal agricultural industry in Louisiana – with an economic contribution of more than $1.5 billion in 2004, according to the LSU AgCenter.
The LSU AgCenter estimates more than 400 broiler growers operate in Louisiana, primarily in 12 north central parishes.
"This donation is a blessing at the beginning of the construction project," Dr. Allen Nipper said concerning the Holloways’ contribution. "And the success of the project depends on the sharing of ideas and talents in the poultry community," the LSU AgCenter regional director for North Central Louisiana added.
Holloway’s company moved more than 12,000 cubic yards of soil to level the site for the construction of two poultry houses – each 42 feet wide and 500 feet long.
"As a poultry farmer who owns eight houses, I recognize the need for this facility to test equipment and provide a place where growers can observe the new equipment in operation before making a purchasing decision," Holloway said. "This facility will help growers avoid making costly, uninformed purchasing decisions."
The LSU AgCenter will conduct demonstrations with advice and counsel from a steering committee made up of representatives of the growers, poultry integrators, financial institutions and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.
"This committee will be guided by the growers in the area to determine the equipment to be tested at the station," said Ron Harrell of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation. He said the facility will be a "win-win situation" for the growers, companies and the LSU AgCenter.
"Hopefully, with the contributions of people like the Holloways, we will be able to become a center to answer the questions of poultry producers and the industry in a more timely manner," said Nipper.
With the site preparation work completed, Nipper said he anticipates bidding and construction will begin in early summer.
David Morrison at (225) 578-4182 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Allen Nipper at (318) 664-5980 or email@example.com
Ron Harrell at (225) 922-6211 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Rick Bogren at (225) 578-5839 or email@example.com
John Chaney at (318) 473-6589 or firstname.lastname@example.org