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Production Underway at Animal Nutrition Center

26 November 2012

US - Auburn University's new $7.1 million Poultry and Animal Nutrition Center, a state-of-the-art academic and research feed production facility located on a 50-acre site north of the main campus, officially opened on Friday 16 November, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by university administrators and representatives of the poultry and feed mill industries.

"The new Poultry and Animal Nutrition Center at Auburn is the result of a partnership between the university and agribusiness," Auburn President Jay Gogue said.

The feed mill has had strong industry support since plans began taking shape in early 2008, when a technical advisory committee that included poultry nutritionists and feed mill personnel was formed to provide input on the facility's design and equipment. Thus far, more than 40 corporations have donated to the facility, including $750,000 in equipment.

The feed mill opens as the nation observes the 150th anniversary of the 1862 Morrill Land-Grant Act, which established a system of public universities to provide practical educations to the sons and daughters of America's working class. Auburn and the more than 100 other land-grant universities nationwide have a three-fold mission of teaching, research and outreach. Auburn officials say the Poultry and Animal Nutrition Center is poised to enhance programs in all three areas.

Housed inside a 12,500-square-foot steel building, the new feed mill is comprised of nine prefabricated modules, each 40 feet long by 8 feet wide by 9 feet and 6 inches high, that were manufactured in Minnesota, trucked 1,100-plus miles to Auburn on nine flatbed trailers and then assembled on site in stacks of three.

The modular design is "a small-scale adaptation of a commercial mega-facility" and is ideal for teaching, said Don Conner, head of the Department of Poultry Science at Auburn and the driving force in moving the feed mill from an idea to reality.

"We're in the process of putting together an introduction-to-feed-milling course, and we're going to move labs in some of our existing courses out here as well," Conner said. "We also are going to develop more aggressive courses that eventually will be part of a degree program in feed mill management."

That's good news to Auburn poultry science alum Mitchell Pate, who headed Sylvest Farms Inc.'s feed milling division in Montgomery for 16 years before returning to Auburn in 2006 as director of the Poultry Research Unit.

"The industry is losing feed mill managers; we need the next generation," Mr Pate said. "I am very excited about the nutrition center and the impact it will have on the poultry industry and on Auburn University."

"In Alabama and globally, the agriculture sectors face daunting challenges in the future, and as demands on our resources continue to soar, animal nutrition will become a huge global issue," Auburn College of Agriculture Dean and Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station Director Bill Batchelor said.

"The feed-milling industry will be more essential than ever, as the need for feeds that optimize poultry, livestock and fish production increase."

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