Research ramping up at the Stanley L. Balloun Turkey Teaching and Research Facility

With great excitement for the future, the first flock of poults entered the Stanley L. Balloun Turkey Teaching and Research facility during November of 2022. Iowa is the 7th leading state for turkey production and this project was driven by strong turkey industry support.

Poults in Balloun Turkey Teaching and Research FacilityThe first round of poults were in the brooder for about 6 weeks, then purchased by a farmer to grow to market weight.

This state-of-the-art facility will help meet the advancing technology needs of today’s turkey industry and provide a classroom where students can experience hands-on learning in modern turkey production. 

Tanner Volkmann, farm manager, said, “A unique feature of this research brooder is the controller system that allows me to check how many amps of electricity the heaters and fans are pulling. I am also able to program a lighting curve and see the percentage that the inlets are open and I am able to access it on my phone at all times.”

This facility will facilitate a wide variety of multi-disciplinary research due to the new technology included in modern turkey production. Brett Ramirez, assistant professor in agriculture & biosystems engineering, evaluated the environmental control system performance to monitor and benchmark indoor environment conditions during cold weather. This research is used to learn about indoor conditions uniformity, stability and performance. Dawn Koltes, assistant professor in the department of animal science collected samples to characterize intestinal growth and health and Yuko Sato, association professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine characterized the presence and possible transmission of ornithobacterium rhinotracheale presumed to cause ornithobacterium infections or ORT.

PoultsThe second flock of poults were placed at the end of Januaryand will spend 5 weeks in the brooder room then move over to grower side of the new facility. These birds will be fed different inclusion rates of dried distillers grains of varying protein concentration. This project focuses on poult performance and will measure feed usage and body weight gain.

As the poults move into the grower finisher, poults will be placed on two bedding materials commonly used in Iowa to determine differences in bedding quality for the health of the bird, economics and for use as a fertilizer.

The facility has hosted several public and student groups to learn more about turkey production, hosted a training event for the ISU Academic Quadrathlon team, and engages at least 5 undergraduate and 2 graduate students. This summer the farm will play a role in training undergraduate students from the Midwest Poultry Consortium Center of Excellence program in turkey production and will provide opportunities for students in agriculture & biosystems engineering to fulfill their capstone project requirement.

We are looking forward to the cutting-edge research and educational opportunities this facility will provide to students and the turkey growers in the state of Iowa and beyond.