By Maggie Edwards
In a joint effort among the Alabama Farmers Federation, Alabama Poultry & Egg Association (APEA) and National Poultry Technology Center (NPTC), almost 50 poultry growers stepped away from the farm and gathered in Auburn Oct. 25 to fine-tune tricks of the trade.
Larry Upchurch, a Clay County poultry farmer, said he learned the importance of generator care and upkeep during the day-long session at NPTC’s demonstration chicken house.
“During the generator care demonstration, I learned the value of having someone other than myself trained to manage the farm and equipment so I can rest easy when I’m away from home,” Upchurch said.
The meeting’s major focus was to encourage producers to understand, analyze and prepare their equipment — and teach cost-effective methods to help farmers stay in business.
“We learned about the importance of checking water panels, fans and heaters,” said poultry producer Jeff Maze, the Blount County Farmers Federation president. “Things must work the way they are intended to. If a heater is not burning efficiently, we are still paying the same amount of money for the gas brought into the house, but we are not getting the same output. That costs us money.”
The seasonal training allows poultry farmers to learn from and interact with industry professionals through hands-on experiences.
“Ultimately, we just want to give that chicken the best care we can give it while utilizing cost-effective methods,” Maze said. “There is always something new in the poultry industry, so I’m thankful NPTC strives to help us and our bottom line.”
New and seasoned farmers found value in techniques taught by NPTC staff and APEA’s Ray Hilburn. Topics included efficiency when using fans, heaters, water, electricity and composting.
These topics are critical for farmers such as Maze and Upchurch. Alabama’s poultry industry has a $15 billion annual economic impact and ranks second in the nation in broiler, or meat chicken, production.
“We might know these things, but sometimes we need a reminder,” Upchurch said. “It’s good to brush up on things and take them back home to share. We are fortunate to have events like this in our state.”