AMES, Iowa—Earlier this month, a total of 1,800 poults (young turkeys) were transferred to Stanley L. Balloun’s new Turkey Teaching and Research Facility at Iowa State University.

A commercial broad-breasted white breed, turkeys provide Iowa state students with experiential learning opportunities through research and independent study projects. Students will also learn about turkeys during lectures and have the opportunity to visit the facility in future semesters because the turkeys are arriving late this semester, said Dawn Koltes, assistant professor of animal sciences.

“We are thrilled that the chicks have arrived and look forward to the educational opportunities this state-of-the-art facility and the birds will bring to our students,” Koltes said.

The Balloun Turkey teaching and research facility was inaugurated in May 2022 and is the only facility of its kind focused on turkey production at a major university. Located adjacent to the Robert T. Hamilton Poultry Teaching and Research Farm on 520th Avenue south of Ames, the new turkey facility will strengthen Iowa’s existing poultry science program.

“The opening of this farm represents several years of vision, planning, hard work and synergy between Iowa State University and the turkey farmers of Iowa,” said Jason Ross, professor and chair of the Iowa State Department of Animal Science. “The teaching and research capabilities of this farm are unlike anywhere else in the United States, and our faculty and staff look forward to educating the industry’s future leaders and driving innovative solutions for America’s turkey farmers.”

Andrew Christensen, Junior in General Preveterinary Medicine, helped with some construction work on the farm and with the arrival of the chicks.

“Working on the new Iowa turkey farm has given me an insight into the turkey production industry and will do the same for many others for years to come,” said Christensen. “This facility represents a step forward not only for our education but for the industry as a whole as it will provide valuable research to improve production.”

Research conducted at the facility will address current challenges facing the Iowa turkey industry and aim to advance this industry, which generates more than $10 billion annually in economic activity statewide.

In addition, the facility will later offer continuing education and outreach programs for industry professionals, as well as an observation area where visitors can see examples of turkey production systems.

“The turkey industry welcomes the introduction of this facility. Turkey farmers have a constant desire to learn new information about how to better protect their turkeys and the environment,” said Gretta Irwin, executive director of the Iowa Turkey Federation. “We expect to conduct research on a wide variety of topics – feed, nutrition, equipment, aeration, turkey welfare and manure – and explore a wide range of emerging technologies. Iowa State University’s outstanding faculty, students and new facility will provide farmers with the information they need to make improvements.”

The system was financed by industrial partners and private donors. Jim and Julie Balloun of Atlanta, Georgia provided the main gift. Jim is the son of Stanley L. Balloun, a former professor of animal sciences at Iowa State University. Both Stanley and Jim are Iowa State alumni.

(Contributed press release)

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