Shown dedicating the Robert T. Hamilton Poultry Teaching and Research Farm, from left to right: Kevin Stiles, executive director, Iowa Egg Council; Todd Carlson, vice president of finance and operations, Henning Holdings; Daniel J. Robison, Endowed Dean’s Chair, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Kevin Walker, president, Henning Companies LLC; ISU President Wendy Wintersteen; Arlene Hamilton, president, Hamilton Foundation; Jonathan Cade, president, Hy-Line International; Bruce Dooyema, chair, Iowa Egg Council; Justin Haats, sales director, Hy-Line NA; Richard Gates, director, Egg Industry Center; Sara Weyer, ISU graduate student in agricultural and biosystems engineering; Larissa Holtmyer-Jones, president and CEO, Iowa State University Foundation.
Iowa State University dedicated the new Robert T. Hamilton Poultry Teaching and Research Farm south of Ames on March 5.
The hallmarks of the new facility include dedicated spaces for teaching and research, and a welcome area where visitors can see first-hand examples of Iowa egg production systems and learn about Iowa egg production. The state-of-the art building allows ISU to continue to support one of the state’s top industries: Iowa is the number-one-egg-producing state in the nation and processes 70 percent of the eggs produced in state.
The nearly $7 million facility was made possible solely through private funding.
“The fact that the Hamilton Poultry Research and Teaching Farm has been funded 100% through private gifts signifies the incredible strength of the state’s agricultural industry, and the trust Iowa agriculture places in Iowa State University,” said ISU President Wendy Wintersteen. “This is what Iowa State’s land-grant mission is all about – bringing together partners with a shared purpose of innovating solutions, preparing our future workforce and creating opportunities for industry to grow our economy.”
“A new chapter of Iowa State poultry science begins today,” said Daniel J. Robison, holder of the Endowed Dean’s Chair in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “We’re proud and excited about continuing a more than century-long tradition of excellence in poultry science in this tremendous, fully modernized facility. Thanks to our generous donors, we’ll better prepare our students for careers in poultry, egg and related agricultural industries. We’ll conduct research on innovative approaches to address challenges faced by these industries. And we’ll have a more welcoming site for extension and outreach education and training.”
Donors with Iowa connections committed major gifts for the new facility. A lead gift of $3 million from Arlene Hamilton and the Robert and Arlene Hamilton Charitable Foundation was given in honor of the couple who built a successful poultry and hog operation near Iowa Falls. The Hamiltons are considered pioneers of the modern layer chicken industry. The foundation is led by the Hamilton’s son, Scott, who earned his bachelor’s degree from Iowa State in animal science and agronomy.
The Iowa Egg Council Layer Research Wing was named in honor of the council, which committed over $1.5 million on behalf of the state’s egg farmers.
“The farm’s modern facilities will be a vital asset for egg production research, education and extension, especially for training the next generation of leaders in Iowa’s egg community,” said Kevin Stiles, executive director of the Iowa Egg Council.
The Hy-Line Genetics Research Wing was made possible by a major gift from Hy-Line International of Des Moines, the largest selling layer genetics company in the global egg industry, and Hy-Line North America, the largest U.S. commercial layer chick distributor. The Hy-Line Genetics Research Wing will support research that includes work with Iowa State’s historic, inbred poultry research line, the oldest of its kind in the world and the subject of many studies, especially in disease resistance.
“Adoption of new technology and improvements in the science of genetics drives progress for Hy-Line, as well as economic progress in our state and industry,” said Jonathan Cade, president of Hy-Line International. “This facility will support education of students who will go on to help our company and others assure a sustainable, welfare-friendly source of protein around the world.”
Hy-Line and the Iowa Egg Council also are providing in-kind gifts of hens to stock the new facility.
The Henning Family Atrium, supported by a $750,000 gift from Jeff and Cindy Henning of Johnston, Iowa, provides a public entry and learning center. Its viewing windows and classrooms allow direct observation of laying areas and interaction with a poultry production barn, bringing new opportunities for education and training.
“The Henning family is proud to pay it forward to future leaders of the industry by supporting and constructing this poultry facility,” said Jeff Henning. “We are committed to lasting relationships that move all aspects of the industry forward by way of research, education, development, construction and implementation.”
Additional contributions and gifts-in-kind to ensure the facility has state-of-the-art equipment and operating systems were provided by: Big Dutchman, Inc.; Munters Corporation; Once Inc.; Best Veterinary Solutions, Fienhage Poultry-Solutions; L.B. White Company; NatureForm/Pas Reform North America; Chore-Time; QC Supply; Poultry Management Systems, Inc.; Vencomatic Inc.; and Ziggity Systems, Inc.
Donors to the Robert T. Hamilton Poultry Teaching and Research Farm made their gift commitments through the Iowa State University Foundation, a private, nonprofit organization committed to securing and managing gifts that benefit Iowa State University.
The new facility was developed on the 11-acre site of the former Iowa State University Poultry Science Farm three miles south of central campus. It replaces aging buildings that dated back to the early 1960s.
The facility will accommodate education and research on poultry housing systems, nutrition, food safety and microbiology, flock behavior, genetics, health and welfare, and environmental issues, including waste management. Its special features include:
• Dedicated areas for poultry housing and egg processing set up with the latest equipment for students to study and practice contemporary egg production methods.
• Research facilities that provide flexible space and equipment to accommodate multiple projects.
• Enhanced levels of biosecurity and sanitation, plus zoned air-handling systems to independently control administrative, education and research wings within the facility.
The new facilities also will enhance Iowa State’s role as a leader in the Midwest Poultry Consortium Center of Excellence scholarship and internship program for undergraduates. In 2020, Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will host this 25-year-old regional summer educational program, welcoming 32 students from 13 universities in the Midwest for courses to learn more about poultry science and practice with laboratory training and industry field trips.
The poultry farm will provide opportunities for collaborations for faculty, students and partners in the Department of Animal Science, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, the College of Veterinary Medicine, the Egg Industry Center and federal researchers with the USDA Agricultural Research Service.