Illinois is not known as a key chicken production state. Regardless of this fact, the state’s Land Grant university is a primary player in the poultry industry. Todd Gleason has this review of ILLINOIS’ applied research prowess and its relationship to the state’s agricultural feed production history.
Farmers in the Prairie State raise corn and soybeans and they do it really well. These crops are used to feed animals and birds; chickens. Lots of chickens, but most of them are reared in other states. Much of the feed comes from Illinois and so does the research that supports the nation’s poultry industry says Ken Koelkebeck (coal-keg-beck) from the University of Illinois.
Quote Summary - One of the first things we did was to develop a specific line that allowed the color sexing of baby chicks. This was very important because it made it easy to do research. We had two breeds, back in the 1950’s, when crossed together that produced chicks that came out color sexed males or females.
All the female chicks are brown and all the male chicks are yellow. It is really hard to tell the sex of the chick otherwise. The research breed is maintained and used on campus still today.
Quote Summary - It has been very important over the last thirty or forty years. We’ve developed nutritional programs like the non-feed withdrawl molting program. The industry, after ten years of research at ILLINOIS, has adopted it as the standard method for molting laying hens. This happened starting January 1, 2006.
Today more than eighty-five percent of the commercial egg laying operations molt their hens using the University of Illinois developed method. The history of the specialized research breed along with the powerhouse production of poultry feed stocks in the state, corn and soybeans, continue to converge to make the Urbana Champaign campus one of the top five poultry research universities.