Beyond Poultry Keeping: Learn More In A University Poultry Science Program  

Delve into your love of poultry with an education in poultry science! We look at some program options and what's involved in pursuing further education.

by Ana Hotaling
PHOTO: Sergey/AdobeStock

Have you kept poultry for most of your life? Or maybe you only recently discovered the joys of owning your own flock. Regardless, you know it doesn’t take long for people to develop a special connection with chickens.

You truly enjoy being in their midst and watching their antics. You also do all you can to make their lives comfortable and carefree.

Tending to your birds fills you with a content peace. You feel it all the way in your soul. In fact, there are times when you wonder, is anything else you can do to help improve poultry keeping, for yourself and for others?  

The answer to that question is a resounding yes! There are certifications you can earn that will expand your personal understanding of poultry. The education will also allow you to share your experience and skills with other chicken keepers, helping them improve their flocks.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will discuss different poultry-certification programs available in the United States. It’s my hope that this series will inspire and offer direction to any individuals yearning to more fully immerse themselves in poultry science. 

Read more: Check out these 7 cool science facts about chicken eggs!

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Poultry Science Degrees 

Across America, many universities offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in poultry science. These are usually specialized fields of study within the pre-veterinary and veterinary-science programs. Those who pursue a specialized poultry-science degree often go on to become avian or poultry veterinarians, university extension-office specialists or poultry-industry advisors.

Achieving this goal can take anywhere from two to nine years. (It can, however, take longer, depending on how many courses you take each semester.) If you decide your interests involve earning a degree in poultry science, the first thing to do is to look up your closest land-grant institution.

Land-grant universities and colleges are located in every U.S. state (and in some U.S. territories). They focus on agriculture and mechanical arts. Check your local college or university’s degree offerings on their web site. Then email or call the department offering your desired degree to find out about enrollment requirements, tuition rates and other questions you may have.

Arrange for a visit. This will give you the opportunity to tour the facilities and meet some of the professors. You’ll also familiarize yourself with what may be your second home for the next few years. 

Read more: Can egg shape predict a chick’s sex?

On-Campus Poultry-Science Certifications 

Some universities even offer certification programs geared towards current and aspiring poultry-industry professionals. This includes:

  • veterinarians
  • feed manufacturers
  • poultry production farm employees
  • small-flock, hobby and microflock farmers

These certification programs provide students with both classroom coursework and hands-on learning opportunities. They also allow them to work with professors, researchers and other industry professionals.

For instance, students earning the Poultry Science Business Certificate offered by the University of North Georgia at Gainesville must complete a poultry-science internship in order to complete the program. Some universities offer students the opportunity to transfer into degree-earning programs or other certification programs upon completing their poultry-science certification.

Michigan State University, for example, encourages students earning their Livestocks Industry Certificate to transfer into their undergraduate program. Those earning a Poultry Management Certificate from Willmar, Minnesota’s Ridgewater College, however, can transfer to the University of Minnesota to earn a graduate poultry health certificate.

Want to further your poultry education but aren’t quite sure about enrolling in an undergraduate or graduate program? An on-campus poultry-science certification may be the perfect option. Contact your local land-grant university to see if they offer certification programs for local industry professionals.

If not, ask if they can refer you to a nearby program.

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