IPSF 2022: How to recruit students into the poultry science department

About 200,000 people are involved in the US poultry industry, however six US universities are only graduating about 100 students with Poultry Science degrees each year. Thus, there's a significant gap between the number of people needed and the number of people available to fill open positions in the industry.
calendar icon 25 January 2022
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Peyton Taylor, a graduate student at Mississippi State University, shared recent research regarding how to recruit more Poultry Science graduates by recruiting from within universities on Monday at the 2022 International Poultry Scientific Forum held in conjunction with IPPE in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Recruitment in Poultry Science departments is necessary to aid in meeting industry demand for qualified employees. Research from Mississippi State University's lab utilized data mining techniques to assess lowest retention rates in departments within colleges of agriculture at the six universities with poultry science departments. Data identified Animal Science and Biochemistry to have the lowest retention rates, suggesting a potential target for internal recruitment practices.

The objective of the study was to determine if non-Poultry Science majors from these universities would be receptive to completing poultry coursework.

Undergraduates from these previously determined departments were surveyed (n=582) to assess if students would take an introductory poultry course, what factors influenced their current major choice, and if they would be interested in majoring in Poultry Science. Additionally, faculty members within the same departments were also surveyed (n= 110) to assess if they would be willing to advise students who are changing their major to consider poultry, and would they allow poultry guest lecturers in their class to expose students.

Data collected in the student survey showed a total of 132 students changed their major, with over half of those students changing majors coming from Animal Science and Biochemistry (n= 27 and 46, respectively). Thus, solidifying previous data that Animal Science and Biochemistry had the largest population of students change majors.

80% of Animal Science and Biochemistry students indicated an interest in taking a poultry course if it counted towards their curriculum. 31% of students indicated consideration to major in Poultry Science, after being informed through the survey of opportunities within poultry science. However, 77% of faculty answered “no” to allowing a poultry course into their curriculum as a social science for students, a stark contrast to the student survey and what students would like.

This data suggests there is a disconnect between students and faculty in reference to Poultry Science curriculum. For future research, data needs to focus on how to aid students in obtaining information about poultry science as well as changing perceptions of faculty in other departments in relation to the need for poultry curriculum.

Sarah Mikesell


Sarah Mikesell grew up on a five-generation family farming operation in Ohio, USA, where her family still farms. She feels extraordinarily lucky to get to do what she loves - write about livestock and crop agriculture. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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