Thanks for stopping by Veterinary Diagnostic Pathology. I want to thank my son John Hoerr for helping me create this site, and Marty my wife who has provided great encouragement and technical support since the start of our histopathology service.
The photo above shows my early experience with poultry production on our small farm where I was raised in Milford, Indiana. Milford is a small farming town but home to Maple Leaf Ducks and of Chore Time Equipment, but that’s getting ahead of the story. This small flock of free-range chickens shows fairly typical management practices for 1957. Many farmers kept a few chickens for eggs and meat, and the “egg money” supplemented the family’s cash flow. My first processing experience came when the rooster in this flock attacked my brother Doug, shown in the foreground. The rooster met swift justice at the knife-yielding hands of Aunt Emma and we ate chicken and noodles that evening. Unlike many people today, I learned early in life where my food came from.
Last week I asked a class of 125 veterinary students (one-third from Alabama, one-third from Kentucky, the others various states) if any had grown up on a poultry farm. Not one hand was raised. Alabama produces 21 million broilers every week, but not one poultry family was represented in this class of future veterinarians. Furthermore, my experience during these recession years is that helping young veterinarians to find poultry-related jobs is increasingly difficult. My concern is that the FAO/United Nations has called for a 70% increase in global food production in 2050 to meet the projected needs of population growth and the expanding middle class. This will occur during the veterinary careers of this class of students, who essentially mirror our greater society today with regard to scanty first-hand knowledge about agriculture.
Despite many public misconceptions about the food we eat, poultry production is a model of efficiency and good stewardship. Currently 43% of the world’s population subsists on the equivalent of US$2.00 per capita per day. As people earn more, they consume more poultry and eggs. We will need the best minds and innovation to make poultry production sustainable in the coming decades. The small free-range flock of my childhood may be part of that solution, which is why I support the Heifer International Poultry Flock program https://secure1.heifer.org/gift-catalog/chicks.html?msource=magento&utm_source=Blog&utm_medium=Post&utm_content=BL_Holiday_Catalog_Chicks&utm_campaign=Holiday_2012&vfull=1.
The smaller production flocks will also need the best of disease prevention and health care; at least, better than we provided in the 1950’s. The trend however is for the world to grow increasingly reliant on large flock commercial production. That places new demands on technology and sustainability. Clearly, we’ve got to work smarter to feed the world in a sustainable manner. That will likely involve responsible use of even more technology and every resource available.
We here at Veterinary Diagnostic Pathology understand poultry production and offer pathology-based services to help you achieve the healthiest flocks and the most cost-efficient use of resources. Please contact us if we can be of assistance to you.
For the Good of the Order,