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Husbandry of chickens works in tandem with science, says Virginia Tech poultry expert

June 27, 2016

Paul Siegel

Paul Siegel and his chickens
Paul Siegel

In the wake of Perdue’s announcement Monday that it is changing standards at its chicken facilities, Virginia Tech Professor Emeritus Paul Siegel said this a reflection of an industry trend to incorporate optimum care for the animals that will help both the birds and humans. 

“Science, including genetics, plays a large and valuable role in raising chickens, but you still have to pay attention to the basics of caring for the animals to maximize their potential,” said Siegel, an internationally recognized expert on poultry genetics in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “It’s like having the best car in the world – if you don’t take care of it, it’s going to break down.”

Siegel said that genetics and breeding are valuable but that doesn’t mean that they have to be maximized to the point where birds are too large or unhealthy. 

“Birds don’t have to grow so fast,” he said. “We can use the science we have developed to breed birds with measured growth,” he said. 

Siegel said all major companies now routinely have a Ph.D. or veterinarian on staff to solely focus on birds’ welfare. 

“This is a step in the right direction for everyone. It’s good for the birds, it’s good for people, and it’s good for humanity,” he said.

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