A team of students from Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences finished second overall at the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association National Poultry Judging Contest, held last month at Louisiana State University.
Penn State's team, which brought home a school-record nine trophies, consisted of Jacob Haagen of Howard, an animal sciences major with a poultry and avian science minor; Andrew Pullen of Harleysville, an animal sciences major with a poultry and avian science minor; Russell Phenicie of Mercersburg, an agricultural science major with a poultry and avian science minor; and Krista Moser of Philadelphia, an agricultural and extension education major.
Teams from 10 colleges and universities competed in three divisions: production judging, breed selection and market products judging. Competitors must demonstrate their ability to select the breeders that will produce the most eggs and the offspring that will produce the meatiest carcass most efficiently.
Contestants also are judged on how well they have mastered U.S. Department of Agriculture rules and regulations governing the grading of eggs and poultry carcasses.
The students prepared for the competition through a rigorous training program and by enrolling in a 14-week poultry science course.
"The students must show they understand how to select production animals that will result in products consumers want," said Phillip Clauer, senior instructor in poultry science who co-coached the team with Dirk Wise, manager of Penn State's Poultry Education and Research Center. "These concepts are not just for this contest; they will help the students when they enter the industry after graduation."
Texas A&M University was first overall, followed by Penn State, University of Arkansas, Louisiana State University and North Carolina State University.
In addition to taking second place overall, the Penn State team finished first in the production division, third in breed selection and third in market products.
Haagen placed second overall in the individual competition and was high individual in the production division. He also finished fifth in breed selection and tied for fifth in market products.
Pullen finished as the sixth highest individual overall, tied for second in production and placed ninth in breed selection. Phenicie placed 11th overall and fourth in market products. Moser finished as the 25th highest individual overall.
"This was the most difficult contest I can remember," said Clauer. "Finishing second as a team and placing at least one individual in the top five in every division and overall is an indication of the quality of our students and establishes Penn State's poultry and avian science program as one of the top programs of its kind in the country."