Campus: Cal Poly, Pomona -- April 06, 2001

Cal Poly Poultry Program Takes Top Honors

For the second year in a row -- and the eighth time overall -- Cal Poly was recognized as the "No. 1 grower" for Foster Farms, the largest poultry company in the Western United States.

Cal Poly received this distinction because they were able to raise a flock of 7,000 chicks from hatchlings to full-grown chickens and raise them for 1.26 cents per pound less than the next best grower and 2.16 cents less than the average grower. The students received a 2.16 cents per pound performance bonus, the highest bonus in Cal Poly's history with Foster Farms.

In addition to being the No. 1 grower eight times in the last three-plus years, Cal Poly has also set a "COBB Score" record for the Fresno Processing Plant and achieved the highest COBB Score in Foster Farms history. The COBB Score evaluates poultry at the processing stage through a number of weighted factors. Each factor, such as feed conversion, or pounds of feed to pounds of body weight, is considered for the entire flock.

"These accomplishments are not easily attained," said Poultry Science Professor Robert J. Spiller. "While we have a very small facility in relation to other growers, we also have a disadvantage in that we start each brood of chickens with only three or four students who have never grown a chick in their life. The other growers are professionals and do this for a living."

According to Spiller, it's the learn-by-doing approach that makes the students so good at what they do and what makes the accomplishment so significant.

"It is my passion to see the students raise as good a flock of birds as conditions will allow," said Spiller. "This award proves that our efforts with the students are well invested. They get a first-class, hands-on educational experience, and we continue to validate Cal Poly's reputation for excellence."

Foster Farms Vice President for Grower Relations Bob Cornell said, "I'm proud to be an alum and proud for the company and for the industry to have talented young people at Cal Poly doing these amazing things. Our company founders, Paul, Max and Verda Foster, would have been absolutely delighted with their excellence."

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