One researcher at West Virginia University recognizes the vital economic importance of the poultry industry, and his exploration of the topic has earned him high regards.

Joe Moritz, professor of poultry science and nutrition in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, was recently awarded the American Feed Industry Association Poultry Nutrition Research Award.

Presented annually by the Poultry Science Association, the $1,500 award recognizes distinctive work demonstrating sound research in poultry nutrition.

“Research is difficult. It’s difficult to receive funding, it’s difficult to attract and train students, it’s difficult to overcome facility hurdles, it’s difficult to overcome unexpected study hurdles and it’s difficult to write manuscripts that withstand the peer-review process,” Moritz said. “Publishing research represents the culmination of a scientist’s determination to overcome several obstacles to advance knowledge.”

After arriving at WVU in 2002, Moritz spearheaded multiple infrastructure projects to help boost poultry research opportunities and attract high-ability graduate students.

One such project included garnering funding to complete initial construction of a research feed mill at the Animal Science Farm in Morgantown.

Today, according to Moritz, the feed mill contributes to more peer-reviewed publications that focus on feed manufacture than any other university feed mill in the United States.

But Moritz feels receiving this Poultry Science Association award is the highlight of his career in science.

“Poultry represents the largest volume of animal protein consumed in the United States and second largest volume of animal protein consumed in the world, so this is a big deal,” he said.

With research techniques that are applied in nature and have the potential to produce results immediately in commercial practice, Moritz relies heavily on industry collaborations to help maintain relevance and provide feedback.

A significant collaboration between WVU and the Virginia Poultry Growers Cooperative – an organization that represents more than 100 turkey farms in the Shenandoah Valley that produce and market conventional, antibiotic-free, organic birds – examined how best to minimize the industry’s potentially negative environmental effects, especially with regard to water quality.

During the partnership’s tenure, Moritz and his colleagues explored a variety of topics including ways to effectively reduce phosphorous levels in feed to diminish the negative impact on groundwater in the region. They also worked to develop a feed pellet with higher structural integrity in an effort to save growers money.

“To be recognized for leading a high quality research program over the last twelve years is immensely gratifying because it demonstrates that fellow scientists appreciate my laboratory’s efforts and it confirms that we are contributing to helping feed hungry people,” Moritz said.

While he was the one recognized for his contributions, Moritz was quick to extend credit to others.

“The extraordinary collaborators and outstanding students that I work with are what make the research program remarkable,” he said.



CONTACT: Lindsay Willey, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design

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