William Henry Tom developed and taught the first meats course in 1912. One year later, he became the Head of the Department of Animal Husbandry and served in that capacity until 1925.
A native Pennsylvanian, Percival Thomas Ziegler, was hired in 1919 as an instructor in Poultry Husbandry. When a separate Department of Poultry Husbandry was formed in 1920, "P. T." remained in the Department of Animal Husbandry and assumed responsibility for the meats courses.
He developed and continued his meats instruction, research, and extension activities until he retired in 1957. During his tenure, he coached both the livestock and meats judging teams, including the 1929 international championship team at Chicago. He also authored The Meat We Eat , the well-known college textbook that first appeared in 1939.
Tomhave's first teaching laboratory was a small, basement room in the Main Agricultural Building. Slaughtering was only done in winter, as there was no refrigeration available other than that provided by the outside temperatures. Meat was sold to members of the faculty, and no slaughtering could take place until all of the meat was called for or delivered. Only senior animal husbandry students were allowed to take the course.
All meats operations moved to the basement of the new Livestock Judging Pavilion in 1915, after its completion. The new slaughter room was larger and had a windlass for hoisting and a holding track, although there still was no mechanical refrigeration. Slaughtered animals were wheeled on a cart to the basement of McAllister Hall, which did have refrigeration. All meat placed in McAllister Hall became the property of the dining commons at wholesale market prices. McAllister Hall had no power meat grinding equipment, and students ground 200 pounds of hamburger by hand twice a week. In 1920 students were offered "Animal Husbandry 21," Meat Cutting and Processing , for the first time.
The slaughter facilities in the Pavilion gradually improved. A small, nearby brick building served as a smokehouse. A second-hand vertical boiler was installed, to become both an incinerator and also to supply steam for two steam kettles. Before an incinerator was available, blood and offal by-products of slaughter were buried in a large trench, dug by students near the Old West Barn. One room was made into a walk-in refrigerator. By 1936, a larger refrigerator, a small freezer space, and trackage were in place. Money was made available during the Milton Eisenhower administration for a new meats laboratory.
The new Meats Laboratory was occupied in January 1960. It included the most modern slaughter and meat processing facilities of its time. The new laboratory was fully equipped to handle all teaching, research, and extension requirements in its two large classrooms with 75 and 204 seats respectively, approximately 1200 square feet of refrigerated space, two research laboratories, and a large, cooled cutting room, and retail outlet. The kill floor was fully equipped to simulate a commercial operation with holding pens and provisions for humane slaughtering under the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture meat inspection program. Students taking courses in the new laboratory were primarily those majoring in agriculture and the hospitality services and were transported to classes in college buses.
The USDA took over all meat inspection activities in Pennsylvania in 1972, and the Penn State facility has operated as Federal Establishment #9844 since that time. In 1994, a "P" was added to the number to permit the routine handling of poultry products, as they are included in the teaching and research of muscle foods.
During the early years of meats work at Penn State, the majority of citizens of the Commonwealth lived in rural areas. Most people were somewhat self-sufficient relative to their annual meat supply and raised several hogs each year. The family slaughtered, cut, processed, and cured the meat for home use. The meats work at Penn State was directed toward the development of curing and smoking procedures that could be used for pork processing at home. Curing mixtures and procedures were extensively studied, and other efforts involving products such as sausage and scrapple were incorporated into widely distributed pamphlets and publications.
In the early 1930s, the meats laboratory faculty cooperated with the departments of Foods and Nutrition and Agricultural Engineering on extensive investigations on all aspects of home freezing of fruits, vegetables, and meats. When the emphasis of sheep breeding changed from wool to meat production, meats faculty devised the recommended procedures for slaughtering, chilling, packing, and shipping carcasses to the "big city" markets.
Author: John H. Ziegler, Professor of Meat Science