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Penn State Poultry Judging Team First in the Nation

Posted: November 9, 2015

The team scored impressively, besting eight other universities; placed first in Breed Selection & Carcass Quality, and Egg Production & Quality.
National First Place Poultry Judging Team.  Seated, from left: Nathan Graybeal, Benjamin Luksic and Camille Lewandowski; Standing, from left: Josh Cassar and Phillip Clauer.

National First Place Poultry Judging Team. Seated, from left: Nathan Graybeal, Benjamin Luksic and Camille Lewandowski; Standing, from left: Josh Cassar and Phillip Clauer.

Penn State's Poultry Judging Team placed first in the nation at the 50th National Collegiate Poultry Judging Contest held November 1-3 at the Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR. It is the first time since 2005 that the team has placed first, though it has been second six times, third two times and fourth once. The team scored an impressive 4,258 points out of 4,500.

Josh Cassar, Lansdale, PA, led the team as first place overall individual, having also won high individual at the spring national contest earlier this year. Cassar placed first in Egg Production and Quality and second in Breed Selection and Carcass Quality.

Strong individual finishes helped lead the team to its top ranking. Benjamin Luksic, Athens, PA, placed fifth; Nathan Graybeal, Annville, PA, placed seventh; and Camille Lewandowski, Amissville, VA, placed twelfth. The team was trained and coached by Phillip Clauer, senior instructor in poultry science. The team placed first in Breed Selection & Carcass Quality and Egg Production & Quality.

Dr. Terry Etherton, Head of the Department of Animal Science, said, "I offer sincere congratulations to this team for being first in the nation. This is a wonderful achievement on the national level, and we are very proud of the team. This honor reflects the student's hard work and the terrific preparation they have received from faculty."

Clauer said, "The contest tests the total knowledge students have acquired, and is designed to prepare them for a professional career in the poultry industry. I am gratified that their commitment and dedication to excellence has been rewarded with this top honor. Their high score was exceptional in this very challenging contest."

Nine universities participated in the contest. Texas A&M University was second, Louisiana State University was third; University of Arkansas, fourth; and Ohio State University, fifth. Other teams were the University of Wisconsin River Falls, Kansas State University, North Carolina State University and Mississippi State University.

Other individual rankings for team members include:

  • Luksic, 4th place Egg Production and Quality and 9th place Breed Selection and Carcass Quality
  • Graybeal,  9th place Egg Production and Quality and 12th place Breed Selection and Carcass Quality
  • Camille Lewandowski, Amissville, VA, 4th place Breed Selection and Carcass Quality

Students are selected for the team by enrolling in a 13-week poultry science course and competing for a spot during the spring semester. The team then completes a rigorous nine week training program to prepare for the fall contest.

The Egg Production division includes seven classes: ranking two classes of five production hens for past production traits, two classes of five Pullets for future production traits and grading three 25 egg classes of exterior quality, interior candled and broken-out.

In the Breed Selection division, there are eight classes: ranking a male and female class of eight-week-old broiler breeders, a male and female class of 24-week-old broiler breeders, a male and female class of turkey breeders and grading two classes of 25 ready-to-cook carcasses for USDA grade standards.

In these classes, contestants 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. Students 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.

If you are interested in the study of poultry or judging and would like more information on our program at Penn State please contact Phillip Clauer at .  There are abundant employment opportunities for students with the Poultry and Avian Science minor.   Also, this is just one example of a multitude of opportunities available to students in the Department of Animal Science at Penn State. A large array of clubs and teams in our Department involve most domestic species. For more information on this club visit the Poultry Judging Team website

The Poultry Judging Team received partial funding from the Office for Undergraduate Education "Student Activities fund" to enable participation in this event.