Penn State Poultry Judging Team Repeats as First in the Nation

Posted: November 14, 2016

For the second year in a row, Penn State's poultry judging team topped the national poultry judging contest, with ten universities participating.
National First Place Poultry Judging Team.  Seated, from left: Blake Ramsey, Logan Karchner and Matt Hackenberg; Standing, from left: Alyssa Kaupus and Phillip Clauer, coach.

National First Place Poultry Judging Team. Seated, from left: Blake Ramsey, Logan Karchner and Matt Hackenberg; Standing, from left: Alyssa Kaupus and Phillip Clauer, coach.

 Penn State's Poultry Judging Team placed first in the nation at the 51st National Collegiate Poultry Judging Contest held November 7-8 at the Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, making it two years in a row Penn State students have topped the competition.

Penn State's team has been second six times, third two times and fourth once since 2005. The team scored an impressive 4,084 points out of 4,500.

Team members included Matthew Hackenberg, Orangeville, PA; Alyssa Kaupus, Lansdowne, PA; Logan Karchner, Nescopeck, PA; and Blake Ramsey, Mifflintown, PA. The team was coached by Phillip Clauer, senior instructor in poultry science. All of the team members are senior animal science majors with minors in poultry and avian science, except Ramsey who is a senior majoring in labor relations.

The team placed first in the Egg Production and Quality Division and second in Breed Selection and Carcass Quality Division. 

Strong individual finishes by team members contributed significantly to their overall win. Karchner was second high individual overall; Hackenberg was fifth overall; Kaupus, eighth overall; and Ramsey, fifthteenth overall.

Dr. Terry Etherton, Head of the Department of Animal Science, said, "To capture first place in this national contest two years in a row is an incredible achievement, and I offer my congratulations to the team members and to the faculty who prepared them so well. We are very proud of this honor, which is well-deserved and reflective of the hard work and dedication of the team."

Clauer said, "Our students set out to defend the title and worked extremely hard this semester in preparation. I am so proud of them for accomplishing this difficult feat. This challenging contest assesses the total knowledge students have acquired. Preparation for the contest provides a strong background for their future careers in the poultry industry."

Other individual rankings included:

  • Egg Production and Quality Division: Hackenberg, third; Karchner and Kaupus, fifth.
  • Breed Selection and Carcass Quality Division: Karchner, third; Hackenberg, seventh; Kaupus, eleventh; and Ramsey, twelfth.

Ten universities participated in the contest, with Louisiana State University placing second; Texas A&M University, third; University of Arkansas, fourth; and The Ohio State University, fifth. Other teams were the University of Wisconsin River Falls, Kansas State University, North Carolina State University, Mississippi State University and Hopkinsville Community College.

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.

Anyone interested in the study of poultry or judging may contact Phillip Clauer at  for more information on the poultry program at Penn State. There are abundant employment opportunities for students with the Poultry and Avian Science minor and a multitude of opportunities available to students in the Department of Animal Science through student clubs and teams.

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