Poultry science explores the use of birds, like turkeys and chickens, for food and medicinal purposes. Learn about related degree programs, topics of study, possible career options and employment outlook for the field.
Poultry sciences involves the study of chickens, ducks and turkeys, primarily for the purpose of raising healthy poultry for meat, eggs and other products for human use. Much more than just food production, the study of poultry has led to the development of various human vaccines and vitamins.
As a future poultry science professional, you might study poultry breeding and production, commercial egg production, nutrition and livestock management. Programs typically include hands-on animal studies and lab-based research; internships or cooperative educational experiences may be required. A poultry science curriculum can also include topics in avian health and nutrition, incubation and hatchery management and avian physiology.
A degree in poultry sciences can prepare you for a variety of careers, including jobs in agricultural product management, poultry farming, teaching and research. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of animal scientists and postsecondary teachers is expected to increase by 9% and 19%, respectively, between 2012 and 2022.
As of May 2013, animal scientists earned a median annual salary of $64,260. As a postsecondary agricultural sciences teacher, you might expect to earn a median salary of about $83,060 per year (www.bls.gov).
Several colleges and universities offer degree programs in poultry sciences, sometimes as part of a broader animal sciences program. A bachelor's degree is commonly required for many animal science positions, but you can also find associate, master's and doctoral programs in poultry sciences, animal sciences and related fields of study. Such programs are often offered through a school's agricultural college or department.
A bachelor's degree in poultry sciences could prepare you for a variety of entry-level careers in poultry farming and agricultural product marketing; for example, you might become a flock health supervisor, feed mill manager or processing plant supervisor. When combined with the appropriate state license, a bachelor's degree in this field could also qualify you for a position as a high school agriculture teacher. An animal and poultry sciences bachelor's degree program can also prepare you for vet school, and some programs even offer a pre-vet option designed specifically for this career path.
A graduate degree in animal sciences, poultry or a related field might lead to a poultry science career in genetics, physiology, nutrition or quality control. University research and teaching position usually require a master's or doctoral degree in a relevant field of study.