New poultry specialist joins MSU Extension

A poultry specialist with industry and Extension Service experience recently joined the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Thomas Tabler began work as an Extension professor Aug. 1 in MSU’s Department of Poultry Science after teaching a year in Shungnak, Alaska, 20 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

“I’d always wanted to see Alaska while it is still wild, and I might have stayed except coming to MSU was too good an opportunity to pass up,” Tabler said. “Dr. Mary Beck, our department head, is building a talented team of poultry scientists to strengthen the program and I’m excited to be part of the process.”

As an Extension specialist, Tabler will deliver education and outreach programs for the integrators and growers in the state’s largest agricultural industry, which had a production value of $2.44 billion in 2011.

He also will conduct research to find the most cost-effective poultry equipment, including feeders, lighting, fans and drinkers.

“The industry is moving away from incandescent lighting, and there are many options for growers to choose from, such as LED and cold cathode,” he said. “We want to find the best equipment to grow the best chickens for the best profit for Mississippi’s growers and integrators.”

Tabler said he is also looking forward to developing Extension’s offerings for the state’s growing number of hobbyists and specialized poultry growers.

“I anticipate working with people who raise backyard chickens and those who raise specialty poultry, such as pasture-raised chickens, quail, peacocks and turkeys,” he said.

Tabler served as a poultry specialist for the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service at the University of Arkansas from 1990 to 2011. Prior to his work there, he managed a diversified cattle, swine and poultry operation in DeQueen, Ark., that included four broiler houses producing five flocks per year.

Tabler received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Arkansas in poultry science, general agriculture and animal science, respectively. He can be reached at

Keri Collins Lewis | MSU Ag Communications

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