William A. Dudley-Cash, PhD
- Bachelor's Degree - Iowa State University
- Master's Degree - University of Illinois
PhD - University of Illinois
Area of Expertise:
Animal Science, Nutrition, Poultry Nutrition, Computer Feed Formulation, Consultant.
Where did you grow up and did you have poultry in your youth?
I grew up on a small diversified farm (80 acres) in East Central Iowa (20 miles north of Cedar Rapids). We milked 12 cows, twice a day, 365 days a year. We also produced about 200 market pigs a year. My mother kept a flock of about 100 fryers that were grown in the spring. They were produced for sale to local friends and neighbors who wanted fried chicken for Sunday dinner. At that time, a fried chicken dinner was considered “special”. My mother also kept a flock of about 400 breeder hens that produced hatching eggs for sale to a local hatchery. The chicken income was my mother’s money that she could spend on house expenses. We usually had two or three bantam hens and a rooster “free ranging” the farmyard. The baby chicks were sooo cute.
What was your first job out of school and what were your responsibilities?
In the spring of 1960 I received a PhD in Animal Science from the University of Illinois. The research for my Thesis was based on “The Phosphorus Requirement of the Weanling Pig”. Dr. D. E. Becker (an outstanding swine nutritionist) was my major professor. Jobs were scarce. 1960 was two years after the enactment of the Delaney Amendment that barred the use of anything in animal feed that appeared to or might cause cancer. University and industrial research on new feed additives (feed antibiotics were the hot area) was grinding to a halt while everyone concentrated on determining what effect the Delaney Amendment would have on feed additives. New graduates were taking almost any job they were offered. I had fewer than a half-dozen interviews. I was interviewed by Dr. R. S. Gordin (Flash Gordin) and Dr. Ken Maddy (Big Foot Maddy) for a research position at Monsanto Co. I was offered a job and I took it. Only later did I learn my responsibility would be conducting research with chickens. Dr. H. M. Scott (a giant of poultry research) was the head of the Poultry Division at the University of Illinois. I had spent many Saturdays at the poultry research farm helping with research projects. Dr. Scott must have given me a good recommendation. I really enjoyed research with chickens. Weighing a 2 pound chicken was a dream compared with wrestling a 100 pound pig.
My initial responsibilities at Monsanto were conducting poultry research with methionine hydroxy analogue (MHA) and ethoxyquin (Santoquin), Monsanto feed additives. I also participated in reporting the results of this research at Poultry Science meetings.
A year later, my life changed. Dr. Maddy believed that computer feed formulation was a new technology that Monsanto could use as a marketing tool. Ken recruited me to report to him and work on the development of the Monsanto least cost linear programming feed formulation program. I was given direct responsibility for developing the matrix values for feed ingredients and nutrient restrictions, and producing feed formulations that perhaps, might, be used commercially. I also conducted experiments to evaluate the formulations. Computer feed formulation was cutting-edge technology. We were not the first, but one of the first. I believe that Hobe Halloran (another giant of the poultry industry) was the first to produce and use computer generated feed formulas (about 1958). In 1961 most of the poultry industry, as well as most university professors were convinced that computer generated feed formulas would never work. There were just too many subtle decisions that could not be represented by 0’s and 1’s.
I became involved in the cutting-edge technology of computer feed formulation at the very apex of the development of the technology; a technology that would have an almost immeasurable impact on the economics and efficiency of poultry production (feed represents about 70% of production cost); a technology that would dominate my career for the next 40 years.
If you had a motto that applied to your daily professional career, what would it be?
If it is worth doing, it is worth doing right. I learned this through nonverbal observations of my father. Even if the project was trivial, like setting fence posts, each post must be vertical and set in a straight line.
If there is an issue ( problem), do something. Don’t procrastinate (Buffett calls it thumb sucking). Do something now. Even if it is wrong, we can fix it later. This was a working model of Foster Poultry Farms. I find it works well in everyday life.
What value does PSA membership offer you?
Poultry Science provides an ongoing and continuing connection to the people who are important to developing the new information, the science, of poultry and the poultry industry. Poultry Science provides the opportunity of reading about new developments and then meeting, one on one, with the people who are conducting the research, writing the papers, or implementing the science in production. Poultry Science provides the opportunity to interact with people who are smarter than I am. Poultry Science is also the opportunity to maintain and renew contacts with people who I like.
For years, the annual Poultry Science meeting was a highlight of the summer for our family. The first annual meeting I attended was held at the University of California at Davis in 1960. This meeting set a very high bar for annual meetings. I specifically remember the banquet was picnic tables in a vineyard. The middle of the tables was piled high with all manner of fresh fruit, cheeses, and bottles of wine. It blew me away.