STORRS — The University of Connecticut is receiving a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop poultry without the use of antibiotics.

An announcement was made Monday by Gov. Ned Lamont and others.

The grant is said to have significant implications for human, animal, and environmental health in Connecticut and the United States.

An interdisciplinary team will work to develop an integrated and economically and environmentally sustainable program for producing broiler chickens without the use of antibiotics as growth promoters.

UConn and Kumar Venkitanarayanan, associate dean of the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, are the leaders on the grant, which features partnerships of 30 researchers from nearly a dozen institutions and will also involve two other countries.

One aspect of the project is to educate broiler producers in Mexico and India, two other major consumers of chicken. The researchers will develop training programs to be implemented in both countries.

“It is a real collective effort,” Venkitanarayanan said.

The project is scheduled to start this September.

The grant also helps UConn toward its ongoing effort to double its research awards over the next decade. UConn President Tom Katsouleas said despite the COVID-19 pandemic, UConn’s research dollars have reached an all-time high of $280 million in the past year

“This is not your father’s agricultural school,” Katsouleas said at the announcement held on UConn’s bucolic Horsebarn Hill. “This is a high-tech research center that carries UConn into the next century.”

Lamont called UConn one of the leaders in agricultural research.

UConn began as an agricultural school more than a 150 years ago and has had a poultry farm on its Storrs campus since the 1940’s where the main focus is on raising breeder and egg-laying poultry. In 2005, a Poultry Resource Unit was added to provide insight into the evolution of poultry management through the various penning, feed and water systems.

The United States produces the most broiler chickens world-wide, topping nine billion birds annually. To keep up with the demand, the industry relies on antibiotics to prevent disease. That can lead to antibiotic resistance. It also negatively impacts the environment.

Venkitanarayanan hopes to improve bird and human health by addressing environmental concerns. To meet these goals, Venkitanarayanan assembled an interdisciplinary team of 30 researchers from other institutions.

Partners include Iowa State, University of Maryland, University of Minnesota, Applachian State, North Carolina A&T State University, Penn State, University of Georgia, University of Arkansas, University of Mississippi, Prairie View A&M University and the USDA Agricultural Service of Maryland.; twitter/lclambeck