29 August 1934 - 4 February 2021
On February 4, 2021, Prof. Dr. Johannes Petersen passed away at the age of 86. For decades he had a decisive influence on German poultry science. Johannes Petersen was born on August 29, 1934, in Hörpel, Soltau County, and grew up on a farm in Lower Saxony. After practical training in agriculture and attending the Albrecht-Thaer-Seminar in Celle, he became a ‘state-certified farmer’ in 1958. He then studied agricultural science with the focus on animal production at the Technical University of Berlin, graduating in 1963. At the Berlin Institute for Animal Production, he received his doctorate in 1969 with a topic on egg shell stability measurement. Here he took up an assistant professorship for small animal breeding and special biometry and habilitated in 1977 for the teaching field of small animal breeding. Shortly thereafter, he moved to the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in Bonn, where he was appointed Professor of Small Animal Breeding and Husbandry at the Faculty of Agriculture. He represented this department until his retirement.
In his research, Johannes Petersen distinguished himself by critical expertise and high scientific standards, both in experimental performance and biometric evaluation. In small animal research, Johannes Petersen covered almost all animal species and worked on areas of genetics, product quality, husbandry, ethology, animal welfare, environment and business management. A major focus was on studies in laying hens. In addition to the long-standing research foci ‘Emission reduction in laying hen husbandry’ and ‘Egg quality’, he investigated the interactions between lighting programs and feeding, in particular, the results of which have also found their way into practice. Even after his retirement, Johannes Petersen continued his scientific activities as author and consultant as well as in professional associations.
Against the background of his extensive practical training, Johannes Petersen was able to convincingly convey the liaison function between science and practice. Thus, he was co-editor of the journal ‘Archiv für Geflügelkunde’ (European Poultry Science) for many years and organized the handover of the editorship from Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Siegfried Scholtyssek to Prof. Dr. Martina Gerken and to private lecturer Dr. Michael Grashorn in 1998. He also acted as editor of the ‘Jahrbuch für die Geflügelwirtschaft’ for many years.
He was a long-time member of the German Branch of the World's Poultry Science Association (Deutsche Vereinigung für Geflügelwissenschaft e.V.) and brought his expertise and mediating skills to the board. He served as President of the German Group from 1996 to 2002. During this time, he contributed significantly to organizing the European Poultry Conference (EPC) in Bremen in 2002, which was very successful and contributed significantly to the reputation of the German Group in the world organization. Together with Prof. Dr. Martina Gerken, he was also the editor of the chronicle on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the German Association for Poultry Science e.V. in 2003. The chronicle reflects in the best way the whole spectrum of scientific research of the association members in poultry science.
In addition to his professional commitment, Johannes Petersen, as a committed Christian, took on a variety of tasks, especially in the Evangelical Lutheran Church, which he deepened after his retirement. His special interest was the Lutheran Theological College Oberursel.
In addition to his distinctive professional abilities, Johannes Petersen was highly respected for his humane manner, always respectful of others, and his personal integrity. He achieved his goal of reconciling scientific work and supportive assistance in an outstanding manner. With his attitude toward scientific diligence, his commitment and his great personality, he remains a lasting role model. The German Branch of the World’s Poultry Science Association will always keep him in grateful and honorable memory.
Lüneburg, February 2021
Dr. Michael Grashorn, Prof. Dr. Martina Gerken and Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Südekum based on the laudation by Prof. Dr. Franz Ellendorff on the occasion of the 65th birthday of the deceased.