Harald Ebbel, born on October 1, 1909, has spent most of his 77 years working with and for poultry.
In Europe he was considered, 15 years ago, the leading expert in the poultry industry of Central Europe. In this area he has the most outstanding experience, far sighted and profound scientific knowledge.
In 1929/30 he began as a poultry apprentice in Germany at the poultry farm of the Baroness Lutzau near Munich. He was particularly involved with the Hatchery. The incubators were heated with coal at that time and no automation existed so the eggs had to be turned by hand, also at night. He continued his apprenticeship in Chardonne on Lake Geneva and returned to Germany to the famous Poultry Research Station in Halle-Cröllwitz under Professor Römer, its director in 1931. Returning to Switzerland he worked as manager of the poultry farm for his uncle in Aarau.
In 1934 he became the manager of the Poultry Farm for the Ovomaltine company near Bern. Besides producing eggs for the company he enlarged the farm and used it with the full agreement of the Company, as an experimental station especially in the study of laying hen management. He introduced the first laying cage battery and tested many different lighting programmes. He also tested housing systems, including free range, for breeding birds and the night/day-shift system in which the litter area of one house was used alternately by two different flocks. He also conducted the first experiments with antibiotics and other growth promoters in Switzerland.
Besides his work as farm manager, he liked to write and was active as a poultry journalist. He was the editor of the Swiss Poultry Journal "Geflügel und Kleinvieh" (Poultry and Small Animals) for many years. He also wrote a comprehensive book, published 1959, on cage keeping of pullets and laying hens which was the only one in the German language in that field. A second edition was published in 1967. He was a member of the editorial Board of the Archiv für Geflügelkunde for many years, starting in 1953.
In 1979 he celebrated his 70th birthday and published the booklet "50 years of Poultry Keeping" an overview on 50 years of his life involved with poultry production.
As a hobby he was a breeder of bantams and dwarf breeds and he was specialized in judging of the fancy breeds.
He became a member of WPSA early in his life in 1934 and attended his first World's Poultry Science Congress in Leipzig, Germany in 1936. He was elected as Council member of the WPSA in 1948.
In 1951, together with Dr Hans Engler, he founded the Swiss Branch of WPSA. Since that time and until April 23, 1986 - 35 years - he acted as its indefatigable Secretary. He also was very active - together with Dr Engler working with the FAO in Rome, with Professor Ubbels, director of the Federal Poultry Research Centre in Beekbergen, The Netherlands, and with the former WPSA secretary, major Macdougall - in founding the European Federation of Branches of WPSA in 1960. He was elected its president for 2 four-years periods, in 1964 at the European Conference in Bologna and in 1968 at the Conference in Jerusalem.
In 1958, at the Congress in MExico City, he was elected Vice-President of the WPSA for a 4 years period and again at the Congress in New Orleans in 1974. At the next Congress in Rio de Janeiro in 1978 he was reelected for a third term and held this post until 1984 when the XVII World's Poultry Congress was held in Helsinki. There he was nominated an Honorary Life member of the WPSA.
He has been much involved with animal welfare problems and the discussion about cage keeping of laying hens. He was especially interested in the initiation in 1972 of Working Group No. IX, "Bird Welfare in Intensive Poultry Production", within the European Federation of Branches of WPSA and he is still a member of this Working Group providing it with many interesting and enthusiastic suggestions.
In Switzerland he was President of the Swiss Poultry Breeders association from 1956-1964 and worked as a member in many other official and private committees. A special interest was the organization of poultry study tours to France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany. Many Swiss and German members of the WPSA remember these interesting and outstanding tours under his direction at which the participants became acquainted not only with special poultry production units but also with the histories and cultures of these countries.
He has attended all the Poultry Congresses and Conferences since 1936, except those in Sydney and Kiev, and he would have come to the VIIth European Poultry Conference in Paris had it not been for a severe deterioration in his eyesight.
World's Poultry Science Journal (1986) 42(3): 288