William Davis Salmon was internationally known for his contributions to human and animal nutrition and played a key role in the development of the livestock industry in Alabama.
Born in Cork in Metcalfe County in 1895, he initiated pathology studies associated with nutritional deficiencies. Among his significant contributions was showing that vitamin B actually was a complex of vitamins.
He directed research resulting in the discovery that zinc deficiency is the primary cause of parakeratosis in swine, an ailment that caused heavy losses in hogs throughout the United States. He provided research evidence that aided in the passage of legislation in Alabama requiring the enrichment of white flour, white bread, corn meal grits and corn meal.
Salmon earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture at UK in 1920, a master’s degree at the University of Missouri, and went to Auburn as assistant animal husbandman after a year on the South Carolina Experiment Station staff. His first international recognition for research was in 1946, when he and D.H. Copeland published in the American Journal of Pathology the first paper on cancer in rats as a result of a prolonged choline-deficient diet.
He was named research professor of animal nutrition at Auburn in 1927 and animal nutritionist in 1935. He became head of the Department of Animal Husbandry and Nutrition in 1950, where he enlarged the department's staff and began an expanded research program on breeding, feeding and management of cattle, hogs and sheep. He emphasized performance testing and improvement of beef quality, development of better meat-type hogs and production of early lambs and ewes adapted to Alabama conditions.
In 1957, he asked to be relieved of his departmental duties in an effort to devote time to basic research in nutrition. He retired from the staff of the Auburn University Experiment Station July 1, 1965.
The Alabama Cattlemen's Association honored Salmon in 1956 for his distinguished service to the cattle industry. Two years later, UK awarded him an honorary degree. Progressive Farmer magazine named him Man of the Year in Service to Alabama Agriculture in 1960. He was named to the UK Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 1965.
Salmon was author or co-author of more than 75 experiment station bulletins and articles in technical journals. He was a member of numerous professional and honorary societies, and was a member of the Auburn Kiwanis Club and the Auburn Methodist Church, which he served as a steward and trustee. He was a charter member and Fellow of the Institute of Nutrition; a lifetime Fellow of the American Society of Animal Production; member of the board of the Auburn Research Foundation. As a UK student, he was a member of Alpha Zeta, the livestock judging team and the Agricultural Society.
Mr. Salmon died in 1966.