2013 Chicken Media Summit Blog Posts

Raising Chickens, A Family Business

13cms-39-editedBrooks Edmundson is a row crop farmer from North Eastern North Carolina and to help supplement his family farming operation he started raising broilers for Sanderson Farms. Brooks is setting the farm up in hopes that one day his boys will come back to the family farm to raise their own families.

His farm was one stop on the tour during the Chicken Media Summit held in the New Bern, NC area. Bio security is an extremely important aspect in keeping the birds healthy and our food supply safe. Before stepping into the barns we all suited up from head to toe. Wild birds and people are the largest cause of diseases in flocks. I chatted with Brooks after we got an up close and personal view of the life of a chicken farmer and he shared some more incite into his daily responsibilities caring for the birds and how he utilizes the use of technology to meet his goal of having a consistant 6 1/2 pound bird.

“We get these birds at several hours old and they are very cute and fuzzy. We keep them for 49 days. It’s a constant process of checking on, but everything is automated. It’s a great process for us. We’ve enjoyed it.”

“The system we use is hooked to the internet. I can sit hear and observe my whole farm from either my cell phone or when I’m on my tractor or combine I have my Ipad. I know everything that’s going on at all times.”

Listen to my interview with Brooks here: Interview with Brooks Edmundson

Check out photos from the event here: 2013 Chicken Media Summit Photo Album

How Modernization Protects Flocks

13cms-90 Society today wouldn’t be where it is if it wasn’t for modern medicine. The same thing applies for poultry production. The modernization of the poultry industry keeps the birds safe and ensures a safe food supply.

I talked with Dr. John Glisson, Director of Research Programs for US Poultry & Egg Association after he served on one of the panels discussing chicken issues in the news during the recent Chicken Media Summit. As a veterinarian, he discussed issues poultry companies face each day to ensure a nutritious, wholesome and safe product. Bio security and the use of antibiotics were a few of the hot topics brought up.

“Something that’s currently in the news right now is Avian Influenza in China and it’s potential to infect people. We use bio security to keep that virus out of our system. Most of the time that virus is spread by wild birds or by people. We don’t allow any wild birds or people onto the farms. So, here in the United States we have managed to radicate that type of virus from the whole system. We also have a program constantly monitoring every single broiler flock that goes to market in the United States and testing it to make sure it is free from Avian Influenza. So, not only have we removed the virus, we have a very intensive early warning system if it ever comes in.”

“The perspective is that we are raising 8 billion chickens a year in the United States. Some of them get sick. We try everything possible not to allow them to get sick and we have incredible disease prevention programs. Because the last thing we ever want to happen is for a flock to get sick. But occasionally it happens. What are we going to do then? Let me die? No, we can’t. We have to treat them, but when we use the antibiotics we use it very responsibly. Each antibiotic has a FDA required withdrawal period. It may say on there “can’t be used in birds within 10 days of slaughter.” And what that has established to do is make sure if we use antibiotics on birds and withdrawal the antibiotic the correct length of time, there will be none in the meat. And so, we use them sparingly and very safely.”

Listen to my interview with John here: Interview with John Glisson

Check out photos from the event here: 2013 Chicken Media Summit Photo Album

Chicken Issues in the News

13cms-86-editedThe US Poultry & Egg Association served as another sponsor of the Chicken Media Summit, held in north eastern North Carolina last week. Members of the media were welcomed with warm, sunny skies as members of the poultry industry took us under their wings to share a little of their passion for the chicken community.

After a wonderful meal at Persimmons Waterfront Restaurant in New Bern, NC, I sat down with John Starkey. John is president for USPOULTRY and served as moderator for the second panel on Issues in the News. During that panel experts discussed poultry welfare, modernization of plants, labeling and the role vets play in modern poultry production. I asked John to address some of these issues.

“I think that is probably one of the reasons transparency has become important to us. We’ve let the animal rights activists define us in a way that isn’t very favorable. The truth is a lot different and we want to be able to show that. I guess that’s reactionary, but on the other hand it’s trying to get out ahead of it, so the next time you or another member of the media hears a report or story you have something to balance that perspective with.”

“Well really what we are doing is trying to catch up with the rest of the world. We are out there in the marketplace trying to compete with Europe and Brazil. They run their operations at a much higher line speed than we do. If we are going to compete, if we are going to continue to export and contribute to a positive trade balance in ag, which is one of the few sectors that has a positive trade balance, then we need to be competitive. These higher speed systems have been demonstrated safe by both consumer and employee in Europe and in Latin American countries. We don’t see a reason why we can’t move forward with them. Understanding we have responsibility to food and employee safety, but again the data clearly shows those can be maintained at these higher speeds.”

Listen to my interview with John here: Interview with John Starkey

Check out photos from the event here: 2013 Chicken Media Summit Photo Album

What Consumers Want

13cms-60The National Chicken Council was one of the sponsors for the recent Chicken Media Summit held in New Bern, North Carolina. The event opened the doors for media to tour the complete life of a broiler and ask questions from experts from the poultry community.

I sat down with Senior Vice President of the National Chicken Council, Bill Roenigk, after he moderated a panel with chicken company executives. He shared why this event was so important to not only chicken, but to the food industry as a whole.

“We think this event is important because we are hearing from consumers and people who follow the industry that you need to be more open and more transparent. You need to show people where their food comes from. It’s a criticism, but not a criticism just in chicken. It’s the entire food industry. We need to understand better where are food is and what is in our food. So, it finally registered with us that we need to find an opportunity to be more transparent, more open. And Sanderson Farms was very gracious and agreed to do that. They have a wonderful facility and I not only enjoyed seeing the people going through the tour, but also the questions they asked. We sit in our offices and think we know what people know, but we discovered that there really is a lot more people would like to know.”

Bill also hit on issues concerning sustainability, what our global market is demanding and the world’s outlook for the future of the poultry industry.

Listen to my interview with Bill here: Interview with Bill Roenigk

Check out photos from the event here: 2013 Chicken Media Summit Photo Album

Chicken Media Summit Panelists

13cms-75editedDay three of the Chicken Media Summit gave attendees the opportunity to listen and get their questions answered. The National Chicken Council and US Poultry & Egg Association brought together executives, researchers, vets and other experts to serve on panels to address industry trends, challenges and other hot topics.

Bill Roenigk, Senior Vice President for the National Chicken Council, served as the moderator for the first panel of chicken company executives.

Lampkin Butts, President & COO of Sanderson Farms
Bill Lovette, President & CEO of Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation
Jim Perdue, Chairman of the Board for Perdue Farms

Each panelist addressed issues and challenges they all face to ensure a wholesome, nutritious product consumers will want. Each also stressed the need for transparency and the desire to be a sustainable company. Other topics discussed were global markets and the need for more protein worldwide.

Listen to Chicken Company Executives panel here: Panel One

13cms-87editedJohn Starkey, President, USPOULTRY, served as the moderator for the second panel on issues in the news.

Panelists & area of interest:
Poultry Welfare
Yvonne Thaxton, PhD., Center for Food Animal Wellbeing, University of Arkansas

Modernization of Poultry Inspection
Kendra Waldbusser, Senior VP, Food Safety & Quality Assurance, Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation

Chicken Labeling
Doug Smith, PhD., Associate Professor, Poultry Science, North Carolina State University

Role of Vets in Modern Poultry Companies
John Glisson, DVM, MAM, PhD., Director of Research Programs, USPOULTRY

Listen to Issues in the News panel here: Panel Two

Check out and download photos from the event here: 2013 Chicken Media Summit Photo Album

Embracing Transparency in the Poultry Industry

13cms-48-editedThe second day of Chicken Media Summit was all about transparency. Members of the press were invited to tour a hatchery, grower barn, processing plant and waste water treatment facility. This allowed for them to see with their own eyes the complete life of a chicken from egg to plate. And most importantly, get all questions answered.

Sanderson Farms was the company that opened it’s doors to attendees of this year’s summit. This experience alone was an eye opener for many. They were able to truly understand the science, technology and safety behind the most popular white meat.

President and CEO of Sanderson Farms, Lampkin Butts, along with many other Sanderson Farms employees spent the entire event with guests and were honored to play host to the Chicken Media Summit tours. I had to opportunity to spend the day with Lampkin and chatted with him as he discussed meeting consumers needs, challenges in the industry and growing price of feed.

Listen to my interview will Lampkin here: Interview with Lampkin Butts

Check out photos from the event here: 2013 Chicken Media Summit Photo Album

Enriching People’s Lives With Animal Source Foods

13-cms-16-editedAfter a fantastic four course dinner of stuffed chicken, attendees of the 2013 Chicken Media Summit were honored to hear a keynote address about the importance of animal sourced foods.

The National Chicken Council and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association brought in Bill Weldon, Vice President of Global Outreach & Development and Western Europe Commercial Business for Elanco Animal Health and Susan Finn, President and CEO of the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition. Together they shared how animal source foods are the key to enriching people’s lives and feeding the world for the next 50 years.

The three key elements of this new research focuses on broadening the understanding, empowering collaboration and advancing innovation. Statistics show that by 2050 we are expected to have about 9 billion mouths to feed. That means 70% more food will be needed and 70% of this will need to come from efficiency-improving technology.

“Food security has far-reaching ramifications for health productivity and quality of life at the individual, community and global levels. Historically, as societies emerge from poverty, they begin to consume animal source foods. Meat, milk and eggs provide a nutrient-rich diet, which is critical for brain and muscle development, and disease prevention, along with weight management. All of these combine to improve health and productivity, ultimately enriching people’s lives.”

Listen to my interview will Bill here: Interview with Bill Weldon

Check out photos from the event here: 2013 Chicken Media Summit Photo Album

Sunny Skies for Chicken Media Summit

photoThe sun is out and a warm ocean breeze is blowing here in New Bern, North Carolina for the Chicken Media Summit. The National Chicken Council and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association has once again brought together media from across the country to share their dedication to providing a wholesome product.

Tonight we hear from Bill Weldon, Ph.D., & Vice President of Global Research & Development and Western Europe Operations for Elanco Animal Health, and Susan Finn, PH. D., RD, FADA, President and CEO of the American Council for Fitness & Nutrition. They will give a 2013 report on the importance of animal source foods.

Tomorrow we embark on “Chicken: Farm to Forklift Day.” The day will include tours of a hatchery, chicken houses, processing plant and wastewater treatment plant.

And Friday wraps up with panel discussions with chicken company executives and industry issues.

Soon we will have a album full of pictures and audio interviews for download.