Join more than 400 attendees from across the United States and hear the latest updates on research and policies regarding poultry diseases, processing, and managing bird health and animal welfare on the farm.

Presenting Sponsors


56th National Meeting on Poultry Health, Processing, and Live Production


Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel, 10100 Coastal Highway, Ocean City, Maryland


Monday September 27, 2021 - Wednesday September 29, 2021


Veterinarians, processing facility managers, quality assurance managers and supervisors, grow-out managers, live production managers, flock supervisors, growers, pharmaceutical representatives, allied businesses, government regulators and officials, research faculty, university extension and others involved in the poultry industry.


On-Demand Option
Recordings and Presentations

We recognize that COVID-19 restrictions put in place by companies and governments made it difficult or impossible for some potential National Meeting guests to attend this year, so we're offering another way to get access to the insights our speakers provided. For $50, you can register to access a secure web page that will have recordings of the presentations from each session, as well as PDF downloads of each presentation our speakers consented to have us share in this online resource. DCA will make this web page available on or around October 15, 2021 to on-demand option registrants, as well as every other regular registered attendee of the National Meeting - if you registered before the meeting or in person at our registration desk, there's no need to purchase this on-demand option. On-Demand Registration is $50

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Thank you to our sponsors for their generous support of this meeting!

Presenting Sponsors

Reception Sponsors

Lunch Sponsors

Breakfast Sponsors

Session Sponsors

Badgeholder Sponsor


Gold Sponsors


Eurofins Laboratories

Kemin Animal Nutrition & Health

York Ag

Silver Sponsors


CMS technologies

Charles River


Valley Proteins

University of Delaware - Biosecurity Education: CAP NIFA AFRI Grant #2015-68004-23131

Download the Program

 Monday, September 27, 2021

Time Presentation/Event
4:00 - 7:00 p.m. Registration
5:00 - 8:00 p.m. Reception

 Tuesday, September 28, 2021 - (Combined Session I: Poultry Health and Processing)

Time Presentation/Event
6:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast
7:00 a.m. Registration opens
8:00 a.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks
Dr. Claudia Osorio, Chairperson, DCA Poultry Health and Welfare Committee
8:10 a.m. Keynote Speaker: USDA/FSIS Vision for the Future
Sandra Eskin, USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Food Safety
8:55 a.m. CDC Salmonella and Poultry Update
Dr. Robert Tauxe, Director of the Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases, CDC
9:30 a.m. Questions and Answers
9:45 a.m. Break
10:05 a.m. Using Your Data to Inform Your Pathogen Intervention Strategies
Timothy Buisker, Smart Data Science Solutions
10:40 a.m. Live Side Interventions to Reduce Foodborne Pathogens
Dr. Charles Hofacre, Southern Poultry Research Group, Inc.
11:15 a.m. The State of the U.S. Chicken Business: Before and After COVID-19
Michael Donohue, Agri Stats Inc.
12 p.m. Questions and Answers

 Tuesday, September 28, 2021 - (Poultry Health Session I)

Time Presentation/Event
1:30 p.m. Overview of Avian Immunology and Immunosuppression
Dr. Guillermo Zavala, Consultant, Avian Health International, LLC
2:10 p.m. Marek's Disease: Current Status and Control Measures
Dr. Isabel Gimeno, NCSU
2:35 p.m. Field Experiences with Inclusion Body Hepatitis
Dr. Suzanne Dougherty, Pilgrim's Pride
3:00 p.m. Questions and Answers
3:15 p.m. Break
3:30 p.m. Overview and Mitigation Strategies for Mycotoxins in Poultry
Dr. Mark LaVorgna, Devenish
4:00 p.m. Mycotoxin Detection in Feed and Animals: New Diagnostics
Dr. Rachel Thiemann, Mississippi State University
4:25 p.m. Field Experiences with Mycotoxins
Dr. Sara Throne, Simmons Foods
4:50 p.m. Questions and Answers
5:05 p.m. Adjourn
5:30 p.m. Reception
6:00 p.m. Maryland Seafood Buffet Dinner

 Tuesday, September 28, 2021 - (Processing Session)

Time Presentation/Event
1:30 p.m. Innovative Technology to Improve Poultry Production and Reduce Effects of Woody Breast in Processing Plants
Colin Usher, Senior Research Scientist, and Dr. Jie Xu, Principal Research Scientist, Georgia Tech Research Institute and Dr. Casey Owens, Professor, University of Arkansas
2:45 p.m. Questions and Answers
3:00 p.m. Break
3:20 p.m. Salmonella Vaccination: Current Status and Future Solutions
Dr. Chuck Hofacre
3:50 p.m. Campylobacter Vaccination: A Novel Approach
Dr. Christine Szymanski, UGA
4:20 p.m. Balancing the Cost of Food Safety
Mike Donohue, Agristats
4:45 p.m. Questions and Answers
5:00 p.m. Adjourn
5:30 p.m. Reception
6:00 p.m. Seafood Buffet Dinner

 Wednesday, September 29, 2021 - (Combined Session II: Poultry Health and Live Production)

Time Presentation/Event
6:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast
7:00 a.m. Registration opens
8:00 a.m. Welcome
8:10 a.m. Emergency Response for Poultry Flocks During the Texas Freeze of 2021: Field Experiences
Dr. Kevin Kessler, Tyson Foods
8:30 a.m. State Perspective on the Texas Freeze of 2021
Dawna Michalke, Livestock Inspector Field Trainer, Texas Animal Health Commission
8:50 a.m. Emergency Response for Poultry Flocks During the Texas Freeze of 2021: Association Experiences
J.C. Essler, Texas Poultry Federation
9:10 a.m. Local Emergency Preparedness for Extreme Weather
Joe Thomas, Sussex County Emergency Operations Center
9:30 a.m. Questions and Answers
9:45 a.m. Break

 Wednesday, September 29, 2021 - (Poultry Health Session II)

Time Presentation/Event
10:10 a.m. Genetic Selection for Reproductive Traits in Broilers
Dr. Mark Cooper, Cobb
10:35 a.m. Breeder Male Management to Optimize Fertility
Ken Semon, Technical Service Manager, Aviagen, Inc.
11:00 a.m. Optimal Egg Quality
Thomas Lively, Hatchery Specialist, World Tech Group, Cobb-Vantress, Inc.
11:25 a.m. Questions and Answers
11:45 p.m. Adjourn

 Wednesday, September 29, 2021 - (Live Production Session)

Time Presentation/Event
10:10 a.m. A Fresh Look at Dihydrogen Monoxide (It's Just Water, Y'all)
Mary Katherine Foy, Director of Technical Services, Proxy-Clean Products
10:45 a.m. Optimizing House Ventilation Quality
Mike Czarick, University of Georgia
11:20 a.m. Questions and Answers
11:35 a.m. Lunch
12:45 p.m. Outstanding Flock Supervisor Awards
Jennifer Feindt, DCA President
1:00 p.m. Current Legal Issues
Paul Goeringer, University of Maryland Agriculture Law Education Initiative
1:20 p.m. Ambient Air Monitoring Data Update
James Boyle, Maryland Department of the Environment
1:40 p.m. Greater Benefits of Vegetative Environmental Buffers
Bud Malone, Malone Poultry Consulting
2:00 p.m. Questions and Answers
2:15 p.m. Biosecurity Basics
Dr. Nathaniel L. Tablante, University of Maryland
2:35 p.m. Importance of Rodent, Fly and Pest Control
Dr. Cassie Krejci, Texas A&M University
2:55 p.m. Mortality Management for Proper Biosecurity
Dr. Gary Felton, University of Maryland
3:20 p.m. Questions and Answers
3:35 p.m. Adjourn

James Boyle
A Connecticut native, James Boyle had a passion for extreme weather and weather forecasting. His passion for weather led him to Western Connecticut State University where he received a bachelor’s degree in meteorology in the spring of 2009. He then moved to upstate New Hampshire to attend graduate school at Plymouth State University, receiving an M.S. in applied meteorology in December of 2010. After returning back to Connecticut, James accepted a position at Southern Connecticut State University where he taught introductory Meteorology and Earth Science. After teaching for several years James accepted his current position with the Maryland Department of the Environment as an air quality forecaster.

Dr. Mark Cooper
Dr. Mark Cooper has a Bachelor Degree in Poultry Science from Texas A & M University, a Master of Science Degree in Poultry Genetics from The University of Georgia, and a Ph.D. in Poultry Genetics from the University of Arkansas. Since coming to Cobb-Vantress, Inc., he has served as Pedigree Geneticist responsible for Male Line Development, European Director of Genetics, Director of Genetics for all of Cobb’s breeding programs, Director of Product Management, Director of Product Testing and now as Managing Director of Global Genetics. Mark has represented Cobb on industry, governmental and university related committees in Europe and the U.S. dealing with Genetics, Meat Quality and Welfare.

Michael Czarick
Michael Czarick is an extension engineer for the University of Georgia Department of Poultry Science. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in agricultural engineering and specializes in poultry house environmental control and energy conservation.

Michael Donohue
Michael Donohue is vice president of Agri Stats, Inc., working with U.S., Canadian and international broiler companies to use confidential, comparative benchmarking data to improve operational efficiencies and reduce costs. Prior to that, he held marketing and management positions with Arbor Acres Farm, Inc. He holds an M.S. in Food and Resource Economics from the University of Massachusetts and earned a B.S. in Political Science at Providence College.

Dr. Suzanne Young Dougherty
Dr. Dougherty is a native of Texas and received her BS in Poultry Science in 1998, MS in Poultry Science in 2000 and her DVM in 2003, all from Texas A&M University. She received her Master of Avian Medicine (MAM) from the University of Georgia in 2004. Suzanne became an American College of Poultry Veterinarians diplomat in 2005.

Previously, she was a technical service veterinarian with Aviagen (2005-2006) and director of veterinary services with Pilgrim's Pride for 2 years from 2006-2008. Dr. Dougherty served as the Director of Veterinary Services with Keystone Foods for 5 years, 2008-2013, working in live production health, management, animal welfare and pre-harvest food safety. After leaving Keystone to spend more time with her young daughter, she was an independent consultant at Pecking Around Consulting from 2013-2018. In January 2019, she rejoined Pilgrims as a live production veterinarian responsible for 7 complexes in the central region including Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and Kentucky. She currently lives in North Alabama.

Suzanne currently serves as the Executive Vice President of the American Association of Avian Pathologists (AAAP 2016-2026) and the Executive Vice President of the American College of Poultry Veterinarians (2019-2026). She currently serves on the PAACO Board as the Member Representative, a member of the International Poultry Welfare Association Poultry Health Committee, AVMA Legislative Advisory committee as the AAAP representative (2015-2021). Previously she served 2 terms (6 years) on the AVMA Food Safety Committee representing AAAP. She has been PAACO certified since 2008 and served as an external broiler welfare expert on the PAACO Standards for Certification of Animal Welfare Audit Instruments & Processes Panel for 2 different broiler audit approvals.

Sandra Eskin
Sandra Eskin was appointed Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety on March 16, 2021. In this role, Mrs. Eskin leads the Office of Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, overseeing the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which has regulatory oversight for ensuring that meat, poultry and egg products are safe, wholesome and accurately labeled. Prior to joining USDA, Mrs. Eskin was the Project Director for Food Safety at The Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington, D.C., a position she held since November 2009. She also served as the Deputy Director of the Produce Safety Project (PSP), a Pew-funded initiative at Georgetown University from 2008-2009. While at PSP, she was a senior scholar with the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. Mrs. Eskin spent nearly 20 years as a public-policy consultant to numerous consumer advocacy and public-interest organizations, providing strategic and policy advice on a broad range of consumer-protection issues, in particular food and drug safety, labeling, and advertising. She has served as a member of multiple federal advisory committees related to consumer information on prescription drugs, meat and poultry safety, and foodborne illness surveillance. During her career, she has written numerous reports and articles on food-safety topics. Mrs. Eskin received her J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law, and her B.A. from Brown University.

JC Essler
Since 2019, JC Essler has been the Executive Vice-President of the Texas Poultry Federation. Before joining the Texas Poultry Federation, JC worked for the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) for 17 years. During his time at TVMDL, he was a Poultry Programs Administrator where he was the state coordinator for the National Poultry Improvement Plan in Texas for 12 years. He is a 2000 graduate of Texas A&M University with a B.S. in Poultry Science.

Gary Felton
Gary Felton is Director of Extension for the Environmental Science and Technology department at the University of Maryland. Gary's education was gained at the University of Maryland (BS and MS in Agricultural Engineering) and Texas A&M University (Ph.D.), again in Agricultural Engineering. He has been working in non-point source pollution, focusing on nutrients, since 1978. His work has included work on composting since 2004, and has been teaching and organizing the Mid-Atlantic Better Composting School since 2004. He has been an instructor and an organizer for some US Composting Council Compost Operators Training Courses. He organizes and teaches Large Animal composting short courses and Poultry Mortality Composting short courses in Maryland. Gary has served as the Extension Water Quality Specialist at the University of Maryland and works on poultry litter management, biosolids, and urban nutrients. Gary has taught Master Gardeners homeowner turfgrass care and management since 1997 and has researched fate and transport of nitrogen from suburban settings as part of that work. He is Chair of the Urban Nutrient Management Work Group (advisory group to Maryland Dept. of Agriculture) and author of the Maryland Professional Lawn Care guide.

Mary Katherine Foy
Mary Katherine Foy is currently the Director of Technical Services for Proxy-Clean Products in McKinney, Texas. She holds a masters in environmental microbiology and has spent her entire career in the agricultural field. Mary began as a research scientist for the University of Arkansas' Poultry Products Division where her focus was improving the quality of water used during processing. She moved on to be a laboratory supervisor and quality assurance manager for Cargill, Inc. Beef Division. Most recently she was the research assistant, lab manager and Cooperative Extension agent for Dr. Susan Watkins at the University of Arkansas' Center of Excellence for Poultry Science where she gained extensive experience conducting trials on water conditioning additives and working one on one with growers on their farms to test, evaluate and develop solutions for their water quality needs.

Dr. Isabel Gimeno
Dr. Isabel Gimeno is a Professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine of North Carolina State University. She obtained her DVM, MS, and PhD at the Complutense University of Madrid and spend several years doing research at the USDA-ARS Avian Disease Oncology Laboratory. She became a Diplomate of the American College of Poultry Veterinarians in 2002. Her research is focused on various aspects of Marek’s disease including pathogenesis, diagnosis, and control. She has published 60 peer review papers, two books, and nine book chapters. She has presented her research in 82 key-note speaker talks and 88 presentations at scientific meetings. Dr. Gimeno has received several awards including the American Association of Avian pathologists Bayer-Snoeyenbos New Investigator Award (2008) and two P.P. Levine Award (2016 and 2017).

Paul Goeringer
Paul Goeringer is a Senior Faculty Specialist and the Extension Legal Specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at University of Maryland. His research and extension program is focused on agricultural law issues including agricultural leases, energy leases, landowner liability, production contracts, agricultural nuisance issues, environmental law, and estate planning issues impacting agricultural producers in Maryland. He actively collaborates on research projects with collaborations across UMD and at other institutions. Paul has secured state and federal funding for his research including USDA’s

Dr. Charles Hofacre
Charles Hofacre (Chuck) is from a small Ohio farming community, Wooster. He holds a B.S. in Agriculture, an M.S. in Poultry Science, and Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from The Ohio State University. He also has a Master of Avian Medicine and PhD in Veterinary Medical Microbiology from The University of Georgia. The positions he has held were as Director of Veterinary Medicine at a turkey production company, Cuddy Farms, Inc. in Marshville, NC. He then served 7 years as a Vice-President and member of the Board of Directors for Ross Breeders, Inc., in Huntsville, Alabama. Following Ross Breeders, he was the Manager of Technical Service for Bayer's poultry business in the U.S. Chuck served as the Executive Vice President of the poultry veterinary organization, the American Association of Avian Pathologists (AAAP), from 2003 to 2016. Chuck retired from The University of Georgia after 19 years as a Professor in the Department of Population Health and the Director of Clinical Services for the Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center in Athens, Georgia. In May 2013, Chuck and his wife Christa started a private contract research company, The Southern Poultry Research Group, near Athens, Georgia.

Dr. Cassie Krejci
Dr. Cassie Krejci is the Animal Health Technical Field Specialist at MGK, where she works to support pest control professionals and livestock producers with education and product guidance. Cassie is a veterinary entomologist who received her Ph.D. from the Rollins Urban Entomology Laboratory at Texas A&M University, and a Master of Science degree in Agriculture from Tarleton State University. Cassie’s specialties include fly and biting midge control in all areas of production agriculture and she is country’s foremost expert on bed bug control in poultry production. Cassie lives in College Station, Texas, with her husband and two daughters.

Dr. Mark LaVorgna
Dr. Mark LaVorgna was educated at Cornell University and earned his doctrate at University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He began his career as a Nutritionist with Showell Farms in 1981, and Worked for Perdue Farms from 1986 through 2002. He joined Alpharma in 2002 as Global Director of Technical Service. Following several acquisitions, became Director of Global Poultry Technical Services for Zoetis in 2011. He joined Devenish Nutrition in 2014 where he is presently employed as Poultry Technical Director.

Bud Malone
Bud Malone of Malone Poultry Consulting was a poultry scientist and extension specialist for the University of Delaware, retiring in 2009 after 34 years of service. His applied research and extension programs focused on air quality, litter and waste management. He provided consulting services on a part-time basis for an additional 11 years, retiring again in 2020. Starting in 1999 one of his most rewarding accomplishments was proposing, demonstrating and educating the poultry industry and agencies on the merits of vegetative environmental buffers.

Dawna H. Michalke
Dawna H. MIchalke graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas and has been with the Texas Animal Health Commission for 31 years, 27 of as animal health inspector and the last three as a field trainer. She has done extensive work in the Live Bird Marketing System in Texas and is a member of the National LBMS Working Group. She assisted in the creation and implementation of the Fowl Registration Program which includes the Live bird Marketing System. She has responded to all avian disease outbreaks in Texas.

Dr. Christine Szymanski
Christine Szymanski first began working with Campylobacter jejuni during her Ph.D. in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. She then joined the Enteric Disease Vaccine Program at the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, Maryland for her postdoctoral studies prior to starting her own independent research career first at the National Research Council in Ottawa, Canada and then back at the University of Alberta, where she also formed the company VaxAlta Inc. with a focus on carbohydrate-based vaccines for livestock. Christine joined the University of Georgia in 2016 where she continues her work on enteric vaccines and is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Dr. Nathaniel Tablante
Dr. Nathaniel Tablante is a Professor and Extension Poultry Health Specialist at the University of Maryland campus of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in College Park, Maryland. He has spent a large part of his career as a field veterinarian in the Philippines, Canada, and the United States and has more than 30 years of experience in poultry health management, epidemiology, and biosecurity. He has authored and co-authored numerous articles and educational materials on poultry health, biosecurity, and disease prevention. He has also served as a consultant on poultry biosecurity and avian influenza preparedness and response in the United States, Canada, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, and the Republic of Georgia. In addition to his D.V.M. degree from the University of the Philippines, Dr. Tablante completed a Master of Preventive Veterinary Medicine at the University of California-Davis and a Master of Science at the University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada). Since assuming a faculty position at the University of Maryland in 1997, Dr. Tablante has implemented an Extension and applied research program that focuses on improving poultry health and production through biosecurity and disease prevention.

Dr. Robert V. Tauxe
Dr. Robert Tauxe is Director of the CDC Division that is charged with prevention and control of foodborne, waterborne and fungal infections. The Division monitors the frequency of these infections in the United States, investigates outbreaks, and develops strategies to reduce the disease, disability and deaths that they cause. Dr. Tauxe graduated from Yale University in 1975, and received his medical degree from Vanderbilt Medical School in Nashville, Tennessee. He holds a Masters degree in Public Health from Yale, and completed an internal medicine residency at the University of Washington. He then trained at CDC in the Epidemic Intelligence Service for two years and joined CDC staff in 1985. His interests include bacterial enteric diseases, epidemiology and pathogenesis of infectious diseases, epidemiologic and clinical consequences of bacterial genetic exchange, antimicrobial use and resistance to antimicrobial agents, and teaching epidemiologic methods. His faculty appointments include the School of Public Health and the Department of Biology at Emory University, Atlanta. Dr. Tauxe has written or co-authored 303 journal articles, letters and book chapters.

Dr. Rachael Thiemann
Dr. Rachel Thiemann received her bachelor’s degree in Poultry Science from North Carolina State University in 2016. She was awarded guaranteed acceptance into NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine during her junior year of undergrad. Rachel graduated with her DVM from NCSU CVM in 2020. In June 2020, Rachel began the ACPV training program at Mississippi State University’s Poultry Research and Diagnostic Laboratory. She is a Masters (non-thesis) candidate with a Population Health focus.

Joe Thomas
Joe Thomas is director of the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center in Georgetown, Del. He is responsible for overall administration of the 9-1-1 Center as well as the Office of Emergency Management. He has coordinated several federal declared disasters, which include back to back Nor'easters in 1998, Hurricane Isabel in 2003, a blizzard in 2010, Hurricane Irene in 2011, and Superstorm Sandy in 2012. He also serves as Chairman of the Delmarva Emergency Task Force, a regional emergency planning group comprised of emergency managers, law enforcement, and transportation officials from Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.

Dr. Sara Throne
Dr. Sara Throne is the Senior Director of Veterinary Services for Simmons Foods, Inc based out of Northwest Arkansas. She has been with Simmons for 2 years. She and her team are responsible for the health and welfare programs, live production quality assurance and the Simmons research farms. Prior to Simmons, Sara was with Elanco Animal Health for 17 years mostly within the poultry business unit. For the first 15 years of her career, she provided broiler technical support and later managed their team of poultry experts across the US. During her last two years, she served as their Chief Veterinarian focused on scientific and public policy by working with various stakeholders to determine their animal health and welfare policies. Throughout her career she has worked with broiler customers around the globe in over 20 countries on their health and management programs as well as speaking at the local and national level.

Colin Usher
Colin Usher is a Senior Research Scientist at the Georgia Tech Research Institute where he has served as a technical lead and project manager for the past 20 years. He has managed several multidisciplinary teams in the development and evaluation of industrial automation prototype systems for a multitude of clients ranging from food processing companies to the Georgia Department of Transportation. His technical expertise is in machine vision, robotics, system integration, and embedded system development. During his career, he has designed, developed, and tested robotic control systems, image-based classification systems, embedded logic control systems, and mobile applications.

Jie Xu
Prior to spending her last 20 years at GTRI, Jie Xu was a beamline scientist at the Center for Advanced Microstructures and Devices (CAMD) at Louisiana State University. Her primary area of research is the development of sensor technologies for rapid chemical and biological detections in the field. Dr. Xu is currently working on next-generation sensor development for chem & bio detections, nutrient recovery and recycling in wastewater, early stress diagnosis in plants using plants emitted volatile organic compounds. She received her BS and MS degree in analytical chemistry from Lanzhou University in 1991 and 1994, and her Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2000.