Insights from a Strategic Poultry Advisor
How do you cook the perfect Thanksgiving turkey? Dr. Roy Brister, strategic poultry advisor at Alltech, joins the Ag Future podcast to discuss his journey in the poultry industry, upcoming trends for 2024 and his top tip for achieving turkey perfection.
The following is an edited transcript of the Ag Future podcast episode with Dr. Roy Brister hosted by Tom Martin. Click below to hear the full audio or listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.
Tom: I’m Tom Martin, and joining us today is Dr. Roy Brister, a strategic poultry advisor for Alltech. Dr. Brister joined Alltech at the start of 2023 following an extensive career at Tyson Foods. Dr. Brister, thank you for joining us.
Roy: Thank you for the invitation.
Tom: Your background in the poultry industry is truly impressive. I wonder if you could provide our listeners with some insights into your journey and what initially sparked your interest in this industry.
Roy: It’s been a good ride. I grew up in a family that was always involved in agriculture. We didn’t have any land ourselves, but we always worked for people that had land and animals. And at a young age, I thought I wanted to become a veterinarian. And so, I always loved agriculture and wanted to be a part of agriculture and help feed the world. I went to school to become a veterinarian, got an ag ed degree, and wasn’t able to get into vet school. And I had a younger brother that happened to be on a 4H poultry judging team and got a scholarship to Texas A&M in poultry science. And after watching him, he had a lot of opportunities being offered to him as an undergraduate student.
So when I finished my ag ed degree, I thought, I’m gonna try this poultry thing. And I always loved nutrition and was able to get into the poultry science department, work on a master’s and Ph.D. in poultry nutrition, and with that got out of school and worked for a company called Diamond Shamrock for four years before getting into the poultry industry. It’s been a good trip, and I’m thankful for a little brother that sort of showed me the light of the poultry industry.
Tom: Well, it’s very clear that you had a front row seat to the substantial growth of the poultry industry, especially in the broiler segment, throughout your career. From your unique perspective, what key factors do you think have been the driving forces behind this success?
Roy: I think there’s many reasons. If you look just at the genetic progress that the industry has made, improvements in housing, biosecurity, nutrition, and of course chicken being a great product, people love to eat chicken, it’s eaten all over the world, it’s economical, it’s nutritious, and I think all those things together have continued to see the growth.
And I was just reading some articles. It appears that it will continue to see growth on into the next decade. It will be the fastest-growing meat consumed. And with that, it will bring a lot of opportunities for the industry itself, but an opportunity to help feed the world a sustainable, nutritious source of protein.
Tom: Well, having spent a large amount of your career making impactful nutrition and business decisions for a big poultry producer, how does it feel to now work within the allied industry sector? Are there any differences you’d like to touch on and talk about?
Roy: Well, I think it’s been great to see both sides, to have sat on both sides of the desk a little bit. There’s a lot of opportunity in the allied side to bring new technologies. When I was sitting in the production side of it, we were working every day to try to improve what we were doing, but the allied industry has some opportunities to actually do the research and bring those things forward to production companies. So, I think it’s exciting what we can do and what we will probably doing in the future. I think we sort of help lead and guide and direct some of the production companies and help solve the problems they run into each and every day.
Tom: Having taken the role of a strategic poultry advisor at Alltech earlier this year, as we look ahead to 2024, what advice would you offer to poultry producers as they get ready for the upcoming year?
Roy: Well, I think 2024 is going to be a tough year for agriculture in general. Tough times do not last, but tough people do. So, just try to partner with companies such as an Alltech. They can help you make it through these difficult times. Use them as part of your technical team. That’s what I did at Tyson Foods: tried to find companies that could be a part of my technical team, that I could call on in difficult times to help provide answers to things I didn’t have time to work towards. And I think we have so many good companies out there, Alltech being one of them, that I would partner with those companies to help make it through the difficult times and look forward to the next times of growth and prosperity in the industry.
Tom: Well, Dr. Brister, feeling lucky here because of the time of year, we can’t pass up the opportunity to ask you, of all people: What would be your top advice for cooking the perfect Thanksgiving turkey?
Roy: My top advice would be to pull out the smoker, get the Traeger cranked up, put your turkey on there. There’s nothing better than a great smoked turkey. Turkey is such a versatile product. You can stick it in the oven, you can deep-fry it, but I think you can’t go wrong with smoking it. Invite your family and friends and just celebrate the time of thankfulness that we’ve been blessed with in this industry.
Tom: All right. That sounds wonderful. Roy Brister, strategic poultry advisor for Alltech. Thanks for the conversation.
Roy: Thank you very much yourself.
Tom: I’m Tom Martin, and thanks for listening.