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5 questions with Aviagen North America’s Dr. Sara Reichelt

An interview with the company's new director of welfare and sustainability.


August 12, 2021
By Brett Ruffell

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Dr. Sara Reichelt is director of welfare and sustainability with Aviagen North America.

In May, Aviagen North America named Dr. Sara Reichelt as its new director of welfare and sustainability. In this new role, Reichelt will be the face of welfare and sustainability for Aviagen’s North American customer base. We asked her five questions.

Why was the director of welfare and sustainability role created?
This additional role was created after years of considering how to best serve our birds, our customers, and our industry as it evolves in our North American company. The focus on welfare and sustainability by consumers and customers will continue to grow, as it should, as the modern consumer becomes more and more interested in where their food comes from and how the animals were treated. So, we needed someone to be able to consolidate data, lead trials, research innovative technology, and institute practices to meet and exceed expectations. 

What are you responsible for?
I am responsible for continuing to grow our welfare and sustainability culture at Aviagen North America. What that means is, I work alongside many teams in supporting the company on key welfare opportunities, researching and implementing ongoing improvement in bird wellness and well-being. I also work in close cooperation with the global Aviagen Group welfare and sustainability team. With welfare evolving constantly, I also help provide internal training to ensure employees remain up-to-date on the latest best practices. For sustainability, I will lead efforts to implement efficiencies that make poultry production environmentally, socially, and economically responsible. 

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What has been your first priority?
My first priority has been building bridges and connections. I have spent a significant amount of time talking to people throughout the company to determine what the needs and expectations for welfare and sustainability are. You can have all of the best intentions, but without a team that is “all-in”, you won’t be able to instill a culture, and that is my greatest mission internally for this role. 

You also chair the American Association of Avian Pathologists (AAAP) Women’s Network. Can you tell us about that initiative?
When Dr. Kate Barger reached out four years ago to create a network to support women in the AAAP, it was an opportunity I could not say no to. The AAAP is an evolving organization with a changing demographic, so the AAAP Women’s Network (AWN) was created to ensure a welcoming organization to all by providing support to the increasing number of women who are entering a traditionally male-dominated industry. 

What is your proudest career achievement thus far?
This one is hard to say. I honestly feel that every week there are small wins that mean quite a bit to me. Holding a successful training where a crew member is excited to know the “why” behind one of our practices, participating in a heated discussion with teammates that ends in a practical protocol to roll out, or seeing first-hand the welfare or sustainability standards we share be instituted all feel like achievements.