Who’s Who – Ontario – Dr. Kayla Price
By Madeleine BaergFeatures Researchers
City-girl turned poultry advocate wears many hats.
You likely recognize the name Dr. Kayla Price from her informative poultry health and husbandry articles in Canadian Poultry magazine. But sharing her knowledge in this publication is just one of the many ways this agvocate is helping build a stronger poultry industry.
“I guess I do wear quite a bunch of hats,” she admits with a laugh. “I just really love this industry and I see many opportunities to do my part.”
A bunch of hats, indeed.
Price’s official title is technical manager for Alltech Canada. In that role, she provides technical and sales support, not just for the Alltech team but also for all parts of the poultry value chain, from producers to feed reps, from veterinarians to processors and everyone in between.
She’s also in charge of Alltech’s Canadian regulatory and research portfolios, overseeing new products and technologies coming to market across multiple livestock types. Although, she is quick to say, “Poultry is my first love.”
Alongside a very busy job, Price makes time to regularly present at national and international conferences on all kinds of poultry-related topics, from gut health to new production technologies to new research findings. Colleagues see her as a connector: a connector of ideas, of new technologies and of people, too.
“Kayla stands out from the crowd, she knows her own mind and has the information to back up why she is so confident in everything she does,” says John Cooper, poultry technical manager with Alltech U.K. “She is always looking at opportunities to help her industry from an advisory point of view as well as from an Alltech perspective. [Her skill is] bringing ideas and people together from across the industry.”
While in-person presentations are a great way to share in-depth knowledge, Price also serves up smaller, more accessible bites of information to a wider audience through social media. Using the hashtag #poultrywithkayla, Price shares her technical knowledge, free to all, in a fun, accessible, high-energy way.
“Kayla is a great social agvocate for the poultry industry,” says Jenn Norrie, communications manager for Alltech North America and Europe. “She’s so creative and uses social media as a great way to share her passion for poultry.”
“I’m really passionate about educating people,” Price says. “Teaching others is something that really drives me. If I could have a positive impact on even one person — if I help them learn something new, or give them information so they could think a little differently about their operation or their management – that’s the legacy I want to leave. That’s the best impact I can have.”
To round out an already bursting schedule, Price also serves as an adjunct professor in the Ontario Agriculture College at the University of Guelph, supporting student research projects and helping with grad student advisory. “I really appreciated the people who took the time to teach and mentor me and who gave me the space to learn. I hope that’s something I can do for others coming into the industry as well.”
Path to poultry
As dedicated as Price is to poultry today, could this born-and-raised city kid have imagined, if you’d asked her a just over decade ago, that she’d commit her career path to poultry? “Honestly, no. Originally, agriculture was a distant idea: I just knew that was how food got to the grocery store. A career in agriculture was a complete left turn for me,” she says.
In fact, when Price took her first parasitology class during her undergrad degree, she already had her whole career path laid out. She planned to become a doctor – the human physician kind – and the class was simply a step en route to that goal. But the class engaged and inspired her and got her thinking about research. Curious to dig a little deeper, she enrolled in a parasitology research class, where she started working with coccidiosis in chickens.
She was hooked, though at the time, her interest was in the protozoan invaders, not the poultry they attacked. “It’s not the direction I planned, but I found the research so fascinating,” she says.
As she moved into grad school, she decided she should get to know more about the animal host she had chanced into researching. “By the time I went into grad school, I started to ask more questions. As I started opening my eyes to poultry in general and to what the poultry industry is about, I started realizing I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed how the industry is set up and I really enjoyed working with poultry themselves. And maybe most of all, I enjoy the community feel of the industry: it’s the producers for sure but it’s also everyone from the feed mills to the vets to the hatcheries and processors and allied industries: they’re all very much a community. I’m excited that I get to be part of that.”
Having an impact
Price has already made key impacts to poultry production. During her Ph.D. research, she studied the environmental influence on live coccidiosis vaccine success in chickens, leading to an innovative vaccine delivery model that is now widely adopted by industry.
In just the last couple of years, she’s been instrumental in helping layer operations improve their eggshell quality through feeding advanced forms of organic trace mineral blends, resulting in reduced downgrades and fewer cracked eggs.
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