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Aaron Kiess: Focusing on Direct Industry Impact

Aaron Kiess, a professor in the Prestage Department of Poultry Science (PDPS), has only been at NC State University for a couple of months, but he is both eager and excited to start conducting impactful research for the commercial layer industry — raising egg-laying poultry birds for the purpose of commercial egg production.

Kiess was recently named the Braswell Family Distinguished Professor in Commercial Layer Management, Physiology, or Nutrition in PDPS where he’ll work to solve issues facing the layer industry in North Carolina. 

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the department chose a candidate that met certain criteria — demonstrated record of research productivity, graduation of quality graduate students and involvement in academic and professional activities.

North Carolina should be a leader in the egg industry.

President of Braswell Family Farms, Trey Braswell, says that he and others recognized a long-standing need for students to learn about commercial egg production and for producers to have more support from NC State.

“The university seemed to be heavily funded by and focused on broiler and turkey production in the state. We decided that we needed to step up as an advocate for our industry and get involved. An endowed professorship is a great opportunity to make sure our industry has that position in place permanently,” says Braswell. “North Carolina should be a leader in the egg industry.”

The process to find the right person for the position was long, but Braswell believes Kiess will be a good fit to work with North Carolina egg producers.

“Any time an individual is selected for a position that is endowed, it provides that person with a feeling of accomplishment,” Kiess says. In his new role at NC State, he’s extremely excited to see where he can extend his impact.

“It’s well known that egg producers are moving toward cage-free production,” says Kiess. He adds that part of his research will be to determine which strain of birds perform best in this type of environment. 

Kiess says they’ll try to answer questions such as, “What are the best management strategies for raising the birds? What are the food safety concerns of not being in a caged environment? These are examples of important issues that I want to try and address, not just for Braswell Family Farms, but for all egg producers in the state, country and potentially the world.”

The distinguished professorship provides funds to support NC State students working with Kiess.

All of my research really has been able to have a direct impact. The research I want to do at NC State will hopefully have the same immediate or quick impact for the layer industry.

“I’m also working on an egg certificate program. It will have two components consisting of courses for current NC State graduate students and continuing education units (CEU’s) for those already in the industry. The courses being developed will focus on areas such as current management systems, food safety, and federal regulations,” Kiess explains. “Over time we will have a comprehensive extension program for the industry but also for graduate students who the industry will want to hire.”

Prior to coming to NC State, Kiess spent the past 13 years at Mississippi State University where his primary focus was with the broiler industry, although he’s previously worked with the turkey and layer industries. One of his main passions is food safety. His previous research has addressed issues related to reducing salmonella in the broiler processing plant, administering alternatives to antibiotics, whether it be via feed or In Ovo routes, and methods for improving litter quality within the broiler house. 

“I’m pretty eclectic when it comes to my research, but all of my research really has been able to have a direct impact,” Kiess says. “The research I want to do at NC State will hopefully have the same immediate or quick impact for the layer industry, allowing them to continue to provide a safe product to the customers they serve.”

This post was originally published in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences News.