2023 IPPE: Cobb’s William Herring on new role as Cobb VP of R&D

Cobb wants to partner with customers and industry on genetic progress
calendar icon 19 April 2023
clock icon 3 minute read

William Herring, vice president of Research & Development with Cobb, spoke with The Poultry Site’s Sarah Mikesell during IPPE held in Atlanta, Georgia, USA about his new R&D role.

“I just joined Cobb about six months ago, so I’m very new in the role and responsibility which falls into two primary areas, research and development and the ongoing genetic improvement of our product portfolio,” said Herring. “There are near term research initiatives that can have customer impact sooner, and those things that position us as a genetics provider as we look out five and 10 years.”

Cobbs “What if” positioning

Looking across agriculture and genetic improvement, Herring says there is a converging and opportunity of many different technologies that can come together.

“It's a theme around stretching our minds to capture those opportunities - whether it be the massive amount of data we have access to today, technology or animal health - bringing all of those things together into a package that converges and provides customer solutions on problems that they're facing today and as we move into the future.”

Partnering with customers on genetic progress

Herring said partnering with customers is important and can take on numerous forms.

“For example, I've had conversations with customers as I've gotten out and met with a number of people across the world who are customers of Cobb today,” he said. “But one idea that we have that we would like to capitalize on is if we can partner with customers to share data specific to their systems and their business, it helps us tailor-provide a product specifically that is focused on their business the factors impacting their P&L.”

These partnerships exist across the industry because they're mutually beneficial, and for these types of systems, it’s the best way to provide a genetic product.

“And that's what we are - we're a genetics provider. In the world of broiler genetics, if we have the data that reflect our customer's system, it really helps us a great deal to target the right product mix for our customers,” he said.

Cobb Research Initiative

Cobb launched a new initiative called Cobb Research Initiative that is accepting different types of grant submissions.

“It is exciting for me coming into the new role, and I think this is a great research opportunity. We're not being incredibly specific – the initiative casts a very wide net in terms of those technologies that we talked about just a minute ago that are out there. But they're focused around, livability, production traits, end product, animal welfare and any of the underlying technologies that we can bring in to help us be better at those,” he explained. “I've spent most of today here talking with numerous researchers from various universities across the globe that we're inviting to participate.”

Those who wish to propose research can enter a pre-submission process, and then the Cobb team moves on to a final selection process.

“I’ll just leave you again with the idea of bringing these bits and pieces that have evolved out in the technology space and in science over the last few years,” he said. “You see some of the specifics here on the trade show floor, and we want to bring all of those together and have them converge into a common theme of genetic improvement based on science for the benefit of our customers.”

Sarah Mikesell


Sarah Mikesell grew up on a five-generation family farming operation in Ohio, USA, where her family still farms. She feels extraordinarily lucky to get to do what she loves - write about livestock and crop agriculture. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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