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Homegrown: From the Farm to Your Family | KTIC Radio

Homegrown: From the Farm to Your Family

Homegrown: From the Farm to Your Family

LAUREL, Miss., /PRNewswire/ — As Americans become

increasingly interested in food production, a movement of people

demanding to know exactly where their food comes from has emerged. In

a continued effort to be transparent with consumers, Sanderson Farms

is pulling away the curtain and providing an honest look at how its

chickens are grown and processed.

Step 1: Farm to Hatchery

Sanderson Farms works closely with 900 family farmers throughout the

Southeast. The company maintains a small geographical footprint in

order to guarantee fresh, quality chicken at every step in the


Sanderson Farms partners with breeder farms in areas surrounding their

hatcheries to assure the highest quality fertile hatching eggs. Twice

a week, eggs are collected from these family farms and brought to the

hatchery in climate-controlled trailers.

“We are responsible not only for the broiler flocks that will

eventually go to market, but also for the breeder birds that lay those

broiler eggs,” said Wes Hall, Division Manager of Sanderson Farms

McComb Production. “Producing chicken is a fully integrated and

continual process.”

Once at the hatchery, the hatching eggs are stored until it is time to

place them in the incubator, where they will stay until they hatch 21

days later. On average, an incubator holds over 90,000 eggs.

Chicks are vaccinated while they are still developing in their

shells.  When vaccines are administered, Sanderson Farms takes the

opportunity to inject an antibiotic to fight the ever-present bacteria

associated with natural egg delivery.  This step is the only time

anything is injected into a Sanderson Farms egg or broiler chicken.

After the chicks hatch, they are separated from their shells, counted,

immunized, and kept comfortable until they are delivered to the family

farms where they will be cared for as they grow.

Step 2: Feeding the Flock

By operating its own feed mills, Sanderson Farms maintains complete

control over what birds consume throughout their lives. At the feed

mill, raw ingredients, such as corn, soy bean meal, fat, and lime, are

mixed together, heated, and made into ready-to-eat pellets. This diet

is specially formulated by staff veterinarians and nutritionists to

ensure healthy birds and quality chicken. Just like humans, chickens

require different calorie levels and types of food for energy as they

grow. Sanderson Farms nutritionists are constantly adjusting feed

formulas so the chickens have all they need.

The feed is transported in bulk from the mill to the farms where it

will be fed to Sanderson Farms chickens.

Step 3: Hatchery to Farm

Each family farmer provides the land and invests in the necessary

buildings and equipment to grow the chickens to the company’s

expectations. Sanderson Farms supplies technical instruction, feed,

shavings, veterinary care, and poultry medication, when it is

necessary and prescribed by a veterinarian.

All vaccines and antibiotics are administered only under the direction

of Sanderson Farms Live Production Veterinarians, who are nationally

board-certified and licensed in the states in which Sanderson Farms

operates. Since our flocks are raised on the ground and not in cages,

Sanderson Farms veterinarians are very concerned about treating

diseases associated with soil, such as parasites and bacteria.

Sanderson Farms veterinarians use antibiotics to fight both classes of

disease-causing organisms.

Farms are visited weekly by Sanderson Farms staff, including

veterinarians, who make sure everything is running according to

company standards, as well as offer assistance, when needed.

“Winter and summer alike, we maintain the health of the flock every

day,” said Trent Hanegan, a Sanderson Farms family farmer in Collins,

Mississippi. “Sanderson Farms veterinarians are constantly checking on

the birds’ health. If a flock needs treatment, they’re more than

willing to get the birds what they need.”

Farmers live on the land so they are best able to care for their

flocks. On average, family farmers live within a 50-mile radius of the

Sanderson Farms hatchery. Farms typically have four to eight chicken

houses, and Sanderson Farms places from 17,000 to 31,000 chicks per

house, based upon size. These houses are climate-controlled and

protect birds from biosecurity threats and predators.

“Our animals live a very good life. We spend a lot of time and money

helping them grow and prosper the way they should,” said Garrett

McClure, a Sanderson Farms family farmer in Collins, Mississippi.

“These chickens are our livelihood, and if they don’t do well, neither

do we. We are always going to take the very best care of them.”

Step 4: Farm to Processing Plant

The only time Sanderson Farms birds are ever caged is for their own

safety during transport from the farm to the plant. The chickens

arrive on trucks and are quickly placed into the controlled

environment of the assembly line where they are humanely stunned

unconscious by a small electric current, and therefore free from pain,

before processing begins.

After first processing, the birds are chilled down, processed a

second time, and sent to be divided and/or deboned, depending upon the

intended use. At each step of processing, Sanderson Farms product is

inspected for quality, food safety, and regulatory-related concerns.

After product is packed into trays or boxes, it is weighed and a

price label is adhered to the package, when requested by the retailer.

“Sanderson Farms provides a safety supervisor on staff and monthly

safety meetings with all employees,” said Perry Hauser, Division

Manager of Sanderson Farms’ McComb Processing Plant. “A committee made

up of employees and managers meets often to discuss how we can operate

as safely as possible. The plant is cleaned every day, and our on-site

quality control department performs all the required tests to make

sure we’re meeting and exceeding USDA standards.”

Step 5: Processing Plant to Grocery Store

After the product receives its final inspection and is deemed

market-ready, it is loaded on refrigerated trucks. Prior to loading,

trailers are inspected for cleanliness and a properly functioning

refrigeration system.

Once the trailer is loaded based on delivery schedule, it is closed

with a tamper-evident seal. This seal is not broken until the product

arrives at the distribution center to ensure product safety and

wholesomeness. Most often, products are placed into the distribution

center on the same day as delivery to the grocery store, to ensure

freshness and quality.

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