We were thrilled to have the opportunity to sit down with Joey Rhodes to talk about his lifelong experience in the Georgia poultry industry. Allen interviewed Joey on his broiler farm- the same farm where his family grew eggs commercially in the 70s. This special place sits adjacent to the house Joey grew up in, where he raised his own children as well.
Check out this video to get an inside look on the life of a commercial poultry grower.
Joey grew up working on his family’s poultry farm, which was extremely successful in its private label egg production and sales. When he left for college in the early 1980s he swore he’d never go back to the poultry industry… but we can clearly see how that worked out! Joey was drawn back into poultry farming by an exciting opportunity to grow broilers in 2013.
Of course, Joey’s triumphs as a farmer didn’t come free of major setbacks. He remembers the huge cholesterol scare of the 1980s and how it impacted the poultry industry across America. In that time, groups like the American Heart Association recommended (based on what is now recognized as dubious reasoning) that adults eat only three eggs or fewer per week to maintain healthy blood-cholesterol levels. Joey recollects how this crushed farms like his family’s, many of which had to shut down for good due to a sudden lack of demand.
On the flip side, Joey was also around to experience the 30% depreciation of the U.S. dollar against other major currencies in 1971. This occurred because of the U.S.’s lack of sufficient gold reserves, and caused agricultural products to be more competitive in overseas markets. Exports and domestic prices rose, and Joey’s family as well as other egg producers thrived.
Since 2013, Joey has been happily growing broilers on the same egg farm his family had to close decades ago. The biggest change he noticed since returning to the poultry industry? Technology, of course! On his family’s farm in the 70s, Joey remembers having two purposes for technology: turning off the water and lights automatically. Now, Joey’s houses are almost entirely run by computers.
At the time of filming in 2021, Joey was beginning to grow his first flock of antibiotic-free (ABF) broilers. Joey expressed his lack of concern for this transition, saying “If you take care of their basic needs, they should be healthy.” We at Southland agree- healthy, profitable flocks are entirely possible in the antibiotic-free poultry industry, especially when natural substances like probiotics and vitamins are available to keep birds performing their best.
Allen finished his interview with Joey by asking him how much longer he plans to grow poultry. “As long as I’m able,” Joey replied with a smile. Joey just loves seeing the birds grow. Although he admits the life of a poultry farmer is time-consuming, he wouldn’t change a thing.
Our team at Southland and Poultry Biosecurity are so appreciative of farmers like Joey. Your dedication to growing poultry (or whatever you grow, for that matter!) helps us put food on the table for our families, and we cannot thank you enough for that.
Want to learn more about commercial poultry farming? Check out our whole PBS video library on YouTube. If you have any questions or requests for future PBS videos, please reach out to me at Allen@SouthlandOrganics.com.