Monday, May 8, 2017

Jim and Linda Davis Named 2017 Bradley County Farm Family of the Year

Mr. Jim and Mrs. Linda Davis, the 2017 Bradley County Farm Family of the Year.
Sunlit dust peppers up on the drive in, creating a cloud of dirt and debris along a good-size gravel driveway.  As the sun attempts to pierce through the pine canopy above, a bright metal rooster welcomes visitors, and directs them to turn right at the fork in which the rooster guards.  Passing through the first gate, the canopy opens up into a tranquil, lush, green field with a ranch home in the background.  A few chicken houses are noticeable to the left, and a nice looking herd of cattle come romping past the roadside on the drive up to the house.  Situated just south of Highway 63, in between Warren and Hermitage, this is the home and farm of Mr. and Mrs. Jim Davis, the 2017 Bradley County Farm Family of the Year.

Mr. Jim and his wife Linda Davis took just a few hours out of their day to sit down with to discuss their operation and show us around their beautiful property.  Currently working and operating on a total of 186 acres, the Davis's are set to represent Bradley County as its candidate in the upcoming selection of District Farm Family of the Year.

The home of Mr. and Mrs. Davis seen from a distance.
Jim and Linda's history in poultry farming in Bradley County dates back to 2001, when they entered into the poultry business.  However, they've been farming or ranching for nearly 40 years.  Both of them had previous careers working for the Department of Human Services which spanned over 25 years for Jim and 28 for Linda.  However, they were looking for a business to get into which could carry on through the years after their careers at DHS were complete.  Mr. Davis says he had for many years been interested in going into the poultry business, so this current farm is a completion of a dream.

The couple began renting land to grow tomatoes in 1980, and sold them via the tomato auction.  After purchasing 60 acres of land they started cattle ranching, and continued to grow tomatoes.  At the time, the two were working for DHS full time, and farmed after work and on weekends.  The tomato farming ceased around 2000, when the pair switched over to raising watermelons till 2005.

Mr. and Mrs. Davis pictured with a number of their pullet houses in the background.
Their farming operation turned towards poultry in 2001.  Originally they were contracted with Con Agra Foods, which later sold to Pilgrim's Pride.  After having weathered the storm that came with Pilgrim's Pride's bankruptcy in 2008, the Davis's were able to find a new home with Morris Hatchery.  Renovations began in 2009 to convert the Davis's broiler houses on their main property to pullet houses for Morris Hatchery.  Not long afterwards OK Farms purchased Morris.

Speaking of the transitions and trials of working through the issues brought forward by Pilgrim's Pride's bankruptcy, Mr. Davis said, "the Lord blessed us with a contract with Morris Hatchery for hatching eggs and later for pullets, which enabled us to get birds back in all of the houses on both farms."

Mr. and Mrs. Davis pictured at the entry of their property.
OK delivers the chicks to the Davis's Farm houses when the chicks are one day old.  After 22 weeks they are moved to breeder houses, at which point the chickens are kept to hatch eggs through 60 to 65 weeks of age.  These eggs are shipped in boxes of 300, quite a delicate process, to OK's facilities in Mexico where they are hatched and placed in broiler houses.

Today, their operation includes 4 pullet houses of 11,000 pullets each and 3 breeder houses with 10,500 hens and 1000 roosters each.  They also currently have 75 head of mixed breed cattle.  One particular bull, name Booger, happened to be somewhat camera happy with reporters on the scene.

At the Davis's Farm, their cattle are marketed through the local cattle auction or to individuals.

Jim and Linda Davis attend the Hermitage Methodist Church.

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