June 7, 2024
 |
Chicken Grower Terry White
By Linda Cicoira

An Eastern Shore of Virginia chicken farmer was listed among a dozen growers honored recently by the Delmarva Chicken Association. All 12 were said to be “exemplary” at raising broilers.

The local grower, Terry White, oversees flocks of 372,600 birds at a time across eight chicken houses on the family farm near Parksley. He has been in the business for 41 years and contracts with Tyson. It’s a big operation. White’s son operates another eight houses there.

“When I started raising chickens, I thought it was the greatest thing I ever did,” White said. “It’s something different every day. You’re working for yourself. You walk out your back door; you don’t have to drive to work. It’s pretty awesome.”

There are 1,213 chicken growers on the Delmarva Peninsula. The association says each has an important role in the $4.4 billion chicken community’s industry.

White started with 16,000 birds. Before that, the Saxis native grew up helping in his father’s drywall-hanging business. His father also operated two chicken houses for a side income.

“Having worked through a technological revolution in how feed, water, and fresh air at comfortable temperatures are provided to broiler chickens,” White says the biggest and most labor-saving tech he has seen “has been nipple drinkers.”

“You couldn’t do a farm this size with two people if it were all manual,” he said. “I mean, you’d be working 22 hours a day.”

     White also credited his longtime farm manager, Elder Ramirez, for playing a major role in the farm’s day-to-day operations. “He treats it like it’s his … farm,” White said with admiration.

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