Welcome back to another exciting audit with Where Food Comes From (WFCF)! In the second installment of our audit series, we head to Northern Indiana, a state known for farmland and fast cars, and in our case, the long standing family-owned Miller Poultry brand. They are one of the few in the industry that is integrated through all aspects of raising their birds – from hens laying eggs to full grown chickens ready to head to town. On this trip we had the opportunity to sit down with James Lambright, one of the farmers raising chickens for Miller Poultry, to learn more about how he and his family go about raising happy and healthy birds. But first, let’s discuss how Miller Poultry operates!
Getting to know Miller Poultry
As we mentioned above, Miller Poultry is known as a vertically integrated poultry company, which means they have complete control of their entire supply chain. Miller Poultry owns its breeder flocks, which is the stage where the eggs are laid prior to heading off to the hatchery. At the hatchery, as you might expect, the eggs are incubated, hatched, sorted and then delivered to a broiler farm, which is what James Lambright operates (broiler is the standard term for any bird raised for meat). Once the broiler chickens are approximately 42 days of age, which is when they are fully grown, they are transported from the farm to a processing facility in town.
Farms like Lambright’s provide day-to-day care and management of the chickens with close oversight from Miller Poultry, whom provides all feed and any other necessary products to ensure the health and wellbeing of the birds. Miller Poultry also sends team members to each of their partner farms on a weekly basis to assess the flocks. While there, they observe feed, water, litter conditions, air quality and bird health, and work with the farm on any necessary adjustments to their management to ensure the chickens are thriving.
Behind the Scenes with James and Miller Poultry
Family man, entrepreneur, wood-worker, and partner farm for Miller Poultry, James Lambright is quite the successful and busy man. James has been raising chickens for Miller Poultry for over a decade, and loves the opportunity it has provided for him. He certainly enjoys the time working from home to provide for, and spend time with, his family. But, James doesn’t limit himself to just raising poultry on his farm, as he also raises cattle and sheep, and tends to a small orchard. Aside from being a farmer, James also owns a woodworking business making custom furniture and cabinets…a busy man indeed.
During our time with James he shared a memorable story about an interaction in a local super market with a shopper. As James was shopping, he noticed a woman trying to decide which chicken brand she should select. She read the labels carefully on both packages and placed the Miller Poultry chicken in her cart. James smiled and kindly approached her to thank her, while explaining that he raised chickens for Miller Poultry and, in turn, she thanked him for providing such a great product. This kind of interaction is a perfect example of the strong community ties to the farm and the passion that James has for the work that he does. James knows that Miller Poultry cares deeply for their employees, neighbors, and community, and is proud to be a part of the Miller Poultry family and brand.
Our WFCF team audits the Lambright farm to the Certified Organic and Global Animal Partnership 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating (GAP) standards. These programs are evident at farms across the Miller Poultry supply chain, as they take animal management and care very seriously, which is evident in their dedication to these third-party verification standards. In addition, Miller Poultry also utilizes other auditing services to ensure their chickens meet a very specific set of requirements, such as No Anti-biotics Ever, the National Chicken Council standard, and the Non-GMO Project standard for feed.
Our Story, Our Choices
Each time you go to the grocery store you are able to choose what food to bring home to your family. Knowledge is power, and when you purchase third-party verified chicken products, like the Miller Poultry brand, this gives you the opportunity to support the hardworking farms you can trust and believe in.
We’re happy that you could virtually come along with us this week to Northern Indiana to learn about James and Miller Poultry. Miller Poultry encourages their customers to share their experiences with their brand. So, if you’ve recently purchased their products, be sure to give them a shout! They’d love to hear from you because they only achieve their goal through their customers. If you want to learn more about where you can purchase verified foods or learn more about our programs, visit us at www.wherefoodcomesfrom.com. And, as always, be sure to keep an eye out on our blog for more exciting stories along our audit trail!