Blair and Julie Shockley - Laurel, Del.
Blair Shockley is one of those growers who seems born to do the work. He first raised chickens in 2002 in houses he rented from his grandfather, then stepped into work for Perdue Farms in 2005 in research and growout roles. He joined Northeast Agri as a sales representative in 2014, and a year later, invested in two newly built chicken houses on that same land he'd raised chickens on a dozen years before. "I built these houses how I would build them for anybody who asked my opinion," Shockley said. "To tear down houses my grandfather bought and paid for, and then we started our own journey â€“ it's a sentimental thing."
Blair and his wife, Julie, built the houses to supplement the family income while allowing her to spend more time at home raising their children. Like many chicken growers, home and farm are very close â€“ across a country lane, in their case. Blair's father also helps care for the farm's flocks, 78,800 birds at a time.
"For me, it's the challenge. I like the competitiveness," Blair Shockley said about what drew him back to raising chickens. "Every flock, when it comes in, you never know what birds you're going to be given. There's good chicks and bad chicks, but it's what we can make out of the chicken at the end."
He attributes success he's had as a grower to time invested in the task. "The chickens are living below your sensors," Shockley said. "It takes going in, multiple trips, multiple times a day, to actually see and get it right, to make sure the chickens have what they need. It's time â€“ it's all time."