The Garner Family

Nearly three decades ago, William “Billy” Garner, and his wife, Mary Lou, spoke with a neighbor who had just entered the poultry business. After hearing about their neighbor’s positive experience with the industry, the Garners decided it was time for Billy to stop making his time-consuming, two-hour commute to work each day, and instead, they researched building a poultry farm so that he could work from home.

During their planning phase, the Garners grew interested in working for Sanderson Farms specifically after speaking with other farmers who said the company was one of the best to work for in the industry. Once their minds were made up, the Garners built a two-house breeder farm in the beginning of 1993, and by June of that year, they received their first flock of birds.

The Garner family quickly developed a passion for farming and proceeded to raise 29 flocks of breeder hens for Sanderson Farms over the 28 years that they were growers for the company. “My experience with Sanderson Farms was as promised,” said Garner. “They are a good company to grow for.”

Over the years, the Garners have seen quite a few advancements in the poultry industry. “Technology has changed quite a bit since I got into the chicken business,” said Garner. “I think one of my first things was to add cool cells, which was a big thing. It made it a lot easier on me, and on the chickens as well, and before that, it was challenging to keep houses the correct temperature.”

With two adult sons, the Garners hold fond memories of raising their children on the farm. “They would play football on Friday nights, and then on Saturday mornings, they would hit the chicken houses picking up eggs,” said Garner.

Through helping on the farm, Garner believes his children learned about responsibility. Thankfully, his passion for farming was passed down to his children, and his son, Lance, now owns a Sanderson Farms pullet farm of his own.

“Collecting eggs and maintaining breeder houses is a 365-days-a-year kind of job,” said Mary Lou Garner. “For Christmas, that’s what we did. We would go to the chicken houses as a family and pick up eggs.”

For Garner, the aspect of farming that he will miss most in retirement is the camaraderie with other growers and Sanderson Farms’ flock supervisors. “It’s been a nice 28 years of growing chickens with them,” said Garner. “I’m the kind of person that likes to joke around a little bit and, most of the time, everything was lovely, they did their job and I did mine. We got along well.”

After so many years with the company, the Garners formed close relationships with other growers and Sanderson Farms employees. They were passionate about their career and enjoyed connecting with others in the business.

“The Garners were really good growers that performed well, and I’m going to miss coming out to their farm,” said Nick Smith, breeder-hatchery manager for Sanderson Farms’ Hazlehurst, Mississippi production division. “Their good performance was attributed to the fact that they were very detailed in record keeping, and I appreciated that.”