The West Family -Sanderson Farms Growers
A lot has changed since 1996, when Joe West first began growing chickens for Sanderson Farms. Today, more than two decades later, he still has four broiler houses in Bassfield, Mississippi and remembers a time when houses did not have the technology that they do today.
“You can just about keep up with everything on your phone now,” said West. “I still get up and go over to my houses during the day and night. I’m still using some of the old farming ways, but it has worked out for me over the years.”
West has two sons, John David and Rod, who each built four poultry houses and have been growing chickens for Sanderson Farms since 2012. While they grew up learning to farm under their father’s leadership, the West brothers have very different mindsets about the technology in their chicken houses. However, something this family can agree on is that working alongside each other every day is enjoyable.
“Everyone shares the burden, everyone works together and we treat it as if it is one big farm,” said John David West. “We share the work, we share the land and we share the equipment.” Although the family has three separate farms on paper, this family works together to ensure their farms are successful and their birds are healthy. According to John David, not a day goes by without one member of the West family checking on another family member’s farm.
Even though Joe’s houses are over 23 years old, they keep all 12 poultry houses up-to-date with the latest technology by constantly making improvements to ensure their farms are as efficient and effective as possible. In 2015, solar panels and LED lighting was installed in all of the West family’s houses, which reduced electricity costs by nearly 50 percent. “We couldn’t believe how effective those solar panels were,” said John David. “We have had them now for going on four years, and they have made all the difference.”
The West family takes pride in growing chickens for Sanderson Farms and helping feed a growing world. “It gives you a sense of pride to know you are feeding people,” said Rod. “Another great thing about this job is my dad was doing it and he passed on his knowledge to me, and I will pass my knowledge to my daughter in the future.”