Spotlight on BLJ Farm and King Ranch in Timpson, Texas
Brian King of BLJ Farm and King Ranch in Timpson, Texas, out of our Nacogdoches complex is featured because of the pride he takes in producing the best chickens possible on a well-run, efficient farm.
On the 200 acres of King's combined farm he produces 819,000 broiler chickens out of nine 40' x 400' houses in five flocks per year. He also runs 40 head of cattle on his land.
"He does a terrific job," says Gail Anthony, Pilgrim's service tech. "When I come to visit he's always there and everything's done perfectly."
Building and Growing the Farm
King purchased BLJ Farm (which stands for Brian, Laurie and Justin, the King family members) in 2003. He retrofitted the existing five chicken houses with the latest, most efficient technology. When an adjoining farm with four chicken houses went on the market in 2005, King bought it and made upgrades to that as well.
"I put in tunnel ventilation systems, upgraded the generators on both farms, updated the technology, installed new fans and changed the lighting in the houses," King says. "We changed it up quite a bit."
King has been in the chicken business all of his life. As a child, he and his parents lived on his grandparents' farm. Grandparents Roy and Francis Ramsey had chicken houses on the farm, and King grew up as a farm hand.
"I worked for my granddad and grandmother," remembers King. "I helped them in their chicken houses in the mornings before going to school and in evenings when I got in, as well as on weekends. I was dumping (placing) baby chicks for them, cleaning out the house and other chores. I was their farm labor.
"I did enjoy the work. It taught me how to work, and once you get used to working, it just gets in your blood."
The Push of the Work Ethic and Pull of the Family
His work ethic shows on his farm and in his production numbers, notes Anthony. "You can see he's taking pride in his work and wants to do the best job. It really shows on his farm," she says.
Following high school, King moved to Carthage, Texas, to attend college. He put himself through school by working at Avian Farms, a primary breeder company. He worked there until 1996.
King and his wife Laurie moved to Pittsburg, Texas, when they landed jobs at Pilgrim's Pride headquarters. Brian was a service tech during his time there. Laurie, still with Pilgrim's, is currently the human resource manager for live production.
While in Pittsburg, the couple had a son, Justin, and they felt pulled toward their own roots, longing for the support of living near extended family. In 2003 they decided to move back to Timpson and buy their own farm. King is now a farmer full time. Having grown up on the family farm, surrounded by the chicken business, Justin is following the family tradition and is majoring in animal science at Stephen F. Austin State University.
Rising with the Chickens
The chickens start their days at 6 am when the automated lights pop on. King checks on the chickens first thing in the morning. He goes through the houses making sure the feed and water lines are clear and everything is working properly. He checks on his cows. Then he sets about repairing and maintaining the property and machinery. Whether it's brush hogging, keeping grass cut, or maintaining the sanitary conditions of the houses, King says there is always something to do on a farm. He also tends a small garden.
"Really, I love everything about farming," King says. "I really can't think of anything else I'd rather do. I enjoy raising the chickens, I enjoy being outside instead of inside, I'm partial to being hands-on with my work, and I like the freedom that comes with it."
The Kings have spent their lives in the poultry business, as farm hands, corporate employees and now they have invested in their own farm. Gail Anthony observes, "All Pilgrim's growers are independent business owners who contract with Pilgrim's. This means each grower has made a significant investment in poultry farming."
"The chicken business has been good to us," says King, noting the investment has been a worthy one.