range and Chip Strickler from Rocco talked us in to building a turkey house so we could raise them in the winter and then we built a new starting house and two more finishing houses and we started raising more turkeys and then we ended up building two more grow out houses on the hill and two more starting houses. And we’re basically that’s the way we’ve been for probably the last fifteen years.
MC: What do you mean when you say they were range? Like free range?
FM: Outside, no buildings.
MC: And how long did you do that for?
FM: Oh gracious, we did that for, what you did there is you tried to get two bunches in the summer. You’d put a bunch on range about now and then you would put a bunch out on range to try and hit the Thanksgiving market. That was your, that was the key.
MC: How much is a bunch?
FM: Back then 5,000 was a pretty big bunch on range.
MC: Okay, alright.
FM: 2-5,000. Matter of fact 5,000 might be pretty big. I think we did 2,000 and try to get 2 bunches a year.
MC: Were there many other people raising free range?
FM: Some. It was, you know, the poultry industry was just getting going then. Raising birds in confinement was all new. I mean poultry 50 years ago was kind of like it is in Vietnam and other places where everybody has 10 chickens and that’s how they get their eggs and then they slaughter the birds for meat. Raising birds in confinement, Charles Wampler and Chip Strickler probably pioneered that.
MC: You think?
FM: Yeah. That’s how Rockingham County kind of got its name for poultry capital of the world. So that’s kind of interesting.
MC: Okay. What, are you familiar with any poultry industry outside of the country, like you mentioned.
FM: Somewhat. I’m on the Board of Directors of the Virginia Poultry Growers Coop. so I’m pretty familiar with the poultry industry more in the country. I have toured cooper farms in Ohio, I have toured Michigan turkey in Michigan. I’ve toured Cargill which used to be Rocco. I’ve toured holly farms which is now Tyson. I would say that I know more about the industry right here than I do anywhere else, but I’m kind of aware of it.