09/09/2011

WHITE OAKS PASTURES: GEORGIA’S FIRST FREE-RANGE POULTRY ABATTOIR

What type of business comes to mind when you think of an entrepreneur? Here in southwest Georgia, we think of food! Our region is rich with entrepreneurial activity, and our companies have become quite innovative, humane and green in their processes. Agribusiness and innovation are key to southwest Georgia’s economic future, and you might be surprised to learn just how many companies are feeling eager to filll the niche and provide specialty food products.  Southwest Georgia produces many delicious and unique products, including: cheese made from goat milk and from cow milk, all-natural beef, barbeque sauce, alligator, and the latest specialty food product—free range chicken.

White Oak Pastures, located in Bluffton, GA, between Clay and Early counties, is one of the locally owned businesses committed to providing innovative and all-natural products to its customers.  It has been a family operated cattle ranch since 1866, and five generations later, the current owner, Will Harris continues to advance and transform the facilities.  In 2006, he built a 6,000 square foot, zero waste, USDA-inspected and -approved beef processing plant—one of only two in the country! The cattle here are born, raised, and processed in the USA.  They roam around and graze on the 1000 acre farm, and are treated and harvested in a humane manner.

White Oak Pastures’s pledge to innovation is evident in their recent addition of the on-farm Poultry Abattoir.  It swung doors wide open on August 24 and is connected to the beef plant by a short walkway.  This facility, the only USDA certified in the South East, processes free-range chicken, turkey, geese, guineas, duck, and rabbit—all grown freely on the 1000 acre farm.  The poultry abattoir can add positions for up to 30 new employees and grow the already existing 61 person White Oak Pasture family.  Talk about commitment to the local community!

White Oak Pastures is dedicated to being an environmentally sustainable farm. Not only do they provide an all-natural product but they also take care of the land itself.  The animals are rotated through the pastures using the Serengeti Grazing Model, which cycles grazing patterns to avoid damaging the terrain.

Next time you want an all-natural, home-grown product, you can come on down to Bluffton and visit, or go to your local Publix or Whole Foods Market.  The grass-fed beef is so tasty that it even won the grand prize at the 2008 “Flavor of Georgia” Awards.

So, when you think of home-grown products, know that southwest Georgia is staying ahead of the curve in producing and distributing food that is good in taste and good for you!

Rhonda G. Geiger
Senior Project Manager, Existing Industry and Regional Recruitment
Region 10, Southwest Georgia

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