As a teen, I never dreamed that I would become a fifth-generation Jones County farmer. My experiences began on the family farm, which was begun in earnest in the late 1940s by my grandfather after purchasing a registered bull, as people in the Jones County area were shifting from row cropping to cattle. My family’s history in farming for a profit came when my grandfather purchased a registered Hereford bull to improve the genetics of the grade cows. This was the first registered bull in the community, and farmers from miles around would bring their milk cows to be bred to the registered bull.
With a start of about 10 cows and one bull, the family farm began to grow, as my father and uncle helped my grandfather with various farming chores. As years passed and my grandfather aged, my dad and uncle managed the cattle, and the farm became known as “Mauldin Farms,” focusing on registered Polled Hereford cattle. As a child and teen, I worked on the farm bush hogging, hauling hay, tending to cattle and various other farm chores. As the head of cattle increased, we began cleaning out the neighbors’ chicken houses for the free fertilizer to help cut farm costs. This operation helped the poultry farmer by getting rid of used litter and cleaning out the farm before a new batch of chickens arrived, and it greatly assisted my family by decreasing fertilizer costs. This was my first experience with chicken houses and the poultry industry.
Upon graduating from West Jones High School in 1990, I enrolled at Jones County Junior College majoring in poultry science. The poultry industry was emerging as the primary commodity in my area. Before leaving for college, between my sophomore and junior years, I worked as an intern in the hatchery at Wayne Farms in Laurel, which added to my knowledge and interest in the poultry industry.
In 1992, I continued my education at Mississippi State University and furthered my studies in the poultry industry. This was also the year my family invested in their own broiler operation, consisting of nine broiler houses. While attending Mississippi State, I continued working on the farm with my family on weekends, summers and holidays. Through these work experiences, I began to realize my love for being outdoors and the fulfillment of being with my dad, brother, uncle and cousin. In 1993, my family expanded the poultry farm by adding three more broiler houses.
Graduating from Mississippi State University in May 1994, I took a position with B. C. Rogers Poultry in Morton as a service tech. I married my wife, Sabrina, in July of 1994, and lived and worked in Newton and Scott counties, servicing chickens for three years. During this time, my older brother built a four-house broiler farm, which gave my family a total of 16 chicken houses. After seeing my brother follow in my family’s footsteps and be at home in Jones County, I realized that I really wanted to be self-employed and at home with my family to support my efforts. I was confident that through my experiences gained through working on both the family cattle and chicken farm and at B. C. Rogers I could manage my own farm.
In 1997, I moved back to Jones County and bought an old three-house broiler farm. My wife and I had our first daughter, and I diligently set out to be a successful farmer. In 2001, I closed the doors on the old farm, was blessed with a second daughter, and built a modern four-house broiler farm.
In 2007, Jon Kilgore recommended me to the Jones County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and as a district Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award contestant. Since that time, I have served on various Farm Bureau committees, advocating for the poultry farmer. I currently serve as chair of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Poultry Commodity Advisory Committee, which allows me the opportunity to be a voice in agriculture and promote the Mississippi poultry farmer.
Today, I operate my farm and oversee my father’s poultry farm. I continue to draw from my experiences on the family farm, my education, past work experiences and the relationship made with Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation to promote the family farmer and prosper in the poultry business.