SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Poultry Association first began recognizing an outstanding Farm Family of the Year in 2010. This year’s honorees are Todd & Kristin Littleton from Kenton, Tenn., in Gibson County, in the central region of West Tennessee.
Todd and Kristin Littleton are the owners of Littleton Barns LLC, which operates two pullet houses for Tyson Foods. The family takes great pride in growing chickens for Tyson’s newest complex in Humboldt, Tenn. In addition to growing poultry, Todd is a third-generation row crop producer with Littleton Farms, which was started by his grandfather, Riley. Todd and his father, Ricky, currently farm 4,000 acres of land producing corn, wheat and soybeans.
Kristin works as a dental hygienist and serves as the bookkeeper for the farming operations. She is also the owner of Stillwater Market, a clothing boutique located in Kenton, Tenn. Todd and Kristin have been married for 11 years and have one daughter, Malone, who is 8 years old and an avid horse enthusiast. Malone also loves to take care of the new chicks placed at Littleton Barns. Her favorite part of their pullet operation is helping the chicks learn to drink from the drinker lines.
Littleton Barns was established in September 2019. This two-house pullet farm was the second farm built as part of the Tyson Humboldt complex. Each 60 x 600 pullet house is equipped with the latest technology in control systems which assists the grower in maintaining an optimal environment for pullet health and development. Along with the Littleton family, the farm has two employees who assist in overseeing its daily operations.
Many of the Tyson Humboldt complex of poultry farms were still in the construction phase when the Littleton’s nomination was submitted to TPA in April 2021. At the time, there were four pullet farms, three breeder farms and three broiler farms in operation, and Littleton Barns ranked at the top of these farms for performance, livability, animal well-being, and overall farm management, and still does. The Littletons and their farm team have set the standard for all current and future growers within this complex. Their willingness to share their knowledge and practices with incoming growers makes them a great part of the success within the Humboldt complex, the association noted.
The farm is always maintained in pristine condition, inside and out. The entire property is well manicured to be aesthetically pleasing as well as provide a layer of biosecurity from unwanted pests, the association said, adding that biosecurity is of utmost importance to the Tyson Humboldt complex. The Littleton family upholds every aspect of the specific guidelines outlined in Tyson’s multi-stage biosecurity program manual. Each employee of Littleton Barns has a pair of house specific footwear for each house on the farm. This footwear is not to be worn anywhere other than the designated house. Inside each house, there is a dry bleach foot bath directly in front of the entrance door. Additionally, a mat with a disinfectant and anti-microbial is at each doorway. Todd keeps extra biosecurity PPE in each control room should an approved visitor not bring their own. A designated “clean” area is highlighted on the floor of each control room. Individuals may only enter the clean area if they are fully suited with the proper PPE.
Unique to the Humboldt complex, Littleton Barns is the first to implement an everyday pullet feeding program and has played an integral role in the development of this program. Being on the frontlines of the operations, Tyson management and service team members rely heavily on the input of their growers to aide in overcoming any challenges presented by this new method. Their willingness to adjust and make changes as proposed has allowed the breeder department to obtain the necessary data to create a successful everyday feeding program.
By properly managing the ventilation and drinker systems within the house, Todd ensures the litter remains dry and the air quality is ideal for the birds. Todd and his team address any equipment malfunctions immediately before any drastic impact on the flock can occur. Between flocks, the Littleton Barns team goes above and beyond the standard clean out procedures. Any litter removed from the house is properly stored or spread as fertilizer within an appropriate amount of time to prevent any environmental concerns.
The Littletons have implemented several practices within their poultry operation to ensure minimal impact on the surrounding environment. To aide in erosion control, levees were put in place to slow down storm water and to help conserve local streams and rivers from potential soil infiltration. Likewise, rock and sod were placed on the sides of the poultry houses to protect the soil from storm water run-off. To further protect the surrounding water systems, this pullet farm disposes of mortality by incineration. The recycled waste material from the incinerator is applied to the cropland, ensuring minimal risk of environmental contamination to surrounding soil and water systems.
The Littletons also practice forward thinking in efforts to do their part in the conservation of land and environmental systems. To preserve the land surrounding the poultry houses, Todd has implemented a hay program for a local cattle farm. Native grasses are grown and harvested as part of this program. They have recently added pollinators to their conservation efforts. The beehive is located in a safe area to the side of the native grass forages.
Todd and Kristin are active members of Bethpage Baptist Church where they both teach Sunday school and regularly participate in various church activities. Todd has served on the Gibson County Farm Bureau Board since 2006 and currently holds the position of chairman. He sits on the Gibson County Farm Services Agency board and has served on the Gibson County commission board as commissioner for district 16 for the past seven years. As county commissioner, Todd is on the budget committee, correctional complex committee, and agenda committee. He is also on the agriculture advisory board for the Gibson County University of Tennessee Extension service.
In addition to their public service, the Littletons are gold level sponsors of the Gibson County Junior Livestock Association. Their support of this program allows children in grades 4-12 to explore agriculture and develop invaluable life skills through exhibition of poultry, cattle, sheep, goats, and hogs. They have spoken to local elementary students on the daily life and importance of poultry farmers. Todd and Kristin are a vital part of the Gibson County community, particularly the agriculture community. Their commitment to agriculture has not gone unnoticed.
In 2008, Todd was chosen to participate in the AgStar Leadership program in West Tennessee. AgStar is a program designed to enhance the leadership skills of current and future agricultural leaders. In 2011, the Littletons were recognized as the Gibson County Young Farmers of The Year. And in 2015, the Littletons received the Tennessee Farm Bureau Young Farmers Environmental Stewardship Award.
TPA adds that it proudly recognizes the Littletons as the 2021 TPA Farm Family of the Year. The association also congratulates the team members from Tyson Humboldt who made the nomination, including Senior Manager Live Production Mark Harmon; Breeder Manager Blaine Cultra; Animal Welfare Specialist Katelyn Barker; and the Littleton’s Service Tech, Jake Heglar.