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APEA Honors 2020 Top Poultry Family

By Caleb Hicks

Scott and Shea Shelley of Henry County were honored in December as the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association’s 2020 Poultry Farm Family of the Year in recognition of their outstanding accomplishments in performance, public service involvement and environmental stewardship.

This year’s announcement was delayed because of COVID-19.

Scott was 19 when he started farming with 30 row-crop acres in Newville; that was in ’96. Today, he works roughly 800 acres of cropland, has six poultry houses and about 50 head of commercial cattle.

“Receiving this award is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Scott said. “We’ve definitely been blessed by being a part of the poultry industry. What we do, we try to do well.

“You don’t always get rewarded for your efforts,” he said. “We have pride in what we do. It means a lot to be recognized for the number of hours we all put in on the farm.”

The Shelleys have plenty of hands to help on the farm with five children running around. From left are Haisten, Sydney, Scott, Shea with baby Henry, Hudson and Olivia.

APEA Associate Director Ray Hilburn congratulated the Shelleys on the achievement.

“The Shelleys represent what it means to be a hardworking family in this industry,” APEA’s associate director said. “They have all the qualities of an outstanding poultry farm family and are much deserving of this award. We appreciate the impact they have and the values they bring to our table.”

In 2016, Scott and Shea built their first four poultry houses and were named Grower of the Year by Wayne Farms two years in a row. They added two more houses to their operation in 2019.

“It didn’t take us long to figure we needed two more,” Scott said.

Chris Henderson, who is area broiler manager for Wayne Farms in Dothan and Union Springs said he is proud to have the Shelleys as Wayne Farms growers.

“It’s an honor to be a manager for the Shelleys,” he said. “To them, their operation is their livelihood. They take great care in raising chicken while also being very family oriented.”

As the head bookkeeper for the farm, Shea said she is proud of their work as a farming family.

“When I’m walking the (poultry) houses, I think about what goes into raising animals and crops to feed the world and our family,” she said. “We are a family operation, and the kids love to be a part of that.”

Scott and Shea Shelley were honored as APEA's 2020 Poultry Farm Family of the Year in December. From left are APEA CEO Johnny Adams, Shea and Scott Shelley and Wayne Farms area broiler manager Chris Henderson.

The Shelleys attend Old Zion Baptist Church in Abbeville and have five children. When their oldest daughter, 18-year-old Olivia, isn’t in class at Wallace Community College in nearby Dothan, she stays busy baking cakes and goodies for her own small baking business. Twins Haisten and Hudson are 15 and help maintain the poultry houses and assist on the farm. The youngest children, Sydney, 3, and 4-month-old Henry spend their days at home with Shea waiting for their turn to one day help on the farm.

For Scott, farming means more than a paycheck.

“There’s a lot of hard work in both poultry and row crops,” he said. “A paycheck can be made a lot easier than what we do, but seeing my family be a part of our farm means so much to me. Agriculture just has to be in your blood.”

Ultimately, Shea said, there’s more to the couple’s success than hard work. “Our whole place — the chickens, the cows, the row crops, the children — God’s over all of it,” she said. “A lot of prayer goes into it, but at the end of the day, all the glory goes to Him.”

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