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InFocus: Training participants visit birds, fish and race cars

Progressive Dairyman Editor Walt Cooley Published on 06 February 2015

PDPW attendees

Dairy owners and managers from around the country learned about how to improve their hiring practices and build better teams at the most recent PDPW Managers Academy held in Charlotte, North Carolina. More than 80 dairy professionals from 17 states participated in the three-day training.



The second day of the event was a bus tour with three stops. Attendees toured the Atlantic Caviar and Sturgeon Company and learned about sturgeon caviar production. The fish farm is operated by 10 employees and is presently the only producer of Russian sturgeon caviar in North America.


Production of the caviar takes five to six years, from the time the farm receives the fish as fingerlings until the adult females are harvested. One mature fish will produce 2 to 3 pounds of caviar, which in today’s prices is worth $800 to $1,000 in value, depending on its quality.

The farm also raises the male sturgeon to adulthood. A mature fish, male or female, can bring $180 in carcass value. The farm raises about 20,000 fish at any given time of the year.



Later in the day, the group’s two tour buses rolled into Porter Farms, a 900-acre swine, poultry and beef farm near Concord, North Carolina. Attendees ate lunch in the family’s on-farm agritourism pavilion, where they host weddings and other social events.

Over a traditional southern BBQ pork lunch, Tommy Porter Jr., the farm’s owner, and his wife, Vicky, explained the family’s rationale for getting into agritourism and event-hosting.

Tommy and Vicki Porter

They both said it was the best way to keep all of their children, especially their daughters, and their spouses involved in the farm. Events typically occur over weekends, and the family does all of the preparation and clean up after the events themselves.

“This farm is 100 percent family-operated,” Tommy said.



After lunch and homemade ice cream, the group toured the family’s broiler layer facility. Their egg-laying barns can produce up to 38,000 fertilized eggs per day during peak production. Tyson Foods owns the birds and the eggs, which will be hatched and raised elsewhere.

The Porters are paid per dozen eggs shipped. Despite their success with brides and the birds, the Porters still say the majority of their income comes from the hog operation, which is capable of shipping more than 900 weaned pigs per week.


The final bus stop of the second day was at the Richard Petty Driving Experience at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Attendees were divided into teams of eight and loaned their own go-kart to drive around the turns of a mini-race track laid out on the infield of the stadium’s speedway.

After a 20-minute practice session, a 45-minute race commenced in which teams competed against each other to see how many laps they could complete in the allotted time. Every team member had to drive at least one lap, ensuring there were multiple driver exchanges in the track’s mini-pit row. Click here for more coverage from this event. PD

PHOTO 1: All of the academy’s attendees participated in a team-building exercise at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

PHOTOS 2 & 3: Atlantic Caviar and Sturgeon Company raises 20,000 sturgeon to harvest their eggs as caviar. The production cycle for the fish is five to six years.

PHOTOS 4 & 5: Tommy Porter Jr., and his wife, Vicky, explain their family’s hog, poultry, beef and agritourism business at their farm near Concord, North Carolina. The family’s poultry unit can produce up to 38,000 fertilized eggs per day for Tyson Foods. All photos by Ray Merritt.