Soybeans and Poultry: A Meal Match

USSEC Staff Writer

USSEC Staff Writer

U.S. Soybean Export Council

Godwin Farms Inc. – Pelham, Georgia

Nestled in the southwestern part of the Peach State, Godwin Farms Inc. produces just about everything but the sweet fruit itself. Walter Godwin grows soybeans, corn, cotton, peanuts, wheat, sorghum and pecans, and raises 50,000 chickens on his family farm in Pelham. But you won’t find a peach tree anywhere in sight.

He works closely with his father, Roger, and one hired hand on 1,500 acres. The operation was started around 1880 by Godwin’s great-great-grandfather, John K. Godwin, who was also one of the founders of Grady County. Walter Godwin is currently the fifth generation to live and farm on the family’s land.

As a farmer who produces both soybeans and chickens, Godwin understands the connection between the crop and the animal. Godwin grows approximately 300 acres of soybeans each year. After harvest, the meal from many of those beans ends up right back where the beans came from.

“We grow and store our beans on-site, then sell them to a processing plant in Georgia,” Godwin says. “After they are crushed, the meal is brought back to a poultry operation just north of us. The plant then puts the soybean meal into a feed ration for the chickens.”

Soybean meal dominates the market for protein supplements for poultry, due to its consistent nutrient content, availability and high content of crude protein. Soybean meal is the only common protein supplement without a limitation on the quantity that can be used in poultry rations.

“We use both our local soybean meal, as well as some from the Midwest, for our poultry,” Godwin says. “It is a good source of protein because of its content and digestibility.”

Just as chickens love a protein-rich diet, so too do humans. As incomes grow for people in countries across the world, especially in China and Southeast Asia, the demand for poultry as a protein also is expected to grow.

”Protein demand is going to go up in the world, and with that, the demand for soybeans will go up, too,” Godwin says. “As more countries, especially third-world countries, want more protein and better diets, they will have to increase and improve their animal feed, and soybean meal should be a component of that feed ration.”

In addition to helping feed a growing world population, he is involved in his local community. Godwin Farms participates in fundraisers each year for the Grady County Sheriff’s Department. The family farm also donates and cooks meals for wild-game suppers at their local church.

Building his family’s future is also important to Godwin. One way he does this is by making sure to use sustainable methods as he grows a high-yielding, quality crop each year. Farming has been a way of life for generations of his family, and he would like to keep it that way.

“We try to grow a profitable, safe and environmentally friendly crop and use the newest technology available to help in that endeavor,” Godwin says. “Technology helps us pick the best seed, apply more precise chemicals and minimize our fuel consumption. We are trying to do the best we can with what we have available to pave the way for the next generation.”