Poultry Industry News

Butterball Names New Exec for Live Operations

GARNER, NC. — Butterball LLC announced on Feb. 1 that Vernon Felts, was promoted to vice president of live operations. He succeeds Walter ‘Gator’ Pelletier, who recently retired from the role in 2023.

Felts joined Butterball with Pelletier in 2006 following the acquisition of Maxwell Farms. Butterball explained that Felts’ longevity with the company and lengthy career in nutrition and farm management uniquely qualified him for the vice president of live operations role.

“I look forward to being responsible for the production of all of Butterball’s turkeys nationwide,” Felts said. “I’m most looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that come with supporting and leading a wonderful team of experienced, industry-leading live operations team members.”

Felts will work out of Butterball’s Goldsboro, NC, office.

He is a graduate of Virginia Polytechnical Institute and State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology, a master’s degree in poultry science and a PhD in animal science with a focus on poultry nutrition.

“Vernon brings a significant amount of expertise and professionalism to our live operations division,” said Jay Jandrain, chief executive officer. “His leadership is outstanding, and I’m confident he will continue building a best-in-class program. We will miss Gator as a part of the leadership team, but we’re happy he will remain a board member. Retaining that continuity will prove beneficial to Butterball.”

Felts sits on the Agricultural Advisory Board at University of Mount Olive in North Carolina, serves as a board member for the National Turkey Federation and is a member of the US Poultry and Egg Association Foundation Research Advisory Committee. He also served as an adjunct assistant professor in the poultry science department at North Carolina State University from 2005 to 2021.

During his retirement, Pelletier will remain a member of Butterball’s board of directors as a Goldsboro Milling Co. representative.

Pelletier led North Carolina’s turkey growing operations until 2015, when he became head of Butterball’s live operations nationwide.

“Without a doubt, I’ll miss spending time daily with the leadership team (at Butterball) and the entire live operations team,” Pelletier said. “They are great people to work with. However, I’ll enjoy getting to spend more time with our seven grandkids and additional time traveling with my wife and family.”


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