TEACHING AND LEARNING PAPER SERIES
The goal of the Teaching a Learning paper Series is to improve, enhance, andenrich
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Food and Resource Economics Department and thus the content is the sole
responsibility of the faculty author or co-auhor.
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Food and Resource Ecnomics Department
Tyson Foods, Inc.: A Summer MAB Internship
Keri Perocchi, Allen Wysocki, and Karl Kepner*
Abstract: This paper describes a summer internship at Tyson Foods, Inc. Tyson Foods
primarily deals with chicken and chicken products. The paper portrays some of the conditions,
processes and concerns that are characteristic to a hatchery, processing plant and further
processing plant. Also included are explanations of the different tasks that the interns performed
and an overall analysis of the entire Tyson internship experience. The paper will also offer
suggestions for improving the different aspects of the internship. It will connect the Tyson
experience with the Master of Agribusiness Program at the University of Florida, also giving
suggestions for ways that the program could be better utilized in a production and processing
type internship in the future.
Key Words: chicken, Tyson, internship, and human resource management.
Keri Perocchi is a Master of Agribusiness graduate student and Allen Wysocki and Karl
Kepner are Assistant Professor and Distinguished Professor respectively, in the Food and
Resource Economics Department, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Institute of Food
and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Gainesville, Florida.
Opinions and perspectives expressed in this case may or may not represent the views of others,
particularly, Tyson Foods, Inc.
Tyson Foods, Inc.: A Summer MAB Internship
Keri Perocchi, Allen Wysocki, and Karl Kepner
John Tyson started Tyson in Arkansas, in the 1930s. Mr. Tyson had the foresight
to enter into the poultry industry when it was still very small. Soon after Tyson was
0 formed, it moved towards vertical integration. This started when Mr. Tyson
had a problem with his supplier refusing to supply the birds that he needed.
To solve this problem, he bought incubators so that he could supply his local
growers. Next, he began milling his own chicken feed after the local feed
mill told him that he must wait for his next shipment. This enabled Tyson to
become the commercial feed dealer for Ralston Purina by the end of the decade.
In the 1940s, Tyson was expanding. Mr. Tyson bought the first company owned
broiler farm. A broiler is a young chicken that is intended for eating. Tyson Foods was
more and more on its way towards being self-reliant. A truly insightful move was when
Mr. Tyson got the idea to begin crossbreeding birds. Up until this time, the industry only
dealt with pedigrees. Mr. Tyson found that by crossing a New Hampshire Red Christy, a
good meat producing bird, you could produce a bird that outperformed the pedigrees.
At the end of the '40s, giants like Swift and Swanson were locating their
slaughterhouses near the bird supply in Northeast Arkansas. Another great help was the
use of refrigerated trailers that were used to transport the ice-packed product to its
destination. Despite these advances for the industry, it was still heavily influenced by the
trends of the market.
By the 1950s, the annual sales of Tyson Foods reached $1 million. The hatchery
was producing 12,000 chicks per week and the company was processing 96,000 broilers
per week. John's son, Don, finished college and came to work for the family business.
After unsuccessfully trying to persuade out-of-state companies to build a processing plant
near Tyson, in Northwest Arkansas, John allowed Don to build Tyson's first processing
plant. The fluctuating market and disease outbreaks among the chickens made times
difficult for Tyson. In order to offset the bad times, the company moved out into other
areas like the commercial egg business.
In 1963, Tyson offered it's initial public offering of 100,000 T" aods ~
shares at $10.50 per share and changed its name to Tyson Foods. The o Shaes of Silck
broiler industry had increased by 366% in Arkansas alone in the past
decade and Tyson felt confident in further expansion. He made many acquisitions, like
Garrett Poultry Company. (www.Tyson.com/corporate/history)
Tyson was faring well, but was still at the mercy of the fluctuating market with
earnings hitting extreme highs and lows. It was this that urged Mr. Tyson to construct the
first corporate strategy. He wanted to declare that Tyson Foods was not committed
strictly to the broiler market. Even more, he wanted to express that the company would
be committed to ensuring that the amount of dollars invested was equal to the amount of
dollars returned on investment.
In 1967, Mr. Tyson and his wife were killed in an automobile/train accident. This
left their son Don, who had already been president of Tyson for a year, to run the family
business. With Don acting as Chairman of the Board, Tyson continued to move forward
and make improvements. They expanded into areas with more profitable products like
Cornish hens, table eggs, and roasters. Also under Don's leadership, the company made
more acquisitions, like Franz Foods and Prospect Farms, Inc. By 1968, Tyson Foods was
processing 54 million broilers annually and was the first to offer further processed
poultry products to the market.
The 1970s were a period of great growth for Tyson and the rest of the chicken
industry. Consumers began to recognize the healthy benefits of eating chicken. As a
result, the per capital consumption of chicken was increasing swiftly. Tyson Foods
changed its name to Tyson Foods, Inc. and had its first appearance on the Fortune 1000.
The size of the company nearly doubled from computerizing their feed mill,
building a new processing plant, and making three more acquisitions. They began to
focus more and more on value added products and less on commodities. Tyson's annual
bird production jumped from 72 million in 1970 to 234 million at the end of the '70s. In
addition to their success, a record year in sales led to a four-for-one stock split in 1978.
Tyson also ventured into hog farming, becoming the nation's leading hog producer at the
end of the decade.
After a string of more acquisitions, the growth of further processed foods, and the
success of Tyson's Chick 'n Quick line, theirs was the only brand chicken patty sold in
all fifty states by 1982. Also increasing in popularity was the individually quick frozen
products. They were in demand from the military and institutional food companies
By 1983, Tyson's business strategy of acquisitions was well known and they
decided to demonstrate it once again. Tyson purchased Mexican Original, which added a
large variety of products, and Valmac that gave them several large restaurant accounts in
addition to Valmac's $400 million in sales. This purchased increased Tyson's sales
In the late '80s, Tyson bought Holly Farms, much to the dislike of their main
competitor, ConAgra. This venture once again doubled the size of Tyson and increased
their sales to $2.5 billion annually. Acquiring Holly Farms also allowed Tyson to expand
their production of beef and pork. In 1989, Tyson made an alliance with a Mexican-
based poultry company, Trasgo. This partnership was made for the purpose of creating
an international partnership with Mexico and Japan, called CITRA.
Tyson spent the '90s making more acquisitions and expanding their production.
After gaining McCarty Foods, Cargill's poultry division, and Hudson Foods, Tyson
began concentrating on their core business. They began to focus on the customer.
Specific marketing groups were created to serve retail, food service, and international
needs. The job of the groups was to provide excellent customer service and to guarantee
Tyson the ability to anticipate market demand.
Tyson's Internship Program Background
Tyson's internship program is relatively new. As of the summer of 2000, Tyson
would only be hosting it's third set of interns. Since the program is new, it has some
positive aspects and a lot of room to grow. These areas of improvement will be discussed
later as well as the internship activities and processes at each plant.
There were twenty students who were recruited as interns during the summer of
2000. They came from the southeast United States, ranging from Arkansas to South
Carolina and down to Florida. Out of the twenty interns, ten were female and ten were
male. Nine of the interns were from Florida and out of those nine, five attended the
University of Florida. The interns' backgrounds varied. Some of the programs that they
studied were biology, food science, poultry science, human resource management, and
The interns were chosen to work at Tyson's South Georgia Complex. Tyson has
many plants throughout the United States, with concentration mainly in the East. The
South Georgia Complex gets it's name because it consists of four plants and
approximately 300 poultry farms located in South Georgia. These plants are the Dawson
further processing plant, the Buena Vista and Vienna processing plants, and the
Oglethorpe Feed Mill and Hatchery. During the internship, the interns would visit each
area of the Complex.
There were several different ways that the recruitment of these interns took place.
In the previous year, Tyson put out an advertisement in the newspaper to attract young
people locally. Tyson found that this was not very successful. The type of people that
the advertisement attracted was not the type that Tyson hoped to keep for any longer than
the summer to represent their company. Tyson learned that since the internship paid
well, they had attracted people who were not interested in the poultry industry only
people wanting to make a nice paycheck for the summer.
Tyson deduced that they would have to travel outside of their area in order to find
the type of young people that they wanted to have representing their company. For the
Summer 2000 interns, they started looking at the International Poultry Exposition that is
held in Atlanta, Georgia, every January. At the expo, there are approximately one
thousand businesses that span throughout two huge rooms of the World Congress Center.
Their businesses deal with every aspect of the poultry industry, from the company who
sells the light bulbs for the chicken houses, to the company who sells the machines for
the processing plants, to the company who sells already processed, value added products.
They set up their booths to show off their products, hand out information and advertising
trinkets, as well as interview potentials. Businesses go to the expo to find up-to-date
information and the latest technologies and products in the poultry industry. Students go
to find jobs and internships and collect the trinkets.
The expo lasts approximately three days, which is barely enough time to see all of
the exhibits. During those three days, many companies have sent representatives who are
there to interview students. All the student has to do is bring their r6sum6s and sign up
for a time for an interview with as many companies as they wish. You can also sign up
for an interview in the weeks before the expo by contacting the company on the phone.
A list of businesses that will be conducting interviews is distributed to the school's
poultry department ahead of time.
Tyson knew that the poultry expo would be a good place to find students that
were interested in the poultry industry and had an education and the capacity for learning.
Tyson had selected four or five representatives, one of which was the complex human
resource manager for the South Georgia Complex, who were chosen to recruit students.
The interview was very simple. The complex HR manager, Jonathan Andrews,
first looked over the r6sum6 and then began talking about Tyson and their summer
internship program. He explained where the plants were, what the interns would be
doing during the day, and where they would be living. He also extended the opportunity
for questions to be asked of him. After what felt like a very short and easy interview, the
topic turned to Florida-Auburn Football, since Mr. Andrews was a graduate of Auburn
University. At the end of the interview, Mr. Andrews stated that an internship position
was available and to call him the following Monday if the intern wished to accept it.
Another recruiting method that Tyson used was to travel to different universities
in the southeast area, like Florida A&M, University of Florida, ABAC, and Auburn just
to name a few. Lauren Freeland, HR manager of the processing plant in Vienna,
Georgia, and David Peppers, HR manager trainee, were recruiting at the University of
Florida's career fair. The recruiters attended the school's career fairs so that students
would have their r6sumes and be ready for an interview on the spot. The idea here was
similar to that of attending the expo: to find students with an interest in one of many
fields and had an education with the capacity for learning.
The internship was designed to begin on May 25 with the summer intern
orientation at the Dawson further processing plant. This was a full day, from 7:30 am
until 5:00 pm, consisting of a lot of paperwork, the intern's physical, and many videos
and speakers on company issues and policies. Some of these issues and policies included
safety, sexual harassment, career opportunities, corporate code of conduct, retirement
savings, and quality assurance. Most of the topics were very dry and not of much interest
to the interns.
There are four plants that make up Tyson's South Georgia Complex: the
Oglethorpe Feed Mill and Hatchery, the Buena Vista processing plant, the Vienna
processing plant, and the Dawson further processing plant. Since there were twenty
interns, they would be split up into groups of five and each group would rotate to the
different plants during the internship. At each plant, the interns would spend
approximately two weeks and two days learning the processes and working at different
Map of South Georgia Complex
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As a part of the benefits of the internship, Tyson would be providing housing, in
Americus, in the dorms at Georgia Southwestern. Each intern would be given his/her
own dorm room. Georgia Southwestern was a very small school and there were very few
students there over the summer. The interns were given access to the weight room, pool,
and tennis courts. The school even had it's own post office that the interns used to get
and send their mail.
Interns were to be paid an hourly wage of $9.00. The issue of working overtime
was always different depending on which plant you were working at. The reason for this
was that your salary for those two weeks came out of the individual plant's budget.
Some of the plants were on a tighter budget than others. Therefore, some plants allowed
you to work overtime, but most did not. Some interns got around the issue by simply not
asking. Most of them thought the idea of making $13.50 an hour sounded pretty nice so
they just worked overtime anyways.
Each of the plants was centrally located around Americus, so it would be about
the same distance to drive to each plant. Since each plant was an approximate 45-minute
drive from Georgia Southwestern, Tyson offered to pay the interns mileage of 32.5 cents
per mile. It didn't sound like much, but it amounted to an extra hundred dollars a week.
To help cut down on gas costs and wear and tear on the vehicles, many interns
carpooled. Numerous times, when some of the interns carpooled they would record that
they drove when they did not. This was so they could get paid extra money for doing
nothing. This was hardly fair since not all of the interns could do this without suspicions
The Tyson Plants
Dawson- Further Processing Plant
This internship started at the end of the line for a poultry product: at Dawson, in
further processing. Dawson produces several further processed products, like the chicken
burger, diced thigh meat, and fajita strips. Their main product, however, is chicken
wings. They have several large accounts, like Dominos and Swanson, which they
produce their wings for.
Dawson received their product in two different forms: small plastic tubs and large
cardboard combos. The tubs hold approximately 70 pounds of chicken while the combos
generally hold 2000 pounds. The product was handled in one of two main areas, either
the marination room or the fryer room. After the product was unloaded from the
refrigerated truck, it was usually stored in the freezer room. For demonstration purposes,
we will use chicken wings as an example.
When it was time to prepare the wings for Dominos, hundreds of totes of wings
would be brought out from the freezer room. Inside the tote, chicken wings were in
plastic bags and ice was packed on top of the wings to help preserve them. Four or five
men would empty out the ice from the totes and dump the wings into the larger cardboard
combos with a plastic liner or a metal combo.
There were three different lines that marinated and cooked product. One line was
used to make diced thigh meat or fajita strips or whatever else and the other two lines
were designated for marinating and frying the wings. At any given time, both lines could
be set up to run wings for Dominos or one line could be set up for Dominos and one
could be set up for Swanson.
When a combo was filled, it was brought to one of the lines and emptied into the
marination chamber. There was a specific associate who was in charge of measuring and
mixing the ingredients that formed the marination mix. This was a very important job
and easily messed up.
The product stayed in the marination chamber for about twenty minutes. Vacuum
and pressure were used to help the product quickly seal in as much of the marination as
possible. When the product was marinated, it was dumped on a conveyer belt where
stood an associate who had the task of evening the wings into a single layer. Dominos
insisted that their wings be in a single layer because it helped them fry more evenly when
they dropped into the par-fryer. This was a very messy job because batter was always
slinging all over the worker's face and body when the wings hit the belt.
The wings would move through the oil in the par-fryer on a conveyor belt. It
would take a few minutes for this to happen. When they exited the par-fryer, there were
two associates who quickly combed through them, looking for broken pieces, incorrect
cuts, and wings that had clumped together in the fryer. The belt then took the wings into
the oven for another couple of minutes.
After the wings were cooked in the oven, they entered the clean room to be frozen
and packaged. Not many of the interns were able to go into the clean room. There was a
window in a conference room above where you could go to watch what went on in there.
There were very severe restrictions for being in there. To get prepared to go into the
clean room, you had to have a clean smock, a pair of rubber boots, and both men and
women had to wear hairnets and beard nets. They were stricter in this room because if
there were some type of contamination in the marination or fryer room, the fryers would
take care of it and kill the bacteria. There was not opportunity for this in the clean room.
There was one incident where the sanitation crew failed to clean a piece of
equipment. When this was discovered the next morning, the entire clean room had to be
cleaned again, top to bottom. While this was being done, production in the entire plant
had to stop because you could not be marinating and cooking product because it would
have nowhere to go for a few hours.
After leaving the clean room, the packaged product would travel down one of
three lines where it was to be boxed, sealed and stacked onto a pallet. The box was
affixed with a label that told the name of the product, the weight of the product, and the
product code. All of these pieces of information were very important since they helped to
track the product in the event of a problem.
Here is an example of the code used on Tyson's products:
This means that the product was produced on December 31, 2000, at the Buena Vista
plant, on the first line, and in the 14th hour. To break it down more simply, Tyson uses
the Julian date (365) to tell which day of the year it is. The year (0) signifies the year
2000. If the year were 1994, there would simply be a 4. BV signifies which plant that
the product was processed at. The 01 denotes the line number. Tyson also runs on a 24-
hour clock or military time so the number 14 means that it was produced at 2:00pm.
If quality assurance did a check at 9 am and found the product to be safe and then
checked at 10 am and found that it was contaminated, they could trace that product and
find all of the other packages that were produced between 9 and 10 am on that line and
discard those packages. It could prevent more product from being thrown away than
what is necessary.
Projects and Problems
It seems that Dawson had the most problems out of all of the plants. Maybe it
seemed that way simply because the day-shift manager was more involved in talking to
the interns and letting them in on the plant's problems and concerns. He was very
concerned with running efficiently and saving the plant money. He was also very eager
for the interns to run tests to help find solutions to some of the problems.
Product is shipped to Dawson on refrigerated trucks. A recurring problem is that
when the product is shipped, it sometimes comes at a time when it can't be unloaded. In
this event, the driver would just leave the trailer on the lot with the refrigeration system
still running. It could be left this way for days. Also, when the trucks would be
unloaded, they weren't necessarily unloaded in the order that they arrived. Either there
wasn't a good enough system for keeping track of what came in when or there weren't
people who cared enough to find out.
The other problem with this is that the longer the product sits on the truck, the ice
melts and the product begins soaking up water. This is not desirable because the more
water the product soaks in, the less marinade it can absorb.
One of the projects that we were given was to test the product coming in from
other plants for short weight. When chicken is processed and packaged at the Vienna
plant, ice is added to the top to help preserve the product. Dawson has to pay Vienna per
pound. Marty Cold, the day-shift manager believed that the Vienna plant was shorting
Dawson. Marty believed that Vienna was adding nearly one hundred pounds of ice to
each combo, then weighing it and charging Dawson for the ice and chicken. With the
amount of chicken that Dawson received from Vienna, Dawson ended up paying a lot of
money for ice.
It may seem odd that one Tyson plant would be trying to cheat another Tyson
plant, but it is important to remember that each plant deals with it's own budget and
earnings. Each plant is graded on their performance and how much money they make
The interns tested for short weight by recording the weight of a combo. The
combo was then taken to a conveyer belt where it was then rinsed with water to melt the
ice. The chicken was then packed into a new combo and reweighed. The interns argued
that pouring water over the chicken to melt the ice would simply add more weight in
water. The manager disagreed and said that the water would simply run off. The results
of the test, for whatever reason, were not conclusive. Some combos were found to be
underweight while some were overweight.
There was also the problem of product waste. The way that the oven was made, a
suspended belt carried the product through the oven into the clean room. It was very
common to have the wings pile up on each other and fall over the side. These wings
could not be used and totaled to a large amount of waste. Marty had addressed the
problem to the plant manager, in writing, and proposed that the sides along the belt be
raised. He also showed how much money could be saved, approximately $25,000 per
Apparently the plant manager did not see the problem as being that significant.
This is because the plant manager did not see the benefits of shutting down production on
that particular line long enough to have the problem fixed. The manager saw only the
money that the plant would be losing during the time that production was stopped. He
was not looking at the long-term benefits and the money that could be saved in the future.
The plant manager saw that his plant turned a considerable profit every month and that is
all that he cared about. The extra money saved did not look like a substantial amount to
him, but in the long run it would really add up.
Another problem that befell Dawson was equipment failure. The belts in the
spiral freezer would jam and break. Since the product had to be frozen, production on the
line had to stop and wait for the belt to be fixed. Sometimes this took quite a while.
Overall, Dawson was one of the better plants to work at. The interns had the
opportunity to spend time with several of the managers and learn about what they do.
We learned about Tyson's safety programs, HAZMAT, HACCP, and Quality Assurance.
For the most part the people were friendly and helpful, with only a few exceptions.
The biggest complaint is that there was no structure. With the exception of the
short weight tests, which only lasted a few days, there were no set tasks for the interns.
They were mainly instructed to go to an area and observe the associates working and talk
to them about their jobs. This got very boring very quickly. It only took so long to learn
about the tasks because the plant was not very big.
The interns found themselves searching for "busy" jobs that were usually
mindless tasks that simply helped to pass the time. The job that was found to be the best
for this was working in the pack-out room. The interns spent most of their days in there
because it helped to make time pass quickly.
Buena Vista- Processing Plant
Buena Vista is Tyson's oldest plant in the South Georgia Complex. It often runs
into many problems because of its age. There is no more land there to expand the plant's
size or even create enough employee parking. Inside the plant, the machines are very
cramped and often end up spiraling around in a confusing maze. In many of the areas
you must duck under equipment to get to the other side. This is very dangerous. It can
potentially lead to bumped heads or slips because often the floor is wet as well.
Buena Vista is also the only plant in the South GA Complex that is unionized.
Tyson does not look favorably on unions and is currently trying to work with some of the
managers to help the associates choose to dissolve the union. Tyson said that it is in the
best interest of the associates to work directly with Tyson. This is because unions often
try to create upheaval and stress between employers and employees. Also, Tyson pointed
out that those associates who did not belong to a union, at the other plants, received
higher wages than those at BV.
Buena Vista brings in and processes a large bird. The birds generally weigh
around six to eight pounds. During the average workweek, 2,277,750 lbs of product is
produced in the form of breasts, tenders, thighs, wings, drums, and mechanically deboned
After the birds are unloaded from the trailers, they enter the live hang area on a
conveyer belt. A dozen workers have the job of grabbing the birds and hanging them by
their feet. The room is very dark to keep the birds calm. Live hang is by far the worst
and nastiest job that they interns encountered. Before working in that area, the interns
would suit up from head to toe because no matter how calm they tried to make the birds,
the birds just got upset and made a mess all over the interns anyways.
The birds are led down a dark hallway and through a device that sprays them with
water while sending an electric current through their bodies. This is done so that the
birds are basically unconscious when they go through the kill blade and the blade will be
more effective since they won't be lifting their heads. Leaving them alive and only
stunning them also helps them bleed out better as they travel through the blood tunnel.
The birds are scalded with very hot water and then beat with rubber fingers. This
easily removes their feathers. Still hanging from their metal shackles, the birds' feet were
cut off at the hock joint. The birds were then re-hung onto shackles and moved into the
The evisceration room had many machines whose job was to remove all of the
entrails from the birds. There were several USDA inspectors at
various points along the line. Their job was to inspect the birds,
i M looking for signs of fecal contamination or disease. There was a
Tyson associate who was the USDA's helper. If they found a
contaminated or diseased bird, the associate had to remove it and take care of it. This
could mean rewashing the bird, cutting off a bad limb, or placing the whole bird in the
condemn bin. Between all of the inspectors, every bird was checked.
After the birds were gutted, they were immediately chilled in an ice and water
mixture. While the birds are chilling, so are the giblets. The giblets are the organs that
often come in the bag inside the chicken at the grocery store. These are the gizzards, the
liver, heart, and the neck.
Tyson doesn't waste any part from the birds. Besides the meat and giblets, every
part is used for something. The feathers and blood are sent to the offal area where they
are later processed into blood meal and feather meal. These are usually fed to chickens.
The carcasses, or bones, are ground up to make MDM or mechanically de-boned meat.
When added with other ingredients, products like bologna and hot dogs are made.
Even the feet, called paws, are peeled, graded and packaged and shipped overseas.
Paws, not from Tyson, were also sold at the Wal-Mart super center in Americus. When
this was mentioned to one of the QA members, she remarked that it was odd because
paws are not supposed to be sold in the US because they are not checked and regulated
by the USDA. This leads one to wonder whether the company selling the paws had a
USDA inspector checking the paws or not since they were selling the product.
When the birds are chilled to the proper temperature, they are again hung onto
shackles and led into the de-bone area where they fall onto one of ten lines. The birds are
placed onto cones that move at different speeds, depending on the skill of the workers on
For every job along the line there is either one or two people doing it, depending
on how hard it is. For example, there are generally two people who are in charge of
removing the right wing and two people in charge of removing the left wing. These are
more difficult cuts and need to be done carefully. There is only one person responsible
for pulling the skin off the bird. This requires tugging and pulling and you don't have to
be all that careful.
When the birds are deboned, the parts are inspected, and the parts are correctly
stored in the appropriate combo. The combos are then labeled and covered and put away
into the cold room so that the product's temperature is kept low to preserve it. From here
the shipping department takes over and ensures that the right amount of product is
shipped out on the right truck and gets to the right place.
Internship Activities at Buena Vista
The structure of activities for the interns was by far the best at Buena Vista.
During our two weeks there, the interns were placed in a different department of the plant
each day. Some of these departments were wastewater, de-bone, evisceration,
accounting, human resources, and shipping. Their task was to follow the supervisor
around and ask questions about the processes, the jobs that the associates had to do and
the jobs that the supervisors were in charge of. They could even join in and help work on
the lines if they wanted in order to learn the processes even better. The goal was to learn
as much about a department as possible in one day.
This scheduling was much better than the 'no schedule' at Dawson. Here, the
interns felt that if they had to be in a horrible department, like live hang, then it was only
going to be for a day and surely they could make it that long. It also prevented monotony
and helped the two weeks pass much more quickly.
Wastewater was one of the most interesting, yet stinky departments at the plant.
It was very laid back and most of the day was spent showing the interns how they
conducted different tests throughout the day. Tyson used thousands of gallons of water
each day with sanitation and cleaning the product while it moved through evisceration.
Tyson had to clean their own used water before dumping it into the environment or where
the city's wastewater facility could treat it. Often, the city's facility was not equipped to
handle the volume of water that Tyson used.
Tyson's wastewater department was constantly running tests to ensure that they
were not exceeding the acceptable levels of impurities in the water that they released. If
they exceeded the acceptable limit, Tyson would be heavily fined. If they continued to
exceed limits, the plant could be shut down until the problem was fixed and when they
did resume production, they would be on probation. It is normal to have to submit
weekly water samples for testing, but if a plant continuously exceeds limits, they will be
required to submit samples three times a week. The issue of water quality is not taken
Human Resources Department
The HR department was pretty disappointing. Out of all of the managers and
employees in this area, no one took the initiative to take the interns aside and teach them
about HR issues and concerns. There was never really a time that the interns could even
just sit and observe the managers or ask questions. The HR managers were always too
busy with meetings or phone calls or paperwork. They either weren't around or they
were behind a shut door.
Instead of learning, the interns got the task of doing reference checks on potential
employees. This was tedious and a waste of the interns' time. Gaining the experience of
doing reference checks was great, but the interns should have been able to gain other
experiences as well. Most times the applicants didn't have the correct phone number of
their last employer so the intern had to track that number down. The last employer was
often busy with problems of his own and didn't want to talk to you. Also, the intern had
to ask pretty specific questions and the answers were often very vague.
Quality assurance is one of the most important jobs in the plant. The QA
department makes sure that employees working in food processing areas keep a high
level of personal hygiene. They ensure that hands are washed, hairnets and earplugs are
worn and smocks and aprons are correctly worn and relatively clean.
Associates are given different colored smocks depending on their job and the area
of the plant that they are allowed in. For example, managers and supervisors wear khaki
smocks. Since the interns were classified as supervisor trainees, they also wore khaki.
Quality assurance personnel wore gold smocks and maintenance wore dark brown.
Associates that were working in areas where raw product was handled wore light blue
and those working in the fully cooked area (in Dawson) wore white. This helped ensure
that cross contamination did not occur by having associates visiting the wrong area. If
the associate was in the incorrect area, they were easily detected and taken care of.
Smocks were not allowed in the break-rooms or outside of the plant.
Besides observing the associates, QA is also in charge of checking the product.
QA members run tests and watch the chicken as it is being dumped from the assembly
line into the combos. They are checking for foreign objects like bolts from the machines,
bones when the product is supposed to be boneless, or feathers that were not removed.
If a QA member finds that the combo fails in too many areas, they will put a hold
tag on it. This means that the product cannot leave the plant until every piece of product
is manually checked and the problems are removed or fixed.
Some of the interns were able to help with Buena Vista's annual spirit week. This
was a lot of fun. The purpose of spirit week was to get the associates involved and
motivated. There were even t-shirts that the associates could purchase which the interns
helped distribute. The idea was that each day during the week would have a different
theme. On a few of the days, the departments were able to earn points. The department
that received the most points at the end of the week would receive a prize later, like a
pizza party. Here are a few examples of the different themes.
Monday would be attendance day. The departments often had a problem with
associates calling in sick to work on Mondays. Points would be awarded to those
departments who did not have any workers absent.
Tuesday would be safety day. The department that could make it through the day
with no accidents or cuts would be awarded points. This was easier for some
departments than it was for others. Obviously in the de-bone area the workers are
moving at a fast pace and working with sharp knives, so the potential to cut oneself is
One morning, a line from night shift and a line from day shift participated in a de-
bone competition. The winners received a trinket of some sort. This was very good for
boosting the competitive spirit between the two shifts and lifted morale.
Another day was the meat sale. This allowed the associates to buy boxes of
Tyson chicken at a discounted price. Inside the boxes were some of the miscut products
that were still good, but unable to be sold to customers. Presentation is very important
for the consumers and an improperly cut piece of chicken is poor presentation.
Friday would be the fish fry. BV sold tickets for a fish meal that was prepared by
the management and could be picked up during the associate's lunch period. The money
earned from ticket sales was to be given to their committee who helps Tyson families in
their time of need. The committee consists of human resource managers and associates
from each department. Besides helping needy Tyson families, it was the responsibility of
these associates to represent their department's feelings and concerns and relay
information back to their co-workers.
Overall, Buena Vista was the best Tyson plant to intern at. This is measured by a
few different factors. One factor was the scheduling. The way that the interns were
assigned to many different areas during the two weeks gave them a diverse set of
experiences. This allowed them to learn the many facets of the processing plant.
Another factor was the managers. The managers at Buena Vista were the most
helpful and friendly. They seemed as though they were genuinely interested in helping
the interns learn about the industry and their jobs. They allowed the interns to sit in on
meetings and follow them around all day so that the interns could truly see what they did
and what they dealt with on a day-to-day basis.
The experience at Buena Vista was surprising. The interns were anxious and
nervous about working there. While the interns were at orientation on the first day, the
complex manager warned them about how the people at BV would act towards them.
Mr. Andrews said to watch out when the interns arrived at BV because many of them
would not be very pleasant. He said that this was because they would feel threatened that
the interns were there to take over their jobs. This was not the case at all. The people
and managers at BV were nothing but pleasant and friendly. It was not very wise or
professional of Mr. Andrews to give such a warning.
Vienna- Processing Plant
Vienna is a much younger plant than Buena Vista. Vienna has a better layout and
a lot more room. Vienna is one of the plants that Tyson acquired from Cargill back in
Vienna processes birds that weigh around four pounds. The plant slaughters
approximately 873,000 birds weekly. Out of those birds, 56,000 whole birds are
marinated and shipped to Boston Market. Also, 650,000 lbs of leg quarters and 150,000
lbs of whole legs are packaged for Tyson, KFC, etc. and exported to ".'. .'.
Russia, China and Japan. Approximately 470,000 lbs of breast meat
are packaged for Tyson, Sysco, Alliant and several other customers. / .
Vienna's processes are very similar to those of BV. For the sake of time, the
process will not be stated again. Only the differences will be noted for those that exist.
One difference is that Vienna processes a smaller bird. This means that the
machinery in the evisceration room has to be set for the smaller size. The settings that
would be correct for a larger bird would not work because the right parts would not line
Another difference between Buena Vista and Vienna is that Vienna only de-bones
the top half of the bird. Vienna has a machine that separates the top half
of the bird from the bottom half. The top halves are then taken to the
aging room where they stay until they are ready to be de-boned. The
bottom halves are cut down into drumsticks and thighs. There was a new
and experimental line that they were using where a number of associates to de-bone the
Another difference is that Vienna is branching out and trying to market new
products. One product that was being tested while the interns was there was the riblet.
The first shift manager devised a machine that stripped the thigh meat from the bone.
The bone and surrounding meat would be the riblet. The stripped meat would then be put
onto skewers and later breaded. This was called chicken-on-a-stick. The concept of the
riblet and chicken-on-a-stick was not necessarily bad, but it needed a lot of work. The
machine was very poorly constructed. It used a lot of water so that the blades would not
jam and that water just ended up all over the floor. It was very messy.
Yet another difference between Vienna and Buena Vista is their wings. BV
removes the whole wing and sends its to further processing at Dawson, as is. Vienna
removes the whole wing, but then has workers who cut the wing into sections. The wings
are cut into drums, flats and wing tips. The drums and flats are packaged and sent to
other plants for further processing. The tips are sent overseas to Hong Kong and China.
Vienna gave the interns a schedule also, but it was not nearly as efficient. The
schedule at Vienna put the interns in the evisceration and de-bone areas for four days
each, while skipping many areas all together. This, again, led to the interns being bored,
taking long breaks, and wandering around looking for something to do. It was
unnecessary to have the interns be in one place for so long. It was even worse for those
interns who had already visited BV. Since the processes were so similar, there was not a
lot of new information.
To help alleviate the boredom, some of the interns left their designated areas and
sought out people in departments that they would not get a chance to visit during their
two weeks there. One of these departments was safety.
It was quite disturbing how unorganized the safety supervisor was. The interns
helped her catch up on paper work dating back to the beginning of the year. Also, each
fire extinguisher was to be inspected by the safety supervisor each month. Needless to
say, she was also a few months behind on this. To help her out, two of the interns had the
task of finding every fire extinguisher in the plant and initialing that it was functioning
properly. The interns did this, but they did not have any idea if the extinguishers were
working properly or not.
Looking back on the safety programs at Tyson might lead one to question how
effective they were. At Dawson, a few of the interns walked around on a tour with the
safety supervisor there. The interns pointed out things that they believed were not safe.
The supervisor agreed, but did not fix them and did not even say that he would get them
fixed. Also while at Dawson, it was said that there was an ammonia leak, which is quite
serious, but the safety supervisor did not even know about it until the following day.
While at Vienna, the interns spent a day with quality assurance. It was essentially
the same concepts as BV. However, at Vienna, the interns were allowed to help more
with their day-to-day tasks. The interns went along with the QA tech and took a
temperature reading in each part of the de-bone area. The temperature in de-bone is
critical to ensure the preservation of the product and cannot rise above 45 degrees.
Also, the interns walked up and down the de-bone lines to find workers in
violation of wardrobe and safety policies. If a worker's apron was not tied, hair was
hanging out of the hairet, they were not wearing a beard net when they should, or if their
earplugs were not in then the interns were supposed to notify the line supervisor and they
would fix it.
Overall, Vienna was the worst plant to work at. Their thrown together schedule
was nothing short of ill prepared. There was not enough tasks or learning opportunities
to satisfy the interns. Also, placing the interns in areas for four days, that they had
already been in for two days, only led to two hour lunch breaks and sitting around for a
lot of the remainder of the day. The interns found activities to make themselves look
busy or found places to hide.
Ever since the group of interns arrived at Vienna, the managers were not very
friendly. A small few were nice and tried to help you learn and take up time with you,
but they were in the severe minority. For the most part the managers did not even look at
you, except to give harsh looks, much less talk to you. The HR manager and the plant
manager took the interns to lunch one day and the plant manager barely said two
sentences. The only thing that this intern could figure out is: Maybe Mr. Andrews meant
to say beware of Vienna instead of Buena Vista.
Oglethorpe- Feed Mill and Hatchery
The final stop on this journey is Oglethorpe. There are two parts in Oglethorpe:
the feed mill and the hatchery. The interns were not given the chance to work in the feed
mill. When questioned, the manager said that the reason for this is because "there is not
much to do at the feed mill". Even so, seems that at least one day working there would
be educational since many of the interns did not have a animal science background and
would not have ever been exposed to such a place before. But hey, Tyson knows best,
The hatchery is a very small operation consisting of only 37 employees. This
number includes everyone from maintenance to the tray washer to the truck drivers. The
day at the hatchery starts earlier than the day at the processing plants, at about 6:30 am.
On the same token, since they start earlier, they are also done earlier, around 3pm.
Incubators and hatchers
The hatchery has 72 incubators and 72 hatchers total. Presently, the hatchery sets
1,982,880 eggs per week. It takes 21 days for an egg to fully develop and hatch. The
incubators are used to turn the eggs while they are developing. This is so that the embryo
does not stick to the sides of the egg while forming and result in deformities or mortality.
Usually the incubator is set to rotate the eggs 45 degrees in one direction and then in the
other direction. They are also set to the correct temperature and humidity. These are all
things that the mother would provide for them naturally. After the eggs have spent
roughly 19 days in the incubator they are transferred to the hatchers.
In the hatchers, the birds are simply set into crates under the correct temperature
and humidity that changes in the later stages of development. They do not have to be
rotated and if done it could actually be harmful. So the birds just sit in the hatchers for
approximately two days and wait to hatch.
After the birds have hatched, they are taken to the separator where they are
dumped in and separated from their shells. The birds are dumped flock-by-flock. This is
so that they can record how many chicks hatch from each farm and note if there are any
significant problems. Also, the certain flocks go to certain farms.
An auto-filler takes the chicks from a conveyer belt and
dumps a set number of chicks into crates as they pass by. After this,
the chicks pass under a blue spray that is a respiratory vaccine used .-
to prevent Newcastle Bronchitis and Mereks disease. These are very L
cheap to administer at $0.00045 and $0.0018 per chick respectively.
The crates are stacked and then taken into the loading room where they wait to be
loaded onto trucks and taken to their farms.
There were very few jobs for the interns to do at the hatchery. One week was
spent at the hatchery and one week was spent in grow out. While at the hatchery, the jobs
alternated between feeding crates down to the auto-filler and stacking the crates at the
end. These were jobs that caused the mind to wander and the eyes to glaze over. The
time went so slowly that it was painful.
Matters weren't helped any by the lack of rules in the area of personal hygiene
and such. There were no cleanliness requirements because the chicks were going to the
farms and not for human consumption. This means that no one was required to wear
hairnets or smocks or clean clothes. The women were spitting tobacco juice every thirty
seconds. It was very nauseating. It also made the interns appreciate the strict rules of the
other three plants.
Another job that was given to the interns was the job of counting chicks while
they were in the hatchers. About twenty crates were stacked in the hatchers in sets of six
or so. The interns were to take a crate from the middle and one from the top and count
how many chicks had hatched and record that number as well as the farm that the eggs
had come from. This was a miserable job. The hatchers were extremely hot, over a
hundred degrees, and when the doors were opened the heat and little down feathers
blasted the interns. Even wearing a facemask did not help. Feathers still flew all in the
interns' eyes and everywhere else. The middle crate was also very hard to get to because
the crates on top made it quite heavy to lift. Try counting over one hundred chicks in a
crate too. They were running everywhere and would just not sit still. Just when you
think you've counted one, you think you spot the same one somewhere else and have to
start all over.
When the interns were in grow out, they rode around with the flock supervisors
all day looking at their farms that they were in charge of. Tyson has contract farming.
Tyson provides certain elements, like the chicks and feed, while the farm owners provide
the labor and houses.
The supervisors have a certain number of farms that are assigned to them. During
the course of a week they visit each farm. For farms that are struggling more and have
certain problems, they try to visit more than once a week.
There is intense competition among the farmers because they are ranked. The
top ranked farmer is paid the most money per pound and it descends from there. Most of
the farmers understand that the cleaner their houses are and the better the temperature and
airflow is through the house, the happier their chickens will be. Happier birds mean
healthier and bigger birds. The farmers are paid per pound so the smarter farmer will do
what he can to ensure the health of the birds.
As logical as this concept sounds, it was not so obvious to many. The interns
visited many different farms, but there were two different ones that distinctly stood out.
One farm had a severe ammonia problem. This occurs because many farms do
not change out their litter between flocks. The ammonia builds up from the excrement of
the previous birds and cannot be dispelled because of lack of ventilation. There were
chicks that were supposed to be delivered that day and when the .
supervisor and the intern went into the house to check and see if it
were ready, they were not pleased. The ammonia was so strong that it -
caused their eyes to water and bur and caused difficulty breathing.
When the chicks are exposed to this long term, it also causes watery
eyes, difficult breathing and ammonia burs on their legs and feet.
Needless to say, the supervisor ordered the farmer to ventilate the house as much as he
could in order to help alleviate the problem and prepare for the chicks.
Another farm had problems keeping its floors dry. This is essential. One of the
problems with that farm was that, while the farmer was never pleasant to work with, he
was selling his farm and already had buyers. This made him care even less and work not
In one of the houses, there was a water leak that he did not take care of promptly.
The floor was nothing but mud soup. In some areas, there were chickens literally buried
up to their heads in the mud. They had no way of getting out. When the supervisor saw
this, he put them out of their misery. He did not bother to dig them out. Everyone was
going to be happy when that farmer moved on from Tyson.
The experience of working at Oglethorpe was mediocre. On the whole the jobs
weren't too bad, with the exception of a few. It could have been better if the interns
could have gotten one or two days of experience at the feed mill. Most of the people
were friendly, but once again no one at the hatchery really taught the interns anything.
The guys in grow out gave the interns the opportunity to learn because they were riding
around in a truck with them for eight hours a day and the interns had to find something to
talk about for that long.
The Tyson Internship Impression
All in all, the Tyson experience was a positive one. The interns were able to meet
a wide variety of people from different walks of life. They were able to make some good
money while learning a few things in the process. Tyson took good care of their interns
by providing housing, decent pay, mileage and a trip just for the interns at the end of their
One of the last days of work, Tyson took the interns to Wild Adventures in
Valdosta. They provided a ride, paid for the tickets and gave the interns a meal ticket as
well. It was a good time to for the interns to relax and get to spend some more time with
each other before the summer was over. It was a very nice gesture by Tyson.
While there were a lot of disappointing aspects of the internship dealing with how
uncoordinated and unprepared Tyson was to have interns visiting for the summer, there is
a lot of room for growth and improvement. With the size and strength of a company like
Tyson, they should be able to improve their program significantly with a little more
planning. They could also be improved if they have a designated person at each plant
that is in charge of coordinating activities for the interns.
Another way in which the internship program should be altered is to devise a
better schedule. When the interns arrive at a plant, there should be a set department that
the intern would be in for 'x' number of days. That's not to say that there cannot be
flexibility in the schedule to accommodate the different interns' interests. For example, if
a student is interested in accounting and that department is not on the schedule, then they
should be allowed to visit that department for a day or part of a day.
Along with scheduling, there should be a set person that the intern is supposed to
shadow. The intern can still participate in activities that the workers participate in, but
there should be a supervisor in each department who is in charge of the intern. Since the
intern's title is supervisor trainee, they should be able to fully see and experience what it
takes to be a manager, not an assembly line worker.
The internship should have more projects for the interns to participate in and help
to solve. Most of the interns have spent a lot of time and money invested in classes that
teach concepts and problem solving techniques. There should be activities scheduled that
test these skills instead of an endless number of mindless tasks.
Tyson and the Master of Agribusiness Program
This section will be designed to connect the Tyson internship experience with the
MAB program. Topics to be discussed include how the MAB program could be better
utilized and how it could be adjusted to better prepare students for internship experiences,
like the one at Tyson.
The best way to utilize what a student has learned in the MAB program, while
doing an internship, is to really get involved with upper management. It is best that a
student is involved in activities that deal with company issues like human resources or
dealing directly with product marketing and sales. The student could also be heavily
involved in projects that help to increase efficiency and solve problems that the company
The food industry is a vital part of the MAB program and there are many different
topics that are important to the food industry. Many MAB students are not going to leave
and become sales reps or marketing managers. Many of the students, quite possibly, will
move on to work in food production plants as managers or in financial positions. It is for
this reason that they should be more prepared for how a plant is run and the problems that
Most classes in the MAB curriculum deal with general management concepts and
problem solving techniques. One of the concepts includes human resource management,
which helps you learn the proper ways to treat and deal with your peers and those under
you in the workplace. Strategic management helps students learn the different strategies
and reasons behind the decisions that businesses make. Several of the other courses deal
with concepts and practical tools that students should find useful in the future, like
marketing, sales, and economics. However, most of these classes do not deal with many
real world aspects of the businesses that students may find themselves working in and
may not fully prepare them for practical and typical business situations.
Tyson is a very large corporation with many different components to their
business. The MAB curriculum could be changed so that it includes some of these areas.
While there should be no students that leave the program to work on an assembly line,
like the ones at Tyson, there will be many students who leave the program to become
managers of those working on the assembly lines. A course could emphasize more about
the production process so that students have a better understanding and working
knowledge of the different aspects of a production plant or a processing plant. The Tyson
experience is a possibility for many of the students because it is a very large corporation
in the food industry.
Other things that must be dealt with in large corporations, such as Tyson or
Hormel or Pepsi or Kraft, should be formally addressed in a MAB course. There doesn't
need to be a class for each topic, rather a class that discusses each of these issues and
possible problems in some detail. Some of the ideas that could be discussed are HACCP,
HAZMAT, OSHA, quality assurance, and even wastewater. These are all issues that are
important to many large food-processing companies, not just Tyson.
TEACHING AND LEARNING PAPER SERIES
FOOD AND RESOURCE ECONOMICS DEPARTMENT
An Introduction to the Teaching and Learning Paper
Engaging Learners In Economic and Management
Education: A Challenge To Our Profession
Perspectives On Precision Agriculture: A Case
Study of the mPower' Company
Perspectives In Human Resource Management: A
Case Study of An Incentive Program At Tyson
Foods, Inc., Jacksonville, Florida
Opportunities and Challenges in Satellite Campus
Agribusiness Management Education
Florida's Natural Growers: A Decision Case
Russell Provisions, Distributor of Boar's Head
Deli Meat and Cheese: A Decision Case
TRACER: A New Market Challenge: A Case
Study of a Marketing Plan for Dow Agro Sciences
Management and Advancement In A Theme-Based
Restaurant: A Case Study of the Ale House
Procedures For Peer Evaluation of Teaching In the
Food and Resource Economics Department
A Beginner's Guide To Understanding Mutual
Perspective On Internet Marketing: A Case Study of
Therapeutic Botanicals, Inc.
Gary F. Fairchild
Gary F. Fairchild
P.J. van Blokland
Patrick J. Byme
Ferdinand F. Wirth
Suzanne D. Thornsbury
Norman S. Baer
P.J. van Blokland
Gary F. Fairchild
John E. Reynolds
Gary F. Fairchild
John E. Reynolds
Tracy S. Hoover
P.J. van Blokland
Gary F. Fairchild
Timothy G. Taylor
Strategic Analysis of a Small Firm Competing in the
European Mango Market
A Strategic Business Analysis of Pike Family
Using Business Simulations and Issue Debates to
Facilitate Synthesis in Agribusiness Capstone
Life Long Learning For the 21st Century Food
System-Will Colleges of Agriculture Respond?
A Beginner's Guide To Speculating and Hedging
The Dow Contract
Designing Agribusiness Capstone Courses:
Objectives and Strategies
A Beginner's Guide To Understanding Risk and
Incorporation of Peer Learning In An Agricultural
Observations of the Sentricon Termite Colony
Elimination System and Florida Pest Control and
Country Catfish Company: A Decision Case
Overview and Swot Analysis of Ocean Spray
Cranberries, Inc. -Citrus Division
The Grocery Industry Faces Change
Gary F. Fairchild
Allen F. Wysocki
Gary F. Fairchild
Gary F. Fairchild
Timothy G. Taylor
Lois Schertz Willet
P. J. van Blokland
Charles R. Hall
Gary F. Fairchild
Timothy G. Taylor
Gregory A. Baker
P.J. van Blokland
Sandra B. Wilson
Suzanne D. Thomsbury
Melissa A. Diaz
Allen F. Wysocki
Gary F. Fairchild
Jacob W. Searcy
Gary F. Fairchild
Timothy G. Taylor
Ronald H. Schmidt
A Case Study of American Cyanamid
Company and Exotic-Invasive Weed Control
Catfish Farming and Processing: The Lifeblood of
Western Alabama's Agricultural Economy
Perspective On Crop Estimation: A Case Study of
Tropicana Products, Inc.
U.S.-China Trade Issues and Agreements Affecting
Observations On A Scrap Recycling Firm and
Comparisons Between Short-Run and Long-Run
Financial Performance Measures
Cost/Benefit Analysis of Temik in Citrus In The
Indian River Area of Southeastern Florida
Strategic Analysis of A U.S. Chicken Company
Competing In Global Markets
Perspectives In Land Valuation: A Case Study On
Citrus Land Valuation For Prudential Agricultural
640-Acre Agricultural Property Appraisal In Central
200-Acre Agricultura Property Appraisal In
Mechanical Harvesting Cost of a North Florida
Heading Toward the Frictionless Marketplace?
Xavier A. Abufele
Gary F. Fairchild
Timothy G. Taylor
Gary F. Fairchild
Gary F. Fairchild
Lindsey A Blakeley
Richard N. Weldon
Gary F. Fairchild
Timothy G. Taylor
Gary F. Fairchild
John E. Reynolds
John E. Reynolds
John E. Reynolds
P.J. van Blokland
The Plum Pox Virus In Pennsylvania
We're Chicken: Tyson Summer Internship
Rock Springs 4-H Center: Asummer FRED
The Marketing of A Lesser-Known Florida Fruit:
The Case of Guava At A Florida Packer/Shipper
The Florida Citrus Industry and PROWL 3.3 EC
Karl W. Kepner
William M. Gibbs
Michael T. Olexa
P.J. van Blokland