The Chicken or the Egg— Southeast Agribusiness Major Interns with Tyson Foods

Harlan JoshCAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., July 14, 2015 – Southeast Missouri State University senior Josh Harlan of Mexico, Missouri, is interning with Tyson Foods in Monett, Missouri, this summer, where he says he’s learning what it takes to get a chicken from an egg to a plate.

Harlan, an agribusiness: animal science major, is one of two interns working at the poultry plant that has afforded him tremendous hands-on experience.

“There’s a lot more work that goes into it than I thought there was. I didn’t have any experience with chickens, so I’m learning a lot,” Harlan said.

Harlan, president of Southeast’s livestock showing team, says he has gotten to work in the hatchery, feed mill and processing line in addition to working alongside breeder technicians and broiler technicians.

Harlan, Midwestern national vice president of the agriculture honor society Delta Tau Alpha, says he has learned how the embrex injection machine works, a device that vaccinates chickens while they’re still in the egg. He says getting to work in so many different areas has given him a better understanding of how each part operates and the different areas in which employees specialize. He says he is looking forward to working with the human resources, safety and accounting departments as well.

“I have a lot more respect for the working class,” Harlan said. “I haven’t met a person I wasn’t proud to work with so far. They bust their tails every day.”

The Monett complex utilizes around 40 farms that can have up to 10 broiler houses per farm. Each house is about 20,000 square feet. Harlan says prior to the arrival of the chicks, each house must be heated to 92 degrees and equipped with supplemental feed trays placed four feet apart, and after their arrival, the farm owners and broiler technicians must check on the chickens to maintain their health and growth until the proper age for processing.

The internship has been more difficult than he expected, Harlan says, but he appreciates how much he’s been able to learn in such a short time.

“I think [this opportunity] is going to open a lot of doors for me. Tyson is such a big company, so there are a lot of things I could do with it. Definitely a good starting place for me,” Harlan said.

In addition to being president of Southeast’s Livestock Showing Team and Midwestern National Vice President of Delta Tau Alpha, Harlan is also the warden of Phi Delta Theta and is a member of Southeast’s Agriculture Club, Horticulture Club, Collegiate Farm Bureau, Phi Eta Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi.