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Butterball names new vice president of live operations

Appointment comes after Walter “Gator” Pelletier retires.

February 5, 2024

2 Min Read

Officials at Butterball LLC recently announced that Walter “Gator” Pelletier, vice president of live operations, retired at the end of 2023. Vernon Felts, who most recently held the role of senior director of live operations, immediately assumed Pelletier’s vacancy. Pelletier will remain a member of Butterball’s board of directors as a Goldsboro Milling Company representative.

Pelletier joined Butterball in October 2006 when Maxwell Farms LLC acquired Butterball. He was responsible for all of North Carolina’s turkey growing operations until 2015, when we 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,” stated Pelletier. “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.”

Felts, who worked with Pelletier at Maxwell Farms, also joined Butterball in the 2006 acquisition. His longevity with the company and lengthy career in nutrition and farm management uniquely qualified him to for the vice president of live operations role. 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 U.S. 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.

“I look forward to being responsible for the production of all of Butterball’s turkeys nationwide,” stated Felts. “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, North Carolina 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 Ph.D. in animal science with a focus on poultry nutrition.

“Vernon brings a significant amount of expertise and professionalism to our live operations division. His leadership is outstanding, and I’m confident he will continue building a best-in-class program,” stated CEO Jay Jandrain. “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.”

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