West Liberty

WEST LIBERTY, Iowa – West Liberty Foods LLC named industry veteran Gerald Lessard president of the company’s new subsidiary, Liberty Free Range Poultry LLC.

Liberty Free Range Poultry will consist of breeding stock and processing plants West Liberty plans to acquire from Decatur, Arkansas-based Crystal Lake Farms, which produces the Free Ranger line of slower growing chicken. West Liberty expects to close the transaction on April 28.

Lessard will oversee the breeding, growing and processing business. He most recently was COO at Salm Partners LLC in Denmark, Wisconsin. He also was COO at West Liberty Foods from 2004 to 2016.

“We are pleased to have Gerald back as president of Liberty Free Range Poultry LLC,” Ed Garrett, CEO of West Liberty, said in a statement. “Gerald brings over 28 years of knowledge and expertise in the poultry industry and will be an asset to the success of our new business.”

Free Ranger broiler chickens carry a Step 4 rating from the Global Animal Partnership (GAP), a non-profit group of producers, retailers, animal advocates and scientists that are working toward improving farm animal welfare. GAP has developed a “5-Step Animal Welfare Rating” program that assesses the level of animal welfare both on-farm and during transport. The multi-tiered program promotes continuous improvement in animal handling. The Free Ranger broilers are raised with pasture-centered, animal-welfare-friendly farming practices. The Free Ranger line is a slower growing chicken that thrives both inside and outdoors.