Travis Stockstill, also known as the "American Butcher," is a butcher. His great grandfather was also a butcher. Travis remembers going to his great grandfathers ranch as a child and thinking how beautiful the ranch lifestyle was; it made him want to be a goucho (Spanish gentleman who rides a horse) when he grew up. Ironically, Travis was a vegetarian for 12 years of his life. It wasn't until he was volunteering his time in Sir Lanka, teaching children how to speak English, that he realized a large percentage of the world is vegetarian, not by choice. Most dietary decisions are a Western luxury. Travis ate his first piece of meat after 12 years, when the family he was staying with saved up over a weeks' worth of pay to "treat" him. It was a wild boar.
After the housing market took a dive in 2008, Travis's oldest brother persuaded him to sell everything he owned, move to the East Coast, and work in a slaughterhouse. He said, if Travis gave him 2 years of his life, he would get him the skills to work anywhere in the country during any economy. So he did. His first day was a 12 hour shift scrapping pig faces after the hair was burned with a brush torch. It was the beginning of winter in Southern Vermont and pigs blood was freezing on the floor beneath his feet. After the last carcass was pushed into the blast cooler, his brother made him clean out the holding pens. This was not only the hardest work he had done in his life but also the most humbling. Every day, six days a week, he would carpool with his brother and his brother would say, "There will be a time when we will be driving the other direction." To this day, Travis often quotes his brother when any seemingly overwhelming tasks present themselves to his crews.
Once he reached the glass ceiling on the kill floor, he was put in charge of the poultry slaughter at the plant. Travis took the team from processing 300 birds in a day, to 1000 birds, under USDA inspection and on a traditional line. On the days they didn't process birds, Travis had to opportunity to work with John Steins, who he now considers his mentor. John was the plants quality control manager, 3rd generation butcher, a ranch owner, and half deaf. That meant that every conversation they had was him yelling at Travis.
Travis implemented systems that took the plant from 12 head of cattle to 40 head of cattle in a days' work. This included proper training and staffing, employee incentive programs, and a clear line of communication to the USDA regarding all CCPs'. These changes also increased pigs from 28 in a day with overtime, to 64 in a day without overtime. Aforementioned, Lamb production went from 35 to 94. He no longer needed to be reassured as to how long a days' work would actually consist of .
In the summer of 2013, Travis was recruited for a job at Lindy and Grundy as the result of his Instagram account "American Butcher." In his short time there, he increased productivity by 75% on beef, 30% on pigs, and 10% on chickens. In reality, their walk-in wouldn't have been able to hold any more than that! The Huffington Post named it the best butcher shop in America, it also won Star Chefs, and he butchered at Cochon 555. Travis was approached by Cook Pigs at the same time he was feeling constricted and longing to go back into processing. He felt he was given a golden ticket. He gets to open a processing facility while also utilizing the artesinal skills he acquired at Lindy and Grundy.
In his spare time he enjoys fishing, swimming, and spending time with his fiancé. And even though he has yet to become a goucho, Travis takes great pride in his work and only hopes to be as strong as his great grandfather who spent his last days breaking beef at 90.