In a post-Thanksgiving turkey love feast, Mike (www.millsidefarm.com) and Grady (www.gradyphelan.com) discuss cooking techniques including splatchcock and chicken ballotine preparations. Cooking and eating your product makes for great marketing stories. We transition to winter marketing, and we tackle the frozen chicken stigma, especially when dealing with chefs.
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Cobb Creek Farm in Hillsboro, TX, is looking for an intern. Contact Grady, if you're interested.
What makes a guy quit his New York City job on the Howard Stern show, sell everything he owns to bicycle across the US, and then start his mid-life farming career. That's the summary of John Suscovich's self-described quarter-life crisis. John is the Farm Manager at Camp Roads Farm in Connecticut and host of the Growing Farms Podcast.
In this episode, Mike and John talk through John's transition to farming. Over the course of four years, he has gone from a trial batch of 40 broilers in year one to raising as many as 2,400 meat birds and up to 350 laying hens. John primarily markets through a chicken CSA, and we spend a fair amount of time talking about marketing birds.
John can be found at:
In episode 12 of Pastured Poultry Talk, Grady (gradyphelan.com) and Mike (millsidefarm.com) used a profit of $5 per bird to calculate the paypack on equipment purchases, particularly pasture shelters. In this episode, we walk you through the "how to price your pastured poultry" to determine what you need to charge in order to realize a $5 profit margin (or any profit margin, for that matter).
So, grab your pencil and calculator and join us. In this episode, Grady is quick on the calculator and crunches numbers as soon as they hit his ears, or so it seems.
Grady and Mike, despite having different production scales and methods, have similar costs in many areas. Find out where they differ and how that difference influences the production cost, which influences the profitable selling price.
This is a second part to Mike Badger's Poultry Politics workshop at the October Sustainable Poultry Network Conference in Wilmot, Ohio. Eric Pawlowski, Sustainable Agriculture Educator, at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association makes a cameo appearance is this part of the talk, as well. We're discussing the value of animal welfare certifications, including certified organic. This is an edited version of the talk.
This is an excerpt of Mike Badger's Poultry Politics workshop from the Sustainable Poultry Network Conference in Wilmot, OH in October 2015. Mike is joined briefly by Eric Pawlowski, Sustainable Agriculture Educator, at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association. Turn your speakers up, the audio is clear, but may be low depending on your device.
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This episode features an edited version of Mike's Pastured Poultry Husbandry and Management presentation at the Sustainable Poultry Network Conference. The SPN conference was held in Wilmot Ohio in October 2015.
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We're All interested in Producing Better Meat
In this episode a tired Grady and Mike debrief their weeks. Mike traveled to Wilmot, OH to the Sustainable Poultry Network's conference where he presented a variety of poultry topics. In this episode, Mike chats about the heritage chicken challenge in terms of carcass yields.
Is it worth it to raise the chickens to 18 weeks versus 16? Grady does a great job connecting chickens to cows and tires.
Grady wrapped up a first week of processing at Cobb Creek and discovered one of the coolest parts of working with other producers and their birds; the opportunity to teach and learn. We chat about feather growth problems, feet problems, and diagnosing problems from the gutting table. And Grady reminds us, "When you're making the best profit, you also have the best husbandry and animal welfare."
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Cobb Creek's Texas inspected poultry processing facility is now open and processing birds. In this episode, Grady talks us through some of the things he learned and let's us know how he's setup. We talk about flow, bacteria, HAACP, food safety and much more.
Check them out at www.cobbcreekfarm.com.
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Grady and Mike discuss the USDA's Fall 2015 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan. The plan mandates a 24 hour depopulation requirement from the time the flock tests positive, and it authorizes ventilation shutdown as a way to suffocate and kill the surviving birds in the barn.
We then spend some time talking about Avian Influenza and its risks, which leads us to the ultimate questions. Is AI exposing the vulnerability of industrial chicken production? Forget sustainable. Is mass produced poultry production even stable enough to feed us?
At the end of the episode, Grady announces that his Texas state inspected facility (www.cobbcreekfarm.com) is ready for business, and he shares some great advice about pouring concrete to handle his waste water, which he collects for reuse. We'll take up the rest of the conversation in episode 23.
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For the first time in public, Mike (millsidefarm.com) announces that he is retiring the mobile processing service. That sparks a conversation between Grady and Mike on enterprise analysis in general.
Grady draws on his Ranching For Profits education while Mike draws on a transformational concept of "quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers," Seth Godin.
We kick around the idea of quitting, which Godin argues is not only ok, but it's important to know when to quit. You can read all about quitting in The Dip, a book by Godin.
Grady is still looking for an intern for Cobb Creek Farm. If you're interested in becoming a part of a growing pastured poultry farm, contact Grady (gradyphelan.com).
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A listener asks about the regulations of selling eggs at market. It's different by state of course, but we cover the hightlights of what's required in the context of Oklahoma, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Important questions arise from this discussion, such as "will your market support your expected volume of egg sales and exactly how clear are those regulations anyway?"
In the second half of the show, we talk about planting cover crops for poultry. This is a wildly popular question. Is there a good answer?
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Grady opens his Texas slaughter house for business, and he's looking for a new apprentice. Apprentices, can go to eagerfarmer.com. Mike's been processing with a group of chefs-in-training at a local-to-him college. So it seems appropriate to spend time answering some really great processing questions from the Pastured Poultry Talk audience.
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Mike or Grady mentioned the following resources duringt the show:
Mike (http://www.millsidefarm.com) and Grady (http://www.gradyphelan.com) respond to a listener question about stocking density inside a daily move broiler shelter. But does a simple question have a simple answer?
And how do you know if your expensive feed is paying dividends? Mike relays a story about two separate chicken flocks. One fed a carefully formulated ration and another fed a home-grown feed with a "found-online" ration. One of the single biggest investments in your flock will be feed, so it makes financial sense to cut that cost; however, do you know the impacts various quality feeds have on your flock?
If we follow Grady's advice about collecting data, we'll be able to intelligently justify and quantify the results of our feed choices.
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Cody Hopkins of Grassroots Farmer Cooperative and Falling Sky Farm joins Mike Badger and Grady Phelan to talk about the power of farming friends. In it's second year of operation, the cooperative expects to market 70,000 broilers, 2,000 broilers, 400 hogs, and 60 head of beef.
Cody and his wife Andrea are first generation farmers who started in 2007 on rented land. They went from renting 40 to 250 acres. In 2010, they were full time farmers and encountered all the problems first generation farmers do including buying land, growing quickly, and cash flow.
A really important benefit was that they had an informal network of livestock farmers in Arkansas that enabled bulk feed purchases, collaboration, and support. It pushed them to be better farmers.
"It made more sense to work together than to see each other as competition," says Cody.
That informal network of beginning farmers teamed up with Heifer International to build a sustainable, robust value chain that would help farmers around the state of Arkansas. And the informal network was formalized into the Grass Roots Cooperative in 2014.
Heifer has helped with strategic relationships, creative funding sources, market development and more.
Listen to the full episode to hear Cody's thoughts on competition, quality control, marketing, production, financing, apprentice farm memberships, difficult cooperative members, and much more.
Have a question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and Grady and Mike will answer it on a future episode. Please don't forget to pop into iTunes and give us a review.
Got a question? Send it to email@example.com. And if you like the show, give us a review on iTunes.
Find out what you can do with those extra parts.Dr. Beal sees the leftover parts as a opportunity for pastured poultry producers. In her small animal practice, over 80 percent of her clients fed some sort of fresh and raw diets.
Grady and Susan cover the following topics:
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In part 2 of Mike's interview with Jim Adkins of the Sustainable Poultry Network, we talk about:
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Mike interviews Jim Adkins of the Sustainable Poultry Network (SPN). According to Jim, SPN is not a backyard chicken club; it's aggressive at getting the old heritage and standard bred poultry back into the martketplace.
We talk about:
SPN–USA is all about creating local and regional food movements, specifically with standard-bred heritage poultry for meat and eggs. Check 'em out and let Jim know you found him through Pastured Poultry Talk.
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Mike received a question from someone asking how someone could afford Grady's "Immaculate Chicken Houses." We spend most of the episode justifying the investment in infrastructre. How many chickens do you think you need to payback the investment in a Mobile Range Coop? Listen to find out.
In our tip of the week, Mike shares some wisdom about chicken crates.
Grady starts a poultry tip of the day (maybe that should that be week), and for his first tip, he talks about selecting and using brooder bedding.
Mike and Grady respond to a question submitted by producer Seth Stallings. Seth raises broilers in Oklahoma where state regulations prohibit the sale of more than 1,000 exempt processed broilers annually. He's three hours (one way) away from USDA processing and needs to transport feed. There in lies the risk. The reward is an untapped market.
Seth's perfectly detailed analysis demonstrates the business of pastured poultry and encapsulates the decision making process of successful farms. We break Seth's question down and offer our insights.
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Mike speaks with Arkansas producer Terrell Spencer, aka Spence, about farming, military, and life.
Everyone has a story and in this episode, Spence shares his story as a veteran turned farmer. He credits his farming path to an Iraqi farmer he observed while on patrol. As he transitioned to life on the farm, he found his therapy in an ax and a chainsaw. He found faith and support in his community.
Now a big part of the Spence's story is his eagerness to mentor other vets through the Farmer Veteran Coalition.
He started his current poultry business with 30 hens. Now the farm employs Spence and another full-time employee while focusing on poultry. They start between 800-1000 broilers every two weeks from mid-April through December and manage 200 layers.
Spence is a fixture in the pastured poultry community, offering advice to APPPA members and veterans in addition to consulting services. He is the current Vice President of APPPA.
We end the conversation with a simple question, "how has your pastured poultry business changed?" Feed, chicks, and experience are given. But it's the people Spence relies on.
"A farm will do everything in it's power to become the most important thing in your life." -- Spence.
Nearly 20 years ago, the Hale family started with 100 chickens in the first year, and now they're projected to raise, process, and direct-market 70,000 broilers. In this producer profile, Grady Phelan talks with third generation farmer David Hale about the growth of Windy Meadows Farm.
What's the key to David's success? There are many, but at the center of the success is a clear division of labor that allows one person to focus on a specific area, such as production, hatching, processing, and marketing. The Hales make it a family affair, but it's a cooperative model that could be adopted by any group of producers, regardless of surname.
Grady and Mike pickup where we left off in episode 7, chatting about a wide range of poultry topics. We start the show off talking about access to feed. "Cheap feed is usually not worth it," says Grady. What does Grady use instead of corn in his ration?
The idea of purchasing feed in bulk leads us to talk about producer cooperation, or the lack thereof. Are you guilty of trying to do it all? Try collaboration and aggregration.
To wrap up the episode, we talk about the business of pastured poultry. Did you know it's not a get rich scheme?
In this episode, Grady and Mike catch up and talk about the weather and pen construction. We ponder high death losses. What's acceptabe and why do you accept it? Grady recommends we pay attention to the chicken and learn about them. Do it thousands of times.
Then we talk about the egg shortage brought to light by none other than the venerable Whattaburger. The egg shortage we talk about is caused by Avian Influenza, which is different than the egg shortage most pastured producers know--the shortage where more and more customers come to consume delicuous pastured-raised eggs.
How else is the bird flu going to affect pastured? We talk prices, production, turkey, and more.
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Henlight co-founders Edward Silva and Bryan Pon join Patured Poultry Talk. Henlight is a solar-powered supplemental lighting system designed specifically for pastured poultry producers. We talk about why hens need supplemental light and whether or not it's humane.
Grady steals Mike's question and asks Henlight about the poultry specific wavelengths and the LEDs used by the lighting system. The conversation ends with more eggs.