Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Anatomy of a Chicken House

Today I thought that I would tell you all about my chicken houses! I don't want anyone to get confused and think that when I talk about my chickens, that I have an oversized chicken coop in the backyard!
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We have 4 broiler houses and raise chickens for the Koch Foods Co. Most people have never heard of Kochs (pronounced cook), but they bought part of Tyson a few years ago. Having broiler houses means we raise the birds for their meat. There are also pullet houses (roosters) and layer houses (eggs), but we only raise broilers. Kochs likes a 4 lb. bird, so we average keeping our birds around 35 days. After those are caught, we have about 2-3 weeks to get ready for baby chickens again!
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Each of our 4 chicken houses are 510' long and 43' wide.
The size of your houses depends on how many birds they place you with. Smaller houses get less birds, bigger houses get more birds. We generally get anywhere from 32,700 to 34,400 birds per house. While we're looking at this picture, I'll go ahead and tell you what that black stuff is on the side of the chicken house! On both sides of the front of each chicken house is a "Cool Cell" pad. It is like a giant radiator for the chickens. When the temperature in the houses gets hot enough, water will trickle down that black stuff and at least 6 tunnel fans (which I'll explain later) will come on and suck it through the house.
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This is a control room. There is one of these at the center of each one of the houses. It's the "brains" of the chicken houses.
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These are the controllers. This is what controls everything inside the chicken houses. You can check temperatures, water consumption, humidity, all kinds of things. You can control how many fans are on, what the temperature needs to be (which by the way, starts out at 92 degrees, ends up about 67 when we catch), even how bright the lights are in the houses. The box on the right is the backup box. If the box on the left gets struck by lightning or just goes kaput the backup box takes over. That little box on the right with the 2 light switches under it, is the dimmer. It controls the light brightness in the house. The older the birds, the dimmer the lights need to be to prevent heart attacks. When the lights are bright, the birds flutter and jump around like crazy, but when they are dim, they are much more calm. If you turn the lights completely off, which happens a few hours each night, the birds will sit down and hardly move at all. ----------

This is the other wall in the control rooms. It has all the water lines, water overflow alarms, water filters, water pressure gauges, and our medicator. The medicator is that green thing with the hoses. You put some medication, such as liquid aspirin, into a 5 gallon bucket, stick that clear hose into it and turn the valves so that water will flow through the medicator. The medicator pumps 1 ounce of medication per 1 gallon of water that the birds drink. The birds are small now, so they are only drinking about 400 gallons per day per house, but by the time we catch, they can drink 2,500 gallons a day per house. You can also see the foot bath on the floor by the door. We have to disinfect our shoes everytime we walk in each chicken house to keep from spreading any disease or bacteria from house to house. Above that, on the wall, is our mortality chart. We have to keep up with how many birds die each day per house.

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*NOTE* Sorry for horrible picture quality, this is a chicken house, not a photography studio! It's due to the 100 or so lightbulbs in each house. Every other lightbulb is 100 watt, and the other lightbulbs are 60 watt. All that bright/dim/bright/dim junk doesn't work well with my camera!
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When you walk into the chicken houses from the control room, this is what you see in the center of the houses.

Those gray things are the feed hoppers where the feed comes in to fill the feed lines up. That big black pipe is called a migration pipe. There are 3 per house and we seperate the chickens into 4 sections. This is to keep them from piling up. If it gets too hot in the houses, chickens pile up, too cold in the houses, chickens pile up, chickens get sick, chickens pile up...so you want to prevent as many chickens from piling up on top of each other as possible because they smother.
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Here's a closer picture of some of the feed lines and drinker lines. We have 2 feed lines that run the length of the house and 8 water lines. 4 water lines go to one end of the house, and 4 water lines go to the other end of the house. We raise all these lines as the birds get bigger so they can reach it better. Theres a control pan at the end of each feed line that when the birds empty it, the feed runs again and the lines fill back up.
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When the chickens are small, like they are now, we put out feed lids. 300 per house to be exact.

Feed lids are placed between 2 feed pans (those red and gray things) and a "chickmate" (that red tube thing) is flipped so that feed can run into the lids. It helps get more feed to the chicks because some may not be able to reach in the feed pans yet. By the time we're ready to turn the birds "full house", we've pulled all those feed lids up and flipped the chickmates back over.
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This is standing in the center of the house looking toward the back of the house.


This is standing in the center of the house looking toward the front of the house.
The chickens are small now, so we only keep them in the center 250' of the house. Thats why it looks so dark in the other parts of the house. It's called "center house brooding". In the winter, there is a plastic curtain we can roll down to keep the heat in just the center part of the house. When the chickens get big enough, we open up the migration pipes and let them fill up the entire house. Remember the every other lightbulb 100 watt/60 watt I mentioned? When we go full house, the 100 watt lightbulbs are turned off, and just the 60 watts are used.
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Keeping the houses a balmy 90 degrees at the moment (talk about sweating to death!) are these things.

It's called a brooder. There are 22 per house. They come on when a temperature sensor in their heat zone, falls below "set temperature".
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At the very back of the house are the tunnel fans.

There are 10 in all, 5 on each side. They are 48" fans and how many come on depends on the temperature in the houses. They are called tunnel fans because they suck air through the houses like a tunnel. Air comes in through "vent boards" (which I don't have a picture of) that are located where the ceiling and walls join, and they open every so often to let fresh air in. The fans and vent boards run on a timed cycle so they will be in synche. Otherwise the fans might come on and without the vent boards opening, it would suck the roof in! There are also 4 exhaust fans (that dark square on the back wall). 2 in the front, 2 in the back. They are 36" fans and are usually used when you don't need that much air pulling through the houses.


Between houses 1 and 2, and also between 3 and 4, we have 3 feed bins.
Each feed bin holds 18 tons of feed. We open them one at a time and they supply both houses feed. When the birds are big, 2 houses of chickens can eat 10 tons of feed per day! So we get a lot of feed deliveries!
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Also between chicken houses 2 and 3, is our generator shed.
The generator is there to run the houses in case of power failure. You better make sure it works to, because if the power goes out and the generator doesn't come on, you may have thousands of dead chickens in a matter of minutes.
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Out in front of the chicken houses is our freezer shed.
The freezer is where we put all of our dead chickens. A company called American Proteins empties it with a truck that looks like a garbage truck every week or so. They take it and turn it into dog food. Yum.
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So, now that yall know how much goes into growing chickens, everybody go eat some chicken!!

103 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing about what you do. Fascinating! I grew up next to a chicken farm but they raised mostly layers and sold the eggs.

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  2. This is the closest I've ever come to How Chickens Are Made! Thanks for the peek into what it takes- I had no idea! Someday, we're going to take a roadtrip and pop into see it all in person! (We'll help you 'chicken' in return!)

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  3. Love taking your tours.
    You give so much info and pictures to go along with it all.

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  4. Thanks for the tour. Never been in a chicken house and had no ideal so much was involved. You have a top notch set up and looks pricey.

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  5. Knowing that you raise chickens for Tyson makes me feel good about eating that. I helped support you with my dinner tonight! : ) I love all the stuff I learn from this blog. I find what you do fascinating.

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  6. Yikes! I didn't know raising chickens was so complicated, but then you have A LOT of chickens! I wondered what you did with the dead ones-good to know they don't go to waste and there are happy dogs eating them. No mention of what you do with all the POO, but I guess that's another edition right? Fascinating for sure!

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  7. Wow! Never too old to learn something new ... had no idea ... having chicken tonight.

    Happy Mother's Day ~
    TTFN ~ Hugs, Marydon

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  8. Do the chickens ever see daylight?

    How do you keep the bedding clean?

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  9. They see daylight when they arrive and when they leave. We have a lighting program set similar to how the sun comes up and goes down. We clean out the chicken houses to the ground, once a year. We spread fresh shavings about 5 inches deep. We may add some shavings throughout the year as needed.

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  10. I do not intend to be rude by any means with my comment. This is your blog and you can write whatever you want, but I would have to say that you probably forgot to mention that you probably have to wear a mask when entering the houses. And what about a picture of when they are a full "35 days." I'm sure those chickens cannot even move. I also cannot believe that no one has found it shocking that you medicate the chickens. Do they receive their antibiotics with that liquid Tylenol? People! You really should watch the documentary "Food Inc." then you can really see where your chicken comes from. I commend you though for your clean facilities. I just think that chickens should not be raised in a chicken house.

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    1. Well how do you think they should be raised. Do you want to raise them in your backyard? What is the ideal way to raise chickens? I'd love to hear your ideas.

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  11. Thanks for your comment. I sometimes wear a mask, yes, but that's because I don't like feathers flying up my nose. I also have taken plenty of pictures when our birds are ready to sell. They can move around freely, and get plenty of food and water. There are no antibiotics in liquid Tylenol. If I were a chicken and I felt bad, I would appreciate the ocassional dose of Tylenol or Electrolytes to help me feel better. I have seen Food Inc. and I have no problem with where my chicken comes from because I know the truth. I know all about those who want free range, "happy" chickens. Well, thats good and all, but producing chickens like we do helps keep the cost of chicken low and feeds the world.

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    1. LOL shhhhh you might confuse them with the facts :D

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    2. Your chickens are low cost because you externalize costs. For example, you don't pay for the ammonia air pollution or arsenic water pollution. Spending too much time in a chicken house without a mask causes pulmonary fibrosis, kind of like asbestosis. If this is your primary source of income I'm guessing you are deep in debt. You must feel stuck in this lifestyle and way of farming. I feel for you. If you would like help I may be to share some legal and educational resources. If anyone reading this feels they have no choice but to make a contract with Kochs or Tyson please reply and I will share some alternatives. Best wishes.

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    3. A good resource to start with is the Weston A Price Foundation. If you contact them, they will give you advice.

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    4. Thank you, Anonymous, for offering your resources, but I do not feel "stuck in this lifestyle." We signed up for it. Yes, we have debt, but we are well on our way to paying it off and are actually ahead of schedule.
      I don't understand what you mean by "you don't pay for the ammonia air pollution or arsenic water pollution." Chickens, cows, pigs, etc. all pee and poop, so they will all have a smell. And if we were polluting the water supply with arsenic, we would be shut down. We are way over regulated to make sure things like that do not happen. I also know many chicken farmers who have been farming for years, and none of them have horrible diseases. But, Thanks for your comment.

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  12. And this is why I choose to be vegan. ugh...so sad how animals are treated on factory farms like these.

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    1. Good for you on the vegan. That means theres more fried chicken for me.

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  13. We are a family farm. There is nothing factory about us. Most people who think we "abuse" our animals have never even stepped foot on a farm. If we were cruel and treated our animals badly, we wouldn't make money. Our chickens are fed, watered, and kept in a climated controlled environment away from predators. I would say that's a pretty good life.

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    1. only about 35 days to raise this chickens to 4 pounds . . . yeah you are a factory! and the fact that you are working for tyson is even more horrifying!

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    2. If you read properly, you would know that we are contract growers for Koch Foods, not Tyson. I don't believe myself, my husband, and a couple of employees that occasionally help us qualify as a "factory". If it wasn't for farms like ours, half the world would starve. Mass production of chicken helps to keep costs down and ensures there's enough chicken to go around. Not everyone has the luxury of having their own yard chickens or can afford "organic, free range" chicken.

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    3. That idiotic movie was pure bs. I have never seen a factory farm in my life and i've been all over the us. I am guessing there are some but i've never seen any and your operation is aweome. Lots of room for the chickens and a most excellent setup for climate.


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    4. fac·to·ry
      ˈfakt(ə)rē/
      noun
      noun: factory; plural noun: factories

      1. a building or group of buildings where goods are manufactured or assembled chiefly by machine.

      - a person, group, or institution that continually produces a great quantity of something specified.

      The automation, small labor force, and large, specific output of your operation is what makes it a factory.

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  14. Wow! That is quite a setup! I'm impressed!

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  15. What a nice, well run farm! We raise breeding stock chickens, under a contract with a major breeder, to supply chicks to growers similar to yourself. It is interesting to see farms where our future chicks may end up some day. Our farm equipment that feeds and controls the climate of our birds is very similar to yours. I am proud to be an American farmer, helping to feed the world a healthy, low cost product. Our birds are safe and well-fed. They live in an environment that provides more than many human beings in this world are allowed, which is regretfully a very sad state of affairs for those people, but nothing to be concerned about in regard to these well cared for animals.

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  16. well this is commendable.... the farm looks great and well managed... great work... but raising 34000 chicks must be daunting :) I too own a flock on 1000 but dont have equipment like yours.

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  17. Great info. Curious about the feed though. - Each feed bin holds 18 tons of feed with 6 bins in use at a time = 108 T feed per cycle,
    - Feed is used at different rates based on growth,
    - 33,000 birds/house = 132,000 birds per flock for 35 days (grow) with 21 day (clean/rest) or a 56 day turnaround (~6 flocks/year),
    - 6 flocks x 108 T = 648 - 650T feed!
    Q: How many different formulas do you have to feed per cycle/flock (based on growth/size)?
    Q: How do you keep track of feed types that are in bins?
    Q: How do you know how much feed is in the bins?
    Q: How do you know when to order more, and of what type of feed to order for the bins?
    Q: What is the make-up of chick/chicken feed?

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    1. Great questions! Let me see if I can answer them all, lol. There are 3 types of feed. Starter, Grower, and Withdrawal. We have colored magnets that stick on the bins to show what feed is where. Green-Starter, Yellow-Grower, Red-Withdrawal. Most of the time we only have one type of feed in the bins. You can climb a ladder and peek in the top of the bins to see how much feed you have, but we have a contraption our neighbor built that we use. It is a long pvc pipe with a metal rod sticking out with a golf ball on it. We peck the side of the bins to see where the feed is at. The funnel holds 3-4 tons, and each ring on the bin is 3 tons. We have a field man that comes and checks on our chickens weekly. Sometimes he orders feed, sometimes the feed mill just sends some out, and sometimes if we are getting low, we will call and get some delivered. The type of feed we get depends on what age the birds are. Starter is for around the first 18 days or so, Grower is for around 18-27 days, and Withdrawal is for the last week to 10 days. The feed is mostly made of corn. Sometimes wheat and even cookie meal. There are also vitamins mixed in. Hope this answered everything!

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  18. Hey steph, from chicken farming alone, do y'all make pretty good profit from those 4 houses? I'm graduating high school now and I'm going to school to study poultry science, and I want to end up being a poultry grower with broiler houses but I wanted to know if it really is a profitable business? In the future is like to have like 6 broiler houses, also where do you find employees if you were to leave on a trip for a few days??

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    1. If broiler houses are going to be your only source of income, you need at least 6 of the 43'x510' houses or 4 of the bigger houses. There is a certain amount of money we need to make each flock in order to make our loan payment and pay bills. Anything left over is profit. Sometimes this amount varies greatly depending on how many flocks you grow a year, the weather, and any maintenance issues. You need to make sure you have enough money in case an emergency arises. Most poultry house loans require 30% down. We started out with just us working in the chicken houses (Lance, myself, and Lance's uncle), but now we have employees. I would definitely advise getting at least part time help because there is A LOT of work involved. We have trained our employees, but many farmers around here find help by talking with other farmers and even farmers helping each other during clean out etc. I'm actually not sure if I know anyone who solely does chicken houses, most have other jobs, have row crops like us, or at least have cows/hay. If that is all you are going to do make sure you crunch the numbers!

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  19. Oh okay well I know that chicken houses are very expensive so once you pay them off you could live off of the chicken farming alone right? I know a couple who owns 4 houses and they just paid off their new truck, and they're building a new house on their land so I know chicken farming, after the payments are paid off, can be very profitable!

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    1. Yes, once you pay them off you could make a living off of them. Poultry loans are usually for 15 years. You could pay them off early if you're lucky. Just remember that after 15 years, you may have to update a few things, which will eat into your profit.

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  20. I have lived on my land for over 45 years. Two mega chicken houses justed went into operation on a neighbors land 200 yards from my back yard. Because of the smell we can no longer enjoy life where we are. My neighbor lives three miles from where he built these houses so they can enjoy life outdoors whenever they want.

    I know that meat has to come from somewhere but what about MY rights to be able to breath clean air. If I had moved next to these chicken houses I could not say a thing but he built them three miles from where he lives,right next to me. What about my rights?

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    1. A person has a right to do whatever on their own land, whether it be build chicken houses, set up a trailer park, start a hog farm, or make a junkyard. Most poultry houses do not smell all the time. Maybe plant a row a trees if it's that bothersome?

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    2. This is a very disingenuous attitude. The natural resources that you use for your farm are shared with everyone in your community. The air, water and soil that pass into and out of your operation will be used again by someone else. It is your moral responsibility to ensure that that what you do does not poison your neighbor's resources.
      Because people have often acted irresponsibly for their own benefit we have to have large, usually governmental, entities (EPA, FDA, etc.) to create and enforce what should be simple rules. If individuals would take a more responsible attitude we wouldn't need to have these giant pieces of government looking over our shoulders.

      For my part, I have worked and lived on a cattle farm for many years and the worst time of year by far for odors is when chicken manure is put down for fertilizer. I can't imagine what it would be like to live next to one of these houses.

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    3. I live next to our houses, its not like we built them in someone else's yard and moved far away. We follow all the rules and regulations with our poultry farm, and we are not "poisoning " anyone.

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  21. I was doing some target pratice this weekend and the owner of the houses told me it was disturbing his chickens. I told him the smell is disturbing me. He told me to move. I'm opening a gun range on my property ASAP. If he has anything to say about it I will refer him to your reply.

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    1. My husband and I are thinking of getting a couple of houses. My husband will keep his job for ins. purposes and I will quit mine to run them. My worries are can I do it myself and do you give up all your freedom? I like the idea of being able to be home and not driving 45 minutes to a job everyday. So any comments from a woman's point of view will be helpful. We have toured a couple of houses of people we know to see how it works per say, but would like more input.

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    2. I quit my job when we built chicken houses. We also row crop, so my husband is always around. We have expanded our farm enough that we were able to hire somebody to work in the chicken houses for us. But, I worked them daily for almost 6 years. A woman can do the day to day work. Lots of women do. You will definitely need help though. Cleaning out houses yearly, setting up houses for a new flock, and fixing repairing things. If you are very tractor/equipment savvy and know how to work on motors/augers/etc, you might not need as much help. But, at least some part time help a few days a month, I would recommend. Being able to be home is awesome, but something I ran in to (and one reason, I don't work in them daily anymore) is getting a babysitter. It was hard to have someone keep our son every morning, even on weekends and holidays. You have to answer alarms throughout the day and night, so if it was nap time, either wake them or get another sitter. If no kids or they are older, that won't matter. If it is only you or your husband running them, you will be tied down when you have chickens. You get a normal 2 weeks between flocks, and it takes almost that long to get ready for the next flock of chickens. Sometimes you get longer out times and you can get a few days "rest". This is why I like having someone trained to work in them. We can leave and go out of town without worry if we need to. We don't make a habit of it, but we do take a vacation once or twice a year. Just remember, the chickens (or the chicken company) doesn't care the weather, time of day, or if it's a holiday! It's a big commitment! Hope this helps!

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    3. I bought my home and 90 acres about 40 years ago to row crop and enjoy real farming, now there is about 14 chicken house around me and it is miserable, you can't go outside for the stinch , dust, and noise. forget keeping your house clean on the inside, or your pool clean enough to swim in and forget outdoor cookouts. This in my opinion is not real farming, it all commercialized 6 weeks in 6 weeks out. They couldn't be a real farmer, I say put your gun range up and invite all the people you can to come fire and practive

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    4. I have never heard of someone being so miserable being neighbor to a poultry farm. I live on one and am surrounded by countless others. Are the exhaust fans in your front yard? We also row crop and use litter to fertilize with. If you consider chicken farmers not real farmers, I hope you never eat any chicken bought from a store or restaurants.

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    5. Well you have a conflict in you're complaint about those houses. If they are broiler houses then you really can't have allot of stink and dust at the same time. If they stink while birds are in them then that is a clue to poor air management and the floors are wet thus little or no dust. If you get allot of dust then they have good air quality and the floors are dry but that would also mean they need too dim their lights more because the birds are to active stirring up that dust. When the farms are run properly you have little of either. Now with that said, I ran a ten house farm like the one you see here and when I sold out I would close my houses up as tight as possible and let the litter cook. This serves several purposes, one it cooks any bacteria out of the litter because if the houses are tight that litter will get hot enough that it can raise the air temp in the house to over 150 degrees. It helps keep bugs down, it super dries the litter making it smell Less when cleaned out but also makes a very dry comfortable bed for the next flock. But when I purge the houses after this process the ammonia is very high the houses after being cooked off the litter so if your close for about three hours it's going to stink to high heaven but it doesn't hang around after purge. My closest 2 houses were exactly 30 yards from the house and the tunnel fans were on that wend and we never had the problems you are describing. I've had many fish fries and cookouts with friends and family and never a single complaint. Of course I didn't purge houses while I was doing those things, lol. As for water and air pollution...that's a loss of horse hockey, that's a dreamed up line of bull that PETA and ASPCA fanatics come up with too try and get farms shut down. Do your homework and do it on reputable sites and places like actual university publications and not on fanatical websites. Also chickens are not feed antibiotics our steroids and hasn't been for years, and I mean lots of years. They get too the size they get to so fast because of breeding and feed ingredients. This can be proven by simply reducing the amount of fat that is in the feed. This alone can cripple a birds growth by several days. As for feed ingredients I can answer that to but keep in mind that the three types of feed mentioned will have varying amounts of these ingredients used. Meat and bone meal for fat and protein, straight fat oil for fat, corn for fat, soy bean meal for high protein. Cookie meal for fat and flavor. And sometimes substituted is wheat or barley but most sick too the ingredients above and also the mills use ddg which is dehydrated grains left over from fuel production. This is the same grain as above but being dehydrated makes the fat, vitamins and minerals concentrated making the feed much more nutritious with less bulk. I applaud the primal poster for taking the time too take the pictures and explain this business.

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  22. Thank you this helps, my kids are older (17and 15) and boys so that helps.lol Maybe things will work out so we can do this. Thank you for your input.

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  23. In what direction does one go to get started in this business.

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    1. I would suggest talking to neighbors or anyone you know with chicken houses in your area. They will know the best company to grow for her, local folks who build chicken houses, the best place for supplies, etc. Also talk to a local ag lender.

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  24. Someone wants to build two broiler houses in our area. The USDA is seeking public comments before issuing the loan or permit for the construction of these houses. The USDA has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). During my research I came across your blog, which is very informative and well documented, but I was concerned because you did not address the issues concerning the smells or what happens to the waste when you all clean the chicken houses "to the ground". I have no problem with the chicken industry or those that earn a living producing well managed and responsibly grown chickens. My concern is the odors. I live in a farming community and I know local farmers that use the waste from these chicken house to spread around their row fields, and when this happens the community's air quality suffers greatly. I must admit that the smell dissipates in a matter od days, but never the less is horrible while it last. My questions to you is this: What happens to your waste and does your neighbors complain about the smell? lf so, is your answer to them the same you gave earlier? Finally, are you all dealing with any legal issues concerning you broiler houses and the community? Thanks for you replies.

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    1. We live in a big farming community. Few people row crop like us, but many have chicken houses. I believe we once counted 80 houses within a few square miles of here. If you live here, you know in the spring, it may stink a few days. If litter is properly handled and cleaned out at the right time, and spread at the right time, it minimizes the smell. We spread our litter on our row crop ground in the spring. We have never had any legal trouble with our houses. When we were building them we did have a neighbor, who could see the houses from their house, try to get people to sign a petition to keep us from building. No one in the community would sign it because everyone either had their own or knew friends or relatives with poultry farms. The petition wouldn't have worked anyways because we were compliant with all laws and regulations. The neighbor, who we actually go to church with now, has since told us that the chicken houses aren't nearly as bad as they thought it would be and they rarely even smell them.

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    2. I live less than a 1000 feet from 14 large houses.. The biggest problem that we have is the smell they create when they are hauling the waste out.. It goes on for days and most of the property owners with pastureland buy it.. There is one pasture fairly close and when they spread it. It is very common to have the feathers from the waste stuck in your window screens

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    3. do everything in your power to stop it, if you don't you will regret it. You will never enjoy your home or outdoors at your home again, forget cookouts and friends over

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    4. I've always found it interesting that people will move to a farming environment and then COMPLAIN about farmers farming... lol. By the same token, those that move near an airport and then complain about the noise airplanes make, or those that move near power lines and then are concerned about the effects all that high energy going through those cables might have on their health etc. IMO if you don't like being around what farmers do, don't move to a farming environment. That's what cities are for!

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  25. Just wondering how much Litter a single house produces for fertilizer. Like how many acres of ground you can fertilize per house. I know this is a slightly open ended question but I am starting to research building some houses to open up opportunities for my family. I want to use the litter on my row crop acres as well.

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    1. Our four houses usually produce enough for about 500 acres, if that helps. It does depend on size of houses, how big your birds get, and how often you clean out.

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  26. wondering how far away from a processing plant such as koch for example will take a contract grower?

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    1. We are about 30ish miles from our processing plant. I'm thinking probably about 50 miles is the limit, but I'm sure there are exceptions.

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  27. who do i need to get in touch with at kock for some info and what is the phone #?

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    1. That depends what area you're in. I can give you info for the Gadsden, AL complex if that's what you need.

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  28. just hope those chicken houses aren't next to, or close to your house, they stink, it's noisy all night when they come to pick up the chickens, and dust in your house from the exhaust fans is impossible to control, and god forbid if you have a pool at your house or neighborhood because of the fecal matter in the air and water. There is always two sides to the story, I live on 90 acres and have 14 chicken houses close to me and it is a miserable life. So please make sure you don't build or buy close to chicken houses

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    1. I'm sorry you're having such a terrible time with your neighbor's chicken houses, but that is definitely not that case around here. Im not sure how close the houses are to you, our houses are 200 yards from our house and we never smell them. There are also around 80 chicken houses within a few square miles of our house, and I've never heard anyone speak of the problems your neighborhood has. My father in law has a pool across the road from our house, as do many neighbors, and no one has issues with "fecal matter".

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  29. We have 6 houses and cows/hay; it's very hard work. We rarely smell our houses, except at clean out time. What type of foot wear do you/your workers use? We have yet to find comfortable footwear that works well for chicken houses.

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    1. I would recommend any type of muck boot!

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    2. I would recommend any type of muck boot!

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  30. Thanks for the excellent description.

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  31. Chickens are no doubt great pet birds, but without protection they may be the reason for your tension. Hence get good chicken houses and protect them.

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  32. I love that you are trying to educate people with this page. I have a producer who is thinking about getting into the poultry industry and I will definitely share this blog with her. I am quite disgusted with the attitudes and ignorance of some of these comments, but you have answered them very professionally!

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  33. How many hours a day and how many people does it take to effectively run 4 broiler houses of chickens approximately

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    1. I would say daily, 2-2 1/2 hours, unless you need to repair something, turn out baby chicks full house, or get ready for catch. Getting the houses ready for new birds takes about a week unless it is time to clean out the litter which will take longer. One person could do the daily work, but two would be a lot faster especially when they get bigger or catching, cleaning out houses, etc.

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    2. I would say daily, 2-2 1/2 hours, unless you need to repair something, turn out baby chicks full house, or get ready for catch. Getting the houses ready for new birds takes about a week unless it is time to clean out the litter which will take longer. One person could do the daily work, but two would be a lot faster especially when they get bigger or catching, cleaning out houses, etc.

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  34. hello i am a poultry farmer as well my wife and my girls operate 10 broiler houses. thank you for your article and you have a awsome farm there by the pictures i see and very well maintained. I find it amazing at the number of negative coments it blows me away to hear people complain about what we do as they are drivng through the chik fila line at the same time and for the vegans guess what morons our chicken manuer is fertilizing your vegetables you eat cause chicken manuer is organic certified. listen if you dont like meat thats fine but the rest of the world loves chicken. now as far as hlw they are raised and treated you all would need another article on here explaining that us broilers farmers.get paid on performance of the bird. what that means is he or she who has the heaviest bird who eats theeast amount of feed with the least amount of fuel cost per pound makes the most money. it is in our best interest to treat our birds as kings and queens or we are eating peanut butter til our next flock settles.and as far as antibiotics go listen up people we dont use them unless our birds are very sick so the next time you or one of your children are very ill and need to go to the doctor and he gives you an antibiotic i want you to just suffer it out like you want these poor birds to. oh i bet you must think that birds free ranging in tje cold rain damp windy field dont get sick? well when they do what do you think they do for them. look people this lady here has tried to show everyone that we grow a bird in a great envirement as best we can making sure the birds live a great life for the time we have them. i commend you on this blog and thank you.

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  35. Thanks for the information and links you shared this is so should be a useful and quite informative!
    urban chickens

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  36. Sorry but it's just another CAFO, I feel sorry for your neighbors who are forced to smell that horrible stench. There is a much better way to raise chickens, two words Joel Salatin.

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    1. Have you ever lived near a poultry farm? Because there are about 85 poultry houses within a few square miles of my house and no one complains. As for Joel Salatin, there's not enough available land to raise chickens the way he wants to. We would have to convert crop land to chicken pastures. Then how would we raise enough crops? Maybe we should tell everyone to stop eating so much chicken. Buy a more expensive meat to eat, or just go vegetarian. Yeah, that'll work.

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    2. Have you ever lived near a poultry farm? Because there are about 85 poultry houses within a few square miles of my house and no one complains. As for Joel Salatin, there's not enough available land to raise chickens the way he wants to. We would have to convert crop land to chicken pastures. Then how would we raise enough crops? Maybe we should tell everyone to stop eating so much chicken. Buy a more expensive meat to eat, or just go vegetarian. Yeah, that'll work.

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  37. joel salatin haahahha now thats just funny u might get to eat chicken once a year. you are a city person no doubt and have no clue what it takes to feed a nation of people would love all poultry producers to stop all operations for one week and cattle and pork productions for one week. when there is no food for you then you would be singing a different tune. yes we are a cafo and we were here raising our birds long before city people started developing our land around us. i hope they do enjoy the smell of our farms.

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  38. joel salatin haahahha now thats just funny u might get to eat chicken once a year. you are a city person no doubt and have no clue what it takes to feed a nation of people would love all poultry producers to stop all operations for one week and cattle and pork productions for one week. when there is no food for you then you would be singing a different tune. yes we are a cafo and we were here raising our birds long before city people started developing our land around us. i hope they do enjoy the smell of our farms.

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  40. Thank you for all this great info. I have worked with poultry operations in Arkansas and offer a wonderful product that controls and manages bacteria, viruses, fungus. It is called Waste & Odor Remedy. It is 0's MSDS and will enhance the health of your flocks when placed in the medicators and pumped sprayed on your 'cake'. It has been also used at the College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, Mo. Your chickens will 'thrive' and your operations will have far less if not any arsenic as the beneficials will keep everything much more sanitary and safe. Sincerely, Chrissy Mann www.moldremedy.biz

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  41. Thank you for all this great info. I have worked with poultry operations in Arkansas and offer a wonderful product that controls and manages bacteria, viruses, fungus. It is called Waste & Odor Remedy. It is 0's MSDS and will enhance the health of your flocks when placed in the medicators and pumped sprayed on your 'cake'. It has been also used at the College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, Mo. Your chickens will 'thrive' and your operations will have far less if not any arsenic as the beneficials will keep everything much more sanitary and safe. Sincerely, Chrissy Mann www.moldremedy.biz

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  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  43. Hi Stephanie,
    Thank you for all this great info. I have worked with poultry operations in Arkansas and offer a wonderful product that controls and manages bacteria, viruses, fungus. It is called Waste & Odor Remedy. It is 0's MSDS and will enhance the health of your flocks when placed in the medicators and pumped sprayed on your 'cake'. It has been also used at the College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, Mo. Your chickens will 'thrive' and your operations will have far less if any arsenic at all as the beneficials will keep everything much more sanitary and safe. Also your flocks will drink more and cut back on the feed because of the superior water quality. Sincerely, Chrissy Mann www.moldremedy.biz

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  44. I understand the laws of supply and demand so I get the need for poultry "factories, "operations ", "houses" or whatever you want to call them. I have no idea of their effect on neighbors. My only issue is that the chickens be raised humanely and NATURALLY. Not jammed into hot houses unable to move around freely, being fed garbage feed or drugs to plump them up unnaturally. As long as that's being addressed, I'm good with it. How else would we all be able to have unlimited access without these "houses"? We do need them....my only concern is HOW they are doing it. If it's done right.....great!

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    1. I assure you the chickens have plenty of room to walk around. We have to have so many square foot per bird. The feed is made up of corn and wheat. There are no steroids or hormones given to poultry. In the event they need antibiotics, it is a very small amount and there is a withdrawal period before the birds are shipped to the processing plant.

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  45. Hi I want to know how much u need land for 10000 bird to grow and sell for meet

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    1. If you are wanting to grow commercially for an integrator like we do, I'm not sure they build houses that small anymore. Our houses are 43'x510' and hold around 33,000 birds. Those are about the smallest houses that I know of being built now. You have to have so many hundred feet border between your land line and the poultry house or you have to have your neighbors sign and approve them being built. If you're just talking about growing 10,000 birds on your property, well, I have no idea because that's a lot of birds to free range.

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  46. Lol wow, the comments. We raise ABF (antibiotic free) birds, and also live near our houses. We used to have organic backyard chickens, and still do eat organic, but I can tell you it'd be impossible to feed the world like that, not to mention most people couldn't afford it anyway. Since we switched to ABF birds, we have much higher mortality because we can't give them any medications. It's very frustrating to try so hard to raise healthy birds, and they still die. All this coming from me, someone that hasn't taken any kind of medication in 10 years cuz I prefer herbs instead. Hopefully technology will help us, but for now, medicated birds have much higher chance to survive. I think everybody will be heading towards organic or ABF in the future, but it's a long way off. Nice farm BTW :) Jon

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  47. My husband and I just made an offer on a poultry farm and are waiting to hear if the seller accepts as we speak! I was researching some different aspects of poultry farming and happened across your blog. Knowing how some people seem to feel about "poultry farmers" (eww dirty word! haha), I couldn't believe how open you were being with so many details of the business and I was very curious to see what the comments would be. Sure enough, there they were...stinky, cruel, unfair, disgusting, etc, etc. What really struck me was the way you continued to be honest, went on to answer even more probing questions and never apologized for doing what you do. Your farm looks meticulously cared for and it will be the standard to which I will measure my own success as a farmer. As for all the haters, the city sounds like the perfect spot for them! ;) Wishing you all the best! Carol

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  48. Could someone tell me how to unmount the motor to feed line in chicken broilers

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  49. What is the rate per pound does Koch pays for the chicken? Thanks for insightful info

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  50. As an old FFA guy from the late 60s and early 70s who was on two state poultry judging teams (don't ask me how I did at the national events-two words come to mind-not and good) and was the state poultry farmer of the year one time, I really enjoy coming to your site and see how much has changed and to a certain extent, how much has not changed.
    Now that factory farm has become a buzz phrase, it seems like people see modernization and confuse that with factory farming. When in fact it is these labor saving devices that make family farming possible. You know, farm aid stuff. Not understanding what they see I guess.
    Now I've been talking to some of the local growers and their integrator is going to the no antibiotics deal. Some of the early things the growers are doing is giving a tad more room for the birds, windrowing and composting the litter, more efficient vaccines, probiotics, all vegetarian feed, and things like that. With mixed results I might add. Have you been affected by any of this in your operation?
    Thanks for all you do. And thanks for letting me prattle on for a few moments on one of my favorite subjects.

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  52. We have 4 houses also. 400ft. But we keep our birds 63 days and raise 10lb birds. They are like giant linebackers.

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    1. Couldn't imagine 10 lb birds. I'd be afraid of getting attacked. I raise 4.30lb birds.
      Love the page. I often let people tour my houses and they are always amazed at how little they smell.

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  53. How do I get information about putting some of these houses on our land?

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    1. I would start by talking to other people in your area who have poultry houses. Find out who built their houses and who they went through to finance them.

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