“Chicken Riddle” Poultry Project

Project Overview

YNC09-042
Project Type: Youth
Funds awarded in 2009: $400.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:

Commodities

  • Animals: poultry

Practices

  • Animal Production: feed/forage, free-range
  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: youth education
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, analysis of personal/family life

    Abstract:

    PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS

    BACKGROUND
    Before receiving this grant, were you involved in any sustainable agriculture activities? If so, briefly describe them.
    Yes. I helped in the family garden by weeding and picking the fresh produce. I also participated in a “Square Foot Gardening” seminar after which I planted my own square foot garden. I had already purchased chicks and raised them for a few months prior to receiving the grant.

    GOALS
    I wanted to explore raising poultry for egg production in a way that was economically viable for both my business as well as my customers. I needed to be able to make my business profitable while providing a service that enabled my customers to purchase eggs locally rather than traveling the 30-60 miles to the closest grocery store. My other goal was to keep my practices environmentally sound and humane for the poultry. I did this in a number of ways: from building a coop of mostly recycled materials to repurposing unwanted grain materials. I wanted to do my part to show that even on a small-scale I can have a profitable business that benefits not only me but my flock and the environment as well.

    PROCESS
    First, I built a coop using repurposed materials from my home, the Habitat for Humanity store, and Craigslist. Then, I developed a promotional campaign to market my eggs. I had such a good response, that I had to stop advertising because I had more demand than supply. Next, I researched my options for feed and decided on using a mix of store bought feed supplements with corn screenings that would have otherwise been wasted. I also supplemented their diet by allowing them to free range and by feeding them garden and kitchen scraps. All-in-all making for a fairly economical approach, the entire reason for using this method.

    PEOPLE
    * Linda and Harold Narum, family friends, assisted me with writing the grant and advice for raising poultry for eggs.
    * Andrew and Teresa Braaten, parents, helped with construction of the coop and when I was unavailable to do chores.
    * Cara Cody-Braun, school teacher and family friend, educated me on the importance of a well balanced diet for the poultry. She is also the one who inspired me to raise poultry for egg production.
    * Harlan Isensee, grandfather, helped me with construction and advice that was ripened with experience.
    * Colleen Svigen, Richland County Extension 4H agent, sent me relevant information such as information for the grant as well as any other poultry publications that I request.

    RESULTS
    The results were not what I had expected. After a little more than a year of being in business, I was barely profitable. I realize that my initial expenses would have been reduced the more I was in business. However, the cost of feed outweighed my potential to be profitable. I do believe that there is a way to provide a humane and profitable environment for egg producing poultry. However, I believe it must be on a much larger scale than I am currently able to handle. This project taught me about business, bookkeeping, hard work, marketing, commitment, problem solving, and much more. I would not have been able to have learned this much if I had not participated in this project.

    DISCUSSION
    I became much more aware and appreciative of sustainable agricultural practices and products. Now, I am much more aware of the value and hard work behind sustainably produced products. I learned about being environmentally sound while also profitable. I definitely learned that just being profitable is not enough for me. My mom has a new appreciation for organic and sustainable food products. At the grocery store and farmers markets, she purchases them whenever possible. As a 4-H member, it has made me appreciate the 4-H motto more which ends with “… for my club, my community, my country, and my world.”

    OUTREACH
    To spread the word about SARE, I made and exhibited a poster in my local 4-H county fair July 9-10. The judges were very curious about my project and asked many questions. The poster was on display during the fair for public viewing. I also informed my egg customers about my project with my SARE grant throughout the year. I was featured in the local paper this year along with other grant recipients. At the awards banquet for 4-H in October, one of the speakers spoke about my grant, eliciting several conversations about my project. During the winter months, I presented in several FFA competitions featuring my project.

    My project was presented to approximately 150 people during the past year. In addition to these planned events, I had numerous conversations with people in the community, teachers, friends, etc. I have no plans for future outreach at this time. However, I am mentoring a friend that is raising poultry for egg production and I will encourage her to apply for a SARE grant.

    PROGRAM EVALUATION
    It was hard to know exactly what was expected of me. Therefore, I would like to see more definitive guidelines for the grants. However, Joan Benjamin answered all of my questions that I had promptly and fully. It was a great learning experience for me to participate in this program. Thank you for including youth in your operation.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.