Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What I Learned about Chickens at Carlson Farms

We arrived at the farm and our good-natured tour bus driver took us across the pasture to see a row of chicken coops surrounded by sheep. Did you know that there are “meat” chickens and “egg” chickens? My visit to Carlson Farms – provided by a food tour organized by Food Dance Restaurant – was an education. The coops, homes to the meat birds, are on wheels and are moved along allowing the chickens inside to eat from the ground underneath. They are moved twice daily.

It turns out that chickens grown for meat need some confinement. These birds hang out in coops that are made for 80 birds – but Norm Carlson puts only 50 cornish rock cross birds in them, so they have more space. They are confined for two reasons: 1. Predators – they are not fast moving chickens. 2. If they are out walking around all day (burning calories), they will not grow big enough to use for meat.

However, the isa brown chickens are egg layers, and they can escape predators to a degree. They were in a nearby field that had a low fence to keep predators out, although they are able to fly over the fence if they want to. Their hen house is nearby; it’s where they go to lay eggs. There were 450 – 500 birds in that area of the farm.

I didn't realize how vocal chickens were. Here is a video of them clucking. When they are pecking at my shoes and jeans, they are picking off seeds that stuck there as I walked through the field.

Both types of birds eat what is outside in addition to non-GMO feed. Some of the feed is certified organic. The egg hens get extra calcium and organic flax meal. Both of these additions improve the egg quality.

Also on site, is a new Bed and Breakfast. We toured the two-story, three bedroom house with a full kitchen. It also has an event room.

The Carlson’s supply 600 eggs to Food Dance Restaurant weekly.

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Norm Carlson talking about chickens

meat chickens and sheep 
meat chickens in their mobile coop
egg laying chickens
the meeting room

a room at the B&B

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