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Meet Lauren and Ethan, Broiler Farmers from North Carolina

Hey y’all! We’re Lauren and Ethan, broiler farmers from western North Carolina. We grow around 300,000 chickens per year on farmland that has been in Lauren’s family for 4 generations. We’ve been married for 8 years and love living on the farm with our dogs, donkeys, sheep and of course, our chickens.

How did you get into chicken farming?

Chickens were introduced to Lauren’s family farm in 2007. In the fall of 2020, Lauren’s parents decided they were ready to retire and approached us about taking over the farm. Without hesitation, we were ready to change our lives (as we knew it) to continue the family business. Within the next few months, we both quit our full-time jobs, remodeled a house on the farm and took over the chicken operation. Those were very big changes, but we truly couldn’t imagine our lives any other way. We are living a dream on our land and doing what we love.

What do you love about chicken farming?

We absolutely love the process of watching our chickens grow. From start to finish, we dedicate so much time and work into our flocks. It is rewarding to see the fruits of our labor when a flock leaves our farm. We take great pride in knowing we have a part in providing nutritious chicken in stores and restaurants all around the country.

What is your least favorite thing about chicken farming?

Not every day is perfect on the farm. It can be very hard on days when equipment breaks down or something goes wrong. In many of those moments, things need to be resolved quickly for the health of our flock. We are grateful for the support of our family and other industry professionals who help us resolve any issues that arise. We couldn’t make it through the hard days without a community who supports us.

How are you practicing environmental sustainability on your farm?

There are many ways that chicken farmers are proactively taking care of the environment every day. On our farm, we store litter from the houses in special sheds designed to prevent run-off. From there, Lauren’s family, who still owns and operates a grain and cattle farm, use the litter as organic fertilizer for their fields. It’s amazing to see how even the waste of these animals can be returned to the soil to help grow even more food for humans and future livestock. We also have new technology in our houses like extended cool cells, larger tunnel fans and LED lighting. All of these things help us to use less power on our farm.

What is one thing you wish more people would know about chicken farming?

It is no secret that these animals are grown for people to eat. However, what we wish more people knew is that it is not our job to kill animals. Our job is the opposite of that, and our No. 1 goal is to keep these chickens alive in a happy and healthy environment. We, and all farmers, take extraordinary measures to care for animals. These chickens are our livelihood. We’ve spent many nights losing sleep to make sure they are cared for, and we’ve invested everything we have into this operation. Everyone can rest easy knowing that chickens grown conventionally in the U.S. are just as happy, healthy, delicious and nutritious as chickens grown any other way.

What is your favorite chicken dish?

Our favorite chicken dish is white chicken enchiladas. We love to make this for our friends and family. It is a really comforting and warm dish.