Get to Know Josh and Amber, Chicken Farmers from North Carolina

Josh and Amber raise broiler chickens in North Carolina. Although Josh has been raising chicken for 25 years, Amber is newer to life on the farm. She started helping out on Josh’s family farm after they starting dating.

We chatted with Josh and Amber, and they shared their unique perspectives on chicken farming.

How did you get into chicken farming?

Josh: I’ve been raising chickens ever since I was a kid. My family owns a fourth generation chicken farm. My dad started with two broiler houses in 1992. Then he built four more houses in 1996. Our last four broiler houses were built in 2007. My dad wanted to come home from the mill and continue farming with his family. My passion for farming followed me to university. I went to North Carolina State University and studied Agriculture. I received five degrees in Livestock and Poultry Management, General Agriculture, Agriculture Business Management, Field Crop Technology, and Urban and Field Pest Management. I hope to continue applying what I learned during university and from my dad, and to pass it on to the next generation.    

Amber: Both of my parent’s grew up farming tobacco so I have some farming background, but I was introduced to chicken farming after I started dating Josh. I met Josh at our local farmers market. My mom owns a bakery and sells at the market during the weekends. Josh’s family sells beef and pork products at the market. I have known Josh for about five years, but we started dating last year.

What do you love about chicken farming?

Josh: The freedom of working for yourself, and knowing that you are providing food that goes all around the world.

Amber: I especially love the first four weeks of chickens. I enjoy sitting down in the houses and watching the chickens play and move about. The first week is totally my favorite because the chicks are so curious and love exploring the house.  

What’s your least favorite thing about chicken farming?

Josh: Chicken farming is a 24/7 job. Chickens need a lot of care – you can’t just walk away at the end of the day. Even during nights and weekends, we still check on the chickens. Chickens can’t go hungry because it’s a holiday.

Amber: I tend to avoid the houses the last few days before the sale, plus I am not fond of the smell during certain parts of the year.

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

Josh: There are no added steroids or hormones in chicken, and there are no antibiotics in your meat. Also, we are not a factory farm.

Amber: Since I am Josh’s girlfriend and I’m fairly new to chicken farming, I view chicken farming from a different perspective. I wish people knew how much work and care goes into raising the chicken they eat.

People do not realize how much work chicken farming actually is, or how stressful it can be. For example: I love snow – it’s one of my favorite things, but snow can disrupt life on the farm. I was able to experience this firsthand recently during heavy snowfall. One of the chicken houses needed more chicken feed, but the feed delivery trucks couldn’t get to the farm because of the snow on the roads. To ensure that the chickens had food, we scooped feed from one chicken house to another so that the chickens wouldn’t go hungry. This made me reconsider what a snow day really means for a farmer, and the amount of dedication and care it takes to be a chicken farmer.

What’s your favorite chicken dish? 

Josh: Fried chicken.

Amber: Buffalo chicken pizza.

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