What It’s Really Like to Tour a Chicken Farm
Chicken Check In’s mission is to invite anyone to “check in” on how broiler chickens (meat chickens) are raised and produced in the United States. Since we can’t literally invite every curious person to tour a chicken farm in person (we’ll get to biosecurity in just a sec!), the primary way we do that is online – through our website, which includes virtual tours of broiler chicken farms, detailed FAQs and even our blog.
Sometimes we are able to host broiler chicken farm tours. Most recently, we invited six food and nutrition influencers to “check in” on how broiler chickens are raised. An influencer is a blogger and/or social media user with a strong following and a highly engaged audience. Characterized by a fanbase of loyal followers, influencers provide trusted opinions and subject expertise.
Here’s a recap of the farm tour and what we learned along the way.
Thank you, @rhodes_jenny, for inviting us to tour your broiler ? chicken farm! We learned so much about chicken farming and how much work goes into growing our food. #farmtotable #womeninag #chickencheckin #chickenfarming #farming #farm #foodies #bloggers #foodbloggers #onthefarm #farm365 #farmlife #ag #agriculture
Before seeing the birds, we sat down and chatted with Jenny, the owner and operator of the farm.
We quickly learned that Jenny is an extraordinary woman.
- Jenny’s broiler chicken farm feeds 491,000 families each year
- Jenny’s farm has four growout houses (barns)
- Her chickens eat 521,000 pounds of feed per flock
- Both of Jenny’s sons are chicken farmers
After learning about Jenny and her farm, the next stop for us was to see the chickens!
It’s very important to note that keeping the chickens healthy is our #1 priority. That’s why visitors must follow strict biosecurity measures and suit up while visiting any broiler chicken farm. We put on coveralls, boots covers and hairnets. (This is to protect the chickens, not the humans!) Chicken farmers, like Jenny, have “on the farm” clothing and shoes that are worn only on the farm.
Before entering the growout house, we stepped in a dry chlorine foot pan to kill any bacteria that could be tracked in. This is another common biosecurity practice.
Photo courtesy of Claire Thomas, The Kitchy Kitchen
As we stepped into the house from the brisk outdoors, we immediately felt comforting warmth.
The chicken house was a balmy 75°F. Keeping the flock warm and comfortable – especially during winter months – ensures that the flock can grow big and healthy.
We learned that the chickens in this house were 15 days old. That translates to them being ‘teenage’ chickens. The chickens were eating, drinking water, sleeping and roaming around the barn. Even though the birds had ample room to roam, they kept true to the saying of ‘birds of a feather tend to flock together.”
We also noticed that the birds had light green heads, and Jenny explained that the green dye on the birds’ heads indicates that they received vaccines when the chicks were newly hatched. The dye is safe and non-toxic.
Jenny then showed us the motherboard.
This computer controls the water, feed, airflow and the temperature in the house. It also alerts Jenny if she needs to attend to anything in the house, or if there is an issue she needs to address. Jenny has the computer connected to her phone and home computer, so she is always closely monitoring the chickens even when she is not in the chicken house.
Touring Jenny’s chicken farm allowed us to see how chickens are actually raised.
The tour also offered the opportunity to clear up confusion or misunderstanding around chicken farming. It was readily apparent that Jenny is passionate about farming and the welfare of her birds. She is proud to help feed American families and she works everyday – rain, snow or shine – to ensure that the chickens are healthy and thriving.
After the tour, Jenny treated us to a delicious home cooked meal. She really made us feel welcome and she was happy to address any and all questions about chickens, farming and her life as a farmer.
Question: when you think chicken farm, which “F” word comes first – factory or family? Comment below… The truth is, 98% of chicken farms are family-owned and operated. #ad Had the pleasure of spending the day with 5th-generation farmer @rhodes_jenny, (pictured here with her mom) touring her chicken houses, talking food labels, and then sitting down to a beautiful spread of home-made jams, beef stew, chicken salad, and a host of other goodies. ? The rotisserie chickens raised on Jenny’s farm feed nearly half a million families a year, yours probably being one of them if you’re on the East Coast. As a mother, I’m continually in awe of the women who raise the food I feed my family. As a dietitian, I want you to feel good about shopping for your own families, and to make choices based on fact and preference, not fear. Keep an eye out for my latest blog this week, in which I’ll be busting some common chicken farming myths. #agvocate #sponsored #chickencheckin #motheranddaughter #thankafarmer #winnerwinnerchickendinner #rdapproved #allfoodsfit #farming #labelreading #nutritionknowhow #healthier #delmarva #cheseapeakebay #marylandfarm #womeninag #familyfarm #strongwomen #localeconomy #sustainability #dietitian #motherhood #factsnotfear #knowyourfood #enjoyyourfood #enjoyyourlife
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If there was one takeaway from touring Jenny’s broiler farm, this sign in Jenny’s kitchen summed it up perfectly:
Want to hear about the tour from the perspective of the six food and nutrition influencers who joined us?
Check out their blog posts below. There are even a few chicken recipes to add to your collection!
- Natasha Nicholes, Houseful of Nicholes: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Chicken Farming
- Liren Baker, Kitchen Confidente: A Visit to a Chicken Farm: Learing about Chicken Production in the U.S.
- Nicole Rodriguez, RDN: Checking in with Chicken
- Claire Thomas, The Kitchy Kitchen: Exploring a Chicken Farm in Delmarva
- Naomi Robinson, Baker’s Royale: Chicken and Apple Kale Salad + Getting to Your Chicken
- Matt Robinson, Real Food by Dad: Meat Lovers Pasta