The poultry enterprise on the Berea College Farm has changed many times throughout its history. Decades ago, the College operated a large poultry farm near campus. After it closed in the 1980s, there were no chickens raised on the Farm for a time. In 2009, as part of the ANR course Animal Science, students raised a small number of chickens on the farm. In the years following, poultry production increased. Now, the farm produces eggs as well as broiler chickens and has recently expanded to include turkey production.
Currently, the Farm produces around 2500 broilers, or meat chickens. Production begins in the spring and continues into Fall, avoiding the colder months. When the chicks arrive at the farm, they are raised in a heated brooder until they are old enough to move out to the pastures. In line with the Berea College Farm’s commitment to humane and ethical practices, the broiler chickens are fully pasture-raised after leaving the brooder. They are divided into small groups and placed in moveable huts, which move daily. The huts provide shelter as well as protection from predators. Chickens produced on the farm are sold through the Farm Store and to the Dining Hall.
The Farm is also home to a flock of layer chickens. About 250 layers supply eggs for the Farm Store, the College Dining Hall, and even the local business Native Bagel. The layers are pasture-raised in a fenced-in area with a large hut that provides shelter, perches, and nesting boxes. The hut and fence get moved regularly to provide fresh pasture. During the winter months, the layers are moved indoors for protection.
More recently, the Berea College Farm has added turkey production to the poultry enterprise. One hundred turkeys are raised on pasture and marketed through the Farm Store in the Fall. Feed for chickens and turkeys is milled on the Farm and comprised of corn, soybean, and a premix. The balanced diet provides all the nutrients essential to optimal growth. Students working with poultry have the opportunity to participate in all areas of chicken and turkey production. These opportunities include grinding feed, setting up huts and watering systems, repairing or building huts, rotating the flocks through fresh pasture land, and seeing to the overall health of the animals.