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, broiler chickens and has recently expanded to include turkey production.
Life on the Farm
The Farm produces around 2500 broilers (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’re old enough to move out to the pastures. The broiler chickens are fully pasture-raised after leaving the brooder, in line with the Berea College Farm’s commitment to humane and ethical practices. 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. The layers are pasture-raised in a fenced-in area with a large hut providing 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.
Feed for chickens and turkeys is milled on the Farm and comprised of corn, soybean, and a premix. A 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 pastureland and seeing the animals’ overall health.
Farm to Table
One hundred turkeys are raised on pasture and marketed through the Farm Store in the fall. About 250 layers supply eggs for the Farm Store, the College Dining Hall, and locally owned Native Bagel.