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Stay-At-Home Mom Runs Pasture Poultry Business
Thirteen years ago Kelly and Evan Hahn started raising chickens for their own use. Five years ago they decided to start raising birds on pasture to sell wholesale as a way for Kelly to make money while staying home with their children. After a year or so they started also selling birds retail.
  Besides filling contracts for wholesale birds, they now raise chickens, turkeys and pigs for individual customers. The Perrysville, Ohio, couple built pens and grew the business based on demand, and have raised as many as 3,200 chickens in a year. Since Evan has a fulltime job, Kelly handles most of the day-to-day chores.
  “I tell my husband the challenges I have, and he fixes them,” says Kelly, such as when he adjusted the feed pans so she doesn’t have to go inside the pens. The change reduced Hahn’s chore time by about 25 percent.
  While some of her chores are automated, she pulls each pen by hand with a rope so she can watch and make sure the birds are moving with the pens. During hot weather, she checks pens frequently to make sure the watering setup is working.
  “I also spray down the pigs and the chickens with water on extremely hot days to cool them down a little. I use a little handheld sprayer full of cold water,” Hahn says.
  “I think it’s easier on pasture,” she adds. “We only have to clean out the brooder. I feel like the amount of disease is cut way down.”
  Kelly has advice for others thinking about getting into pastured poultry production:
  • Visit a farm where someone is doing it. Check out resources at your nearest ag school.
  • Start small. Build what you can afford and grow slowly.
  • Take pre-orders. Kelly sends out flyers in March to past customers to take orders for the year. Most birds are sold wholesale, but private orders continue to grow.
  • Create a website. It’s a comfortable way for customers to check out your business.
  • Offer incentives. Last year, people who ordered a specific amount of products received a soft-sided cooler with the Hahns’ business name and logo.
  Finally, Kelly says, be willing to change. While chickens are their main product, the Hahns added turkeys and pigs recently to diversify and meet customer demands. The ratio of wholesale and retail sales also varies and is currently about 50/50.
  “We haven’t eaten grocery store meat for 13 years,” Hahn says, noting that even if they didn’t sell meat, she and her husband would always grow their own food.
  Despite challenges such as predators and inclement weather, Hahn says she is looking forward to another season. She feels fortunate and blessed to be able to stay home in the summer with her kids.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Kelly Hahn, Acorn Ridge Poultry Farm, LLC, Perrysville, Ohio 44864 (ph 419 938-5430; www.acornridgepoultryfarm.com).

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2014 - Volume #38, Issue #2