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He Raises Chickens Without Buying Feed
Karl Hammer, owner of Vermont Compost in Montpelier, Vermont, has been raising hundreds of chickens and collecting thousands of eggs for more than 18 years without buying any kind of chicken feed. He simply lets them feed on the piles of compost at his commercial composting operation.
  It all started when a friend who owned a local restaurant needed a place to get rid of food waste. Since the city wouldn’t allow the restaurant to have its own composting bin, the owner asked Karl if he would take the material. Karl noticed that his chickens were naturally attracted to the food waste.
  Karl soon bought a couple hundred chickens and expanded the collection of garbage to other local businesses. The process is simple. The combined ration is placed in windrows inside simple high tunnels for the layer flock to forage on for feed. The tunnels allow the chickens to feed on warm windrows year-round. Chickens tumble and agitate the compost searching for bugs, grubs, and bits of food to feed on - all the while depositing their own protein droppings.
  Karl’s main motivations were to not only produce eggs from “garbage” but also to increase the quality of his compost by the addition of the chicken manure and to protect the value of the chicken itself. Karl believes the chickens are healthier, live longer, and produce larger, better quality eggs than most commercially raised chickens.
  Since Karl’s chickens get a wide variety of nutrients from the compost piles, which include all manner of fruit and vegetable waste along with worms, bugs and even mushroom mycelium, he is finding that his chickens are laying eggs farther into their lifecycle than would be normal.
  Karl states that he has a very loyal customer base and that they prefer the taste of his bird’s eggs compared to store-bought and even other producer’s eggs. Karl’s eggs are in high demand and sell for about $4 per dozen. He is quick to note that raising chickens this way is not a way to get rich quick and you would also need to consider the impact on your neighbors of large compost piles.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Karl Hammer, Vermont Compost, 1996 Main St., Montpelier, Vt. 05602 (ph 802 223-6049; www.vermontcompost.com).

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2016 - Volume #40, Issue #1