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Farm Business Grows With Cage-Free Poultry
After growing up on a successful dairy farm, Aaron Brand never imagined that he’d end up running a thriving farm-to-market poultry and apple business. Brand says consumer demand for locally grown food drove his recent decision to put up a new “cage-free” barn for 2,500 chickens.
  “Farmers have to adapt and change, and I’ve certainly had to do that as much as anyone,” says Brand, who after graduating college had hoped to return to his family’s dairy farm. Economics dictated otherwise. Armed with experience working on a poultry research farm during college, Brand bought 50 laying hens and began selling eggs in 2005. “Those flavorful brown eggs sold really fast to family and friends, and I realized there might be good potential,” says Brand. Two years later he raised 300 hens, acquired 6 acres of apple trees adjoining his family farm, and still helped with the 70-cow dairy herd.
  Brand says his egg and apple business grew steadily through sales at the farm, at farmer’s markets, and to grocers and restaurants. “I didn’t see myself as an egg and apple salesman, but that’s what I’ve been doing and it’s going well.”
  That success encouraged him to build a new poultry barn in 2016 that houses 2,500 hens now laying about 2,400 eggs a day. “The barn has automatic waterers and feeders, is climate-controlled, and has an air exchanger for excellent ventilation,” Brand says. The hens walk around, get plenty of exercise, and eat when they want. During nice days they’re able to go outside to eat grass and scratch in the soil.”
  Brand says his flock is extremely healthy even though the birds aren’t given antibiotics. Egg yields have improved in the new surroundings and the new barn saves him considerable labor in caring for the flock. The chickens eat healthy with a special GMO-free corn-based feed from his local elevator. Part-time employees help at the farm and work at farmer’s markets selling many products bearing the Brand Farms name, including eggs, jams, jellies, apples and apple products such as crisps and cider.
   “We’re serving a market segment that’s growing by leaps and bounds,” says Brand. He plans to develop a larger farm store with a full commercial kitchen, using one of their older barns to raise broiler chickens and harvesting apples from the 10 acres of trees he planted last year.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Brand Farms, 18605 Biscayne Ave., Farmington, Minn. 55024 (ph 651 206-9457; www.brandfarmsmn.com).

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2017 - Volume #41, Issue #5