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He Broods Birds In Modified Containers
For about $6,500 each, Caleb Barron created efficient brooding houses out of shipping containers that house 600 chicks for 15 days before he puts them on pasture. He has remodeled six containers since 2017 for his organic pasture poultry operation in California. As a producer who leases land, the containers also give him the mobility to move his operation if needed.
“I had brooded in greenhouses, but was never happy with that because it was hard to seal them tight from predators,” Barron says. After researching online, he talked to a Virginia poultry grower who used containers.
“I ordered a container, built it out and fell in love,” Barron says.
He was initially concerned that the chicks would cook inside the containers, but he didn’t lose any despite only making basic modifications. For his first container he cut a hole in the back wall and installed a fan. He took the big doors off the front wall and replaced them with a door with a window and screen so he can open it for more airflow. When needed, propane heaters keep the containers the appropriate temperature for the birds’ age.
Since then he’s added upgrades, including a commercial grade nipple water line and poultry lights. His best improvement was spray foam insulation.
“The chicks are growing so much better,” he says. “There are no cold spots where the chicks can get trapped away from the heat. It keeps the bedding drier. There’s no condensation.”
All that leads to better odor control and an overall healthier environment for the chicks.
To protect them from ingesting the foam insulation, the ceiling and walls were foamed down to about 3-ft. from the floor on the inside. He then foamed the bottom 4-ft. on the outside so there is a foot overlap. The $1,500 per container investment was worth it, Barron says.
He notes that some producers purchase refrigerated containers that are already insulated, but the t-rail floors need to be modified and the back walls have to be removed completely.
Barron paid $3,000 each for the containers. With his 6 container brooders, he starts off enough chicks each year to raise 60,000 chickens that he sells at farmers markets, and to restaurants and butcher shops.
“Another reason they are so great, if I have to, I can get a semi and move them to the next farm. In California, I will always rent so these are a really good solution,” he says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Caleb Barron, Fogline Farm, 1701 Cabrillo Hwy. Pescadero, Calif. 94060 (ph 831 212-2411; www.foglinefarm.com; caleb@foglinefarm.com).

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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #4