What do farmers do in the winter? They learn!

January 30, 2009 at 1:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Anna, Naf and I at NOFA NY

Anna, Naf and me at NOFA NY

By: Meg

Last weekend I schlepped to Rochester to attend the winter conference of  NOFA New York ( as well as to enjoy the lovely company of both Anna and Naf). The conference included three days of sessions ranging from crop rotation to raising pastured rabbit to baking with homegrown grains and everything in between.

One of my favorite sessions was “Parenting day old mail order chicken with experienced hens and roosters: no grain”, which was run by Karl Hammer the man behind the Vermont Compost Company. Shamu, who attended the NOFA Massachusetts conference the week before, was really inspired by this guy and suggested I check it out to get new ideas for the ADAMAH flock of laying hens. Karl raises his entire flock of hens and roosters on his compost piles, feeding them no grain at all. The chicks learn how to forage in the compost from the older, experienced hens and roosters. The flock has the run of the grounds at the Compost Company, and their safely is insured by a couple of German shepherds who diligently watch over the chickens. Karl’s set up seems to be a brilliant way to both utilize huge quantities of food waste (first as food for chickens and then as premium compost) and avoid spending money on expensive organic grain.

We’re super excited about what could be the next step in our hen opperation. Throughout the winter Shamu and I will be researching ways to impliment this kind of chicken opperation on the Kaplan Family Farm.

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