Why Raise Livestock on a Produce Farm?

We mainly raise vegetables, but we have been expanding livestock on the farm.  For the past four years, we have raised broilers (chickens for eating, not laying) along with laying hens and a flock of sheep; last year we even tried our hand at a few pigs.

Why?  Meat is tasty and allows us something else to offer CSA members and other customers, but one really big reason is manure.  Veggies need a lot of fertility, and, when raising produce organically without high-powered manufactured fertilizers, you almost have to have livestock manure.

We keep experimenting with ways to create good compost out of manure.  One thing we have been trying is doing a slow composting method where we let the manure pack break down under a roof and out of the rain for 6 months + which keeps more nitrogen in the compost instead of leaching out in the elements.  

Tools of the trade – a manure fork and a grain shovel

Last week I shoveled out the chicken shed in preparation for this year’s batch of 200 broilers.  We let last year’s chicken litter break down since last August and we’ll spread in a windrow in a shady spot on our hill to break down some more for fall spreading on the fields.    

Filling up the manure spreader
The finished product – half-complete compost
Shed ready for new birds!


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