Organic Poultry Farm Field Trip with Georgie Cartanza


AGRI 130 students posing in biosecurity coveralls with Georgie Cartanza in front of one of the chicken houses.


On a sunny Saturday in September, the AGRI 130 students travelled to Georgie Cartanza’s broiler farm in Dover Delaware. We started the experience by sitting outside of the houses and learning about organic farming, broiler production, and other poultry related concepts. Then we put on disposable coveralls, plastic booties, and hairnets. My fellow classmates and I had the opportunity to step inside one of Cartanza’s chicken houses and see what a USDA organic certified poultry farm looks like. Organic chickens are fed organic feed, are antibiotic free, and are given access to an outdoor area, and other special accommodations.  Despite there being 37,000 chickens within the house, it did not smell bad because of the ventilation system installed. Industrial fans are used to circulate air through the house. The house is also equipped with nipple waterers, gravity powered feeders, and a control room to monitor and manage the environmental conditions within the house. The broilers start life in the center of the house on starter feed. As they get older, more of the house is opened until the birds have the run of the whole area. After eating starter feed, the chickens are given two different grower feeds and a finisher feed. Once the chickens are ready to be processed, they are collected by hand at night. This reduces the stress level of the flock. The individuals not picked up for processing are humanely euthanized and placed into the ecodrum for compost. An ecodrum is a plastic structure that aerates and rotates compost material to aid in the decomposition process. The manure produced at Cartanza’s farm is collected, stored in manure sheds, and sold to a local dairy farmer as fertilizer. The processes used for compost and waste management is a piece of the nutrient management plan for the farm. The plan is implemented to ensure that the farm practices are not negatively impacting the environment. At the end of the tour, I had the opportunity to hold a chicken and have my picture taken. Thanks to Georgie Cartanza for giving AGRI 130 students an opportunity to visit her farm.

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