On September 7, 2019 the entire class took a trip to Dover, Delaware to visit a poultry farm. Though I grew up not too far from this farm, I never new of it’s existence. The farm is owned by a Ms. Georgie Cartanza, a Nuffield Scholar and the current University of DE Poultry Extension Agent. Ms. Cartanza began the trip by introducing herself and sharing a bit of backstory. She told this to us while we sat on a makeshift amphitheater of sorts made up of packages of pine shavings set up on the concrete heavy-use pad in the shadow of a barn used for storage.
After the presentation, we were presented with Personal Protective Equipment- intended more for the chickens safety than our own- in the form of rubber booties, coveralls, and hairnets.
Looking quite stylish and now rendered unable to sneak-up on anyone, we loudly rustled and awkwardly shuffled around the other side of the barn where we saw the EcoDrum and the product of it’s ‘in-vessel composting process’.
Opposite the barn, we could see behind up an identical structure with a manual composting drum.
After marveling at the innovative composting technology we walked over to the actual chicken houses themselves. We got to hear about the technology used to run the chicken houses, namely the Environmental Controller- revolutionary device that allows a single farm to take care of 37, 000 chickens. A prominent part of that technology, displayed broadly on the sides of all the houses, are the large fans to bring the temperature of the chicken house down when necessary.
We also learned about the pasture areas between the houses and the advantages and disadvantages of allowing chickens to roam in the yard. Not yet in use with the young chickens were ramps, hanging water dispensers, bully boxes, ramps, and shade structures. Along with the man-made shade structures were natural shade structures of cattails running down the center.
The culmination of the trip was the experience of holding baby chickens- these particular chicks were a mere two days old, still bearing the pink streaks of the tinted spray vaccine they received before arriving.
The class, joined by Ms. Cartanza, didn’t leave Dover before stopping for lunch at Chik-fil-A- paid for by the Professor. We parted ways with our host after lunch to return to the Newark campus.
The Newark class section would see Ms. Cartanza again, albeit remotely, for Monday’s first class guest lecture.