Category Archives: Poultry

Understanding Today’s Agriculture, AGRI130 Guest Lecture #7- Livestock Industry

On October 21, 2019 Mr. Dan SEVERSON spoke to the class on Delaware’s Livestock Industry. He covers the large-scope of the industry and the varied number of animals that are cultivated in agriculture.

Less than 2% of the U.S. population is involved in agriculture- a farm is any family that makes $1, 000 a year from agriculture. 98% of farms are family-owned and account for 87% of all agricultural value generated.  In Delaware, more than half of the farms are less than 50acres. More than half of farms have sales that generate less than $50, 000 in profit.   $3.5 million is generated in  direct-to-consumers in products and Delaware is the #1 state in the U.S. for value of products per acre. Delaware is also the #1 producer of lima beans in the U.S.

In the U.S., the livestock industry occupies .5mil acres land, with 500, 000acres in farms accounting for 40% of the gross domestic product.  With an average of 200 acres per farm, the industry generates about $8 billion in profit for agriculture.

Before going into the specifics of the Delaware livestock industry, Mr. SEVERSON gave the class a quick history overview. In 1914 WW1 takes shape & so begins the birth of agricultural extensions. In the 1930s Depression & Dust Bowl hit. And in 1939 WW2 starts, encouraging farm hands go to war. When the farmers return, they bring training & technology. No young man is willing to work for $0.50/week when they might earn $7/day at a factory.  In1950, Ammonium Nitrate fertilizer increases crop yields, aiding in a 265% increase in production and decreasing inputs by 2%

As a result of the wars ‘advancements’ the average annual per capita consumption of meat has changed over the years- beef, pork, and lamb have decreased while poultry has increased. 29% of Delaware’s land area is planted in corn & soybeans, and most of that produce goes towards the poultry industry as chicken feed. Goat & veal consumption has not been tracked ‘til recently. In the U.S. family food costs on average represent just 9.7% of a households income, that food typically consisting of what is most affordable, safe, & abundant. Compare that percentage to Russia’s average family spending 14-15% of their income, or the average Ethiopia n family spending 45%.  Much of that reduction in cost is due to the way that the meat is produced.

In Delaware there are 235 beef farms with 14, 000 cows/calves between them. Many of the cows are fed a Total Mix Ration (TMR) for more efficient and tailored nutrition. An example of a Delaware cattle farm would be Power’s Farm in Townsend, Delaware. Cattle are often the topic of Animal Welfare discussions.

Pork is soon to be vertically integrated. Swine production, Mr. SEVERSON notes, is a subject taught by UD’s Dr. Lesa GRIFFITH. Hogs may be raised farrow to finish, farrow to feeders, or feeders to finish. When keeping pigs, it is important to note white pigs are prone to sunburn, making the black breed Berkshire better for bacon. Part of the processing of hogs involves a scalding trough to skin the pigs, which Mr. SEVERSON notes is very hard to do. A popular value-added product made from pork is, ‘Artisan Scrapple.’   Mr. SEVERSON interjects the lecture to pose a question to the class on why pork shoulders are referred to as, ‘Boston Butt’.  When no one is able to provide an answer, he moves on.  Conducting a quick search after the fact define the pork shoulder is the ‘skinless, boneless upper part of a pigs front shoulder’.  A common cut, a quick Google search notes the name came from barrels the pork was shipped in and the region that made the cut popular.

Sheep are typically raised for wool. He notes that ‘Hair sheep’ are a type of sheep with wool that falls out.  The upcoming Delaware Agricultural Week in January 2020, a Maryland farmer with a sheep milking operation is slated to come.

Goats are raised for three things- Angora, milk, and meat.  There is no certified meat & milk facility in Delaware. In New Holland PA, the 2nd largest goat auction in country is held- Texas hosts the biggest auction.  The U.S. cannot support it’s ethnic population’s demand for goat meat, namely Islamic, Jamaican, & Jewish where goats are used for celebration. Mr. SVERSON says that goats are browsers like deer which eat above their heads.  The reason for it’s lack of broad popularity might be because goat meat doesn’t marble. Mr. SEVERSON proudly mentions that he received $280 for small (60-80lbs) goat in New Holland, where the price is based on the amount of meat. While attending the National Goat Conference in Montgomery, AL, where ice cream and cheesecake are popular forms of value-added goat products for a niche market. Lotions & soaps are easier in Delaware without a certified dairy.

Dairy is dying in the U.S.  In Delaware there were once 80 dairies, which decreased to 50, and now just 21 dairy farms operate today with 4 creameries- Woodside, UDairy, Hopkins, & Vanderwende Creamery. Natural by Nature & Hy-Point are the remaining processors. Farm fresh, homemade ice-cream is a popular commodity. Mr. SEVERSON notes Amish youth prefer construction to milking with it’s regular hours and consistent work. Whole milk contains 3.25% milk fat, while skim milk contains just 1%, but there is no raw milk available in Delaware. To generate a profit, dairy cow numbers are increasing- it takes 1000 cows minimum to make profit. For farms that are struggling, the cows are either moved to farms or shipped to different states & countries.

Other livestock farmers may keep for commercial production include bees, bison, alpaca, llamas, rabbits, water buffalo, deer, chickens, turkey, & emu. Mr. SEVERSON informed that class that he was unwilling to raise alpaca or llamas because they look ‘strange’ to him…

Lastly, Mr. SEVERSON discussed growing agricultural trends in the livestock industry. The number of farms is increasing while overall farm size has been cut in half- total production covers 8, 000 acres in Newark. The industry is also seeing a growing number of young farmers.  Farms and CSA’s are becoming increasingly diversified and catering to niche markets.  Many of these smaller farms are selling value-added products to direct markets. 10 current GMO crops include, corn, soy beans, cotton, papaya, squash, tomatoes, potatoes, canola, alfalfa, & sugar beets

The future of the livestock industry depends on new technology like GMO’s and robotics for labor, and investment in the next generation to cater to the environment, government regulations and animal welfare. Mr. SEVERSON states he has seen an increase in young females without and agricultural background pursuing knowledge to enter the industry. It takers 3-4years to establish a farm working with grants for funding. Mr. SEVERSON often conducts experiments on his own farm first. With that, he informs us of the skills and traits needed to work for the Extension agency. The following soft skills are preferable- listening, compassion, working with others and reading them. Other skills include agricultural skills, professional skills, & education.

Guest Lecture: Dan Severson

On October 21st, Dan Severson came into our class to talk about an overview of livestock. I found Dan’s humour to be really great and I think it helped drive his lecture. I found that a lot of what Dan talked about I had already known about, mainly from studying for the first exam. Dan has a lot of small ruminant animals such as goats and he also has pigs. 

First, he talked about Delaware’s farms. Delaware has 2,500 farms, 500,000 acres of farmland, and $8 million of product. The biggest expense for farms, specifically animal related farms, spend most of their money on feed for the animals. Delaware is the largest producer in lima beans but 29% of the farmland in Delaware is for corn and soybeans. 

Next, he talked about US history and how it relates to US agriculture both back then and today. After World War 1, the number of farms went down because a lot of children who worked on farms went to war instead. Yet after World War 2, the number of farms went up, but many of those children, now young adults, returned to work in the assembly line. Although we have fewer farms, we still grow a lot. With newer innovations, we can now grow more with less. 

Guest Speaker Dan Severson: Delawares Livestock Industry

“You are what you eat” (Dan Severson). Dan Severson, a New Castle County Agricultural Agent, discussed with the University of Delaware’s students about Delaware’s Livestock industry, the different types of livestock and the number and size of each type of livestock farm and their comparison to the size of farms across the United States. The livestock industry, unlike many industries, is an industry which includes the raising of animals such as cows, poultry, sheep, and goats for the processing of the animal products for consumers.

Within the state of Delaware, there are 2,500 farms, each contributing the U.S, economy which amounts to 8 million dollars from agricultural products, some of those products being from the livestock industries of beef and dairy cattle, poultry, sheep, and goats; with the poultry industry being the highest. In Delaware, there are 235 beef cattle farms and 14,000 beef cattle, 55 hog farms and 3,500 pigs, 89 farms with sheep and 1758 sheep, and 91 farms with goats and 1201 goats and an exceeding amount of poultry farms and chickens. Essentially, with these numbers in both in the number of farms and animal, Mr. Severson said that they will increase as they are calculated throughout the U.S. making this industry very large and very important in our economy locally and worldwide in the future and current day time. Additionally, from this presentation, many things about the livestock industry can be learned which can help myself and the other students develop a better understanding of the industry itself; and learn something that grabbed my interest which is that Delaware is larger in crop production then the production of livestock but continues to feed 1/3 of the U.S. population with crops and the main livestock producing industry which is poultry.

Organic Chicken Farm Trip

From what i learned from my fellow students who went on the field trip was that Georgie Cartanza’s organic chicken farm in Dover, Delaware displayed new technology and strategies for improving poultry life and conditions. Growing and raising the chickens is the easy part, thanks to new technology such as the environmental controller, that stabilizes temperature in the houses. These chickens produce so much waste that needs to be disposed of. Tunnel composters slowly spin manure, pine shavings and chicken carcasses into a fine mixture of compost. This compost is used on filter grass and other plants around the farm. Once the chickens reach 8 weeks or “market age” groups of men called “loaders” catch the chickens and load them on the trucks. Mostly done at night in order to reduce the stress on chickens and to make the chickens easier to catch, the use red head lamps to find and catch the chickens inside the home. Organic chickens overall seem to be happier then a regular farm grown chickens and are healthier and better taken care of

Georgie Cartanza Guest Lecture

Ms. Cartanza came in on Monday, September 9th and explained the poultry industry on Delmarva. She explained that Delmarva produces 10% of the nations poultry and Delaware alone produces 825 million chickens a year. Sussex county alone yields more chickens per square mile then any other county in the country. Raising and harvesting chickens on Delmarva creates jobs and opportunities for a lot of people. There are 7 poultry jobs for every 1 community job across 10 processing plants, 13 hatcheries, and 10 feed mills throughout Delmarva. Ms. Cartanza also pointed out  the top cost of production for the farmers and the corporations in the poultry industry. Farmers pay more for mortgage and electric, while the corporations feed cost is the major cost of producing chickens. Technology has changed the industry tremendously, moving from a thermostat to the environmental controller. Being able to control 6 large chicken houses instead of 4 small houses with the flick of a button helps farmers develop more chickens.

Georgie Cartanza’s Guest Lecture

On Monday, September 9th, the agriculture class was greeted by Georgie Cartanza, a Delaware organic poultry farmer and extension agent. She provided us with interesting information regarding the poultry industry in the first state, by giving the class a presentation with a brief history of how chicken farming became popular in Delaware, and the conventional methods that are no longer used in modern-day agriculture. She also showed us the economical impact it has on the U.S. For example, there are 14,500 people employed under poultry companies in Delaware that produce 3.2 billion dollars in birds each year. It turns out for every 1 job in the poultry industry, 7 jobs are created within the local community! She debunked the myths of fake news, like use growth hormones and antibiotics. In reality, there are no growth hormones. Technology has just improved to yield more bodyweight on the broilers faster than how it would have been in the 1950s. Under the organic poultry company she works for, Georgie must provide the chickens with access to the outdoors as well as enrichment in the chicken houses. This is based on consumer demand and the newly implemented technologies that are meant to improve bird welfare. Lastly, we were shown a slide on sustainability in agriculture and how to be mature and successful through mindfulness of the information that is shared with us. I definitely am more aware of the state I live in and the positive impact the poultry industry has on my community!

Georgie Cartanza’s Poultry Farm

On September 7th, our Agriculture class visited Georgie Cartanza’s organic poultry farm. She informed us about the Delmarva Broiler industry and how it has become far more environmentally friendly than it used to be in the early 20th century. Currently, this production accounts for 9.6% of all chicken production in the United States. That’s 605 million birds! Before we entered the chicken house, Georgie taught us how she practices proper biosecurity with accommodation of her chickens and the consumer. She showed us compost drums used when replacing litter and the organic methods she must practice under the Coleman company and debunked the myths that many of the general population believes through the media. It turns out, organically grown birds must have access to the outdoors and enrichment, and they can only be treated with naturally occurring supplements such as citric acid for their digestive health. Obviously, these birds were exceptionally taken care of from an animal welfare standpoint. Students had to put on protective gear and step in chlorine powder, not only for our safety but more so for the birds, as the potential risk of disease could be detrimental to the flock and Georgie’s profit. We were able to hold the two-day-old chicks while she covered the topic of how efficient each chicken house can be. In a push of a few buttons, she can provide the chicks with food, water, and proper ventilation to ensure they are comfortable in each house. I am very thankful to have had this experience because I didn’t know much about the broiler industry. I had many false assumptions about how the birds are treated and if the chicken I was eating was actually good for me. This trip, however, opened my eyes to the real world of organic farming, and how much care and precaution is taken when growing a live crop. Georgie set an especially good example for other farmers out there and established faith in me, that not all farming is unsustainable, and agriculture industries are consistently trying to find better ways to be more eco-friendly with their productions.

Understanding the Poultry Industry

September 9th, 2019 Mrs. Georgie Cartanza spoke to my class about the poultry industry. Mrs. Georgie is a poultry extension agent. In her job they take egg laying chickens and make them meat chickens. This process began after the “Chicken of Tomorrow Contest.” As well as many others, Mrs. Georgie works in the Delmarva poultry industry. In Delmarva they produce 605 million birds, which is 9.6% of national production. Sussex county is #1 in broiler production and there are 825,000,000 birds in Delmarva a year. WOW! That comes out to be 3.2 billion in bird value. Only 1300 people are growers. Its amazing how they put so much effort and dedication into taking care of chickens and feeding the world. Learning about the poultry industry has been very fascinating to me. I never knew much about the poultry industry until I heard Mrs. Georgie’s story.

Guest Speaker Georgie on Evolving of the Poultry Industry

On Monday September 9th, Organic Poultry farmer, Georgie Cartanza, gave a presentation  on the evolution of poultry farming in Delaware. Before she went into any specifics about poultry farming’s complex history, we were educated on the land grants and acts that were established in order to further the research that goes into the agriculture field. For example, land grant universities were established in 1862 under the Morell Act, which made educating  individuals going into the agriculture field more feaseable. Another Act she mention was the 1914 Smith-lever act, which  brought cooperative Extension into play. However, one of the main lessons taken away from the presentation is that the main purpose of agriculture is to transport the produce from one area to another in a certain amount of time and grow the most effective sources of livestock and produce.

As for the history of poultry in Delaware and along the east coast, it all started in 1923. In 1923 Steele Family market grew first young meat birds, which was a result of a shipment 500 chicks were mistakenly shipped to Cecilia Steele. From this she created the first functional poultry farm. Down the road, in 1948-49 there was a contest held to find the “Chicken of tomorrow”. This was held in order to find a chicken with DNA that would allow for producing the most meaty and most producible bird. In todays society Delmarva Poultry industry has 252 million birds produced in Delaware and more broilers per square mile than in other in the United states. For meat type chicken there are 40,000,000,000 worldwide and 9,000,000,000 United states.  However, the poultry industry has an economic impact on Delmarva. It produces jobs for 14500 Poultry Company employees and the value of birds are 3.2 billion dollars.

Social media is the biggest influenced on the question: Where is my food coming from? Even though the most common opinion of agriculture by those who are not in the agriculture field, is that traditional farmers are bad for the environment. However, its is important to understand both sides before making a final judgement. For some individuals that protest non-organic farmers do due to a food choice because they prefer how it taste and makes them feel. Other important factor is sustainability and Perception vs. Reality. These are important because it is important to keep the economy afloat while also providing food for the billion and billions of people living around the world. As for perception vs. reality, if individuals don’t know the truth then it will be hard for them to make non-bias decisions. Balance between consumer demands. Balance between environmental regulations. Balance for economic viability.




Georgie Cartanza Guest Lecture

Our class had the privilege of having guest speaker Georgie Cartanza talk to us about the poultry industry and extension. Her presentation included interesting facts about the poultry industry within the U.S, Globally, and even in the Delmarva area. I was surprised to learn how the industry has evolved over the years and just how crucial operations here are due to the fact that we are able to reach ⅓ of the U.S population within 8 hours. Furthermore, as time has gone on chicken houses and the way the poultry industry operates has changed tremendously. I think one of the most interesting facts was learning how big of a role DuPont Highway played and still plays in the way farming especially poultry farming was able to rapidly advance and take off. I think the guest lecture was very informative and I am glad I was able to participate and gain knowledge on a subject I had no previously knowledge on, I was never aware if the impact poultry had on agriculture as a whole and the state of Delaware. 

Guest Speaker: Georgie Cartanza

After the amazing and very informative field trip to Georgie Cartanza’s organic poultry farm, our class was able to further understand the past and present aspects of the chicken industry the following Monday. Miss Georgie gave us a historical timeline of the chicken industry and explained Delmarva’s immense contribution to the nationwide industry. She also went in depth on the economic impact that the poultry industry has on Delmarva’s society. For every 1 job in the poultry industry, 7 are made in the community.  Advances in technology have exponentially increased efficiency and productivity over the years and have proven to be a great success for those in the industry. Of course, with success comes people that question the source of it. Miss Georgie explained the difficulties many people in the poultry business face and how that affects their jobs. There are people that make up stories of animal abuse and neglect out of ignorance that directly impact those in the food industry. Miss Georgie explained and proved how all of those claims were untrue and biased.

Guest Lecture Georgie Cartanza on the Evolution of the Poultry Industry

On September 9, Ms. Georgie Cartanza visited our classroom to teach us about the Evolution of the Poultry Industry. In teaching us about the Poultry Industry, she elaborated more about the field trip we took to her farm. One thing that I found to be the most important thing about her lecture, was when she showed us a picture of what meat chickens used to look like from 1957 to 2005. In seeing this picture, I understood why others would think that farmers were pumping the chickens up with steroids because of how big they seemed in year 2005. In 1957, chickens were only 905 grams, but as time progressed the average chicken was 4,202 grams. The reason why we have bigger and better chickens today is all due to better genetics. The better the genetics, the better the bird will look. She also mentioned that the number one challenge in the Agriculture Industry was image. Being able to shed a positive light on the Ag Industry is highly important because people always have misconceptions about what happens within the Ag community. In stating this, I learned from Ms. Georgie that we have to understand where the miseducated person is coming from, and then try to inform them on what actually happens. As a whole, I really liked Ms. Cartanza’s lecture because it gave me more insight and knowledge about the Industry, and this is something that I’ll always remember.

Mrs. Georgie’s Poultry Farm

September 7th, 2019 was the first agriculture field trip of the semester. As a class we attended Mrs. Georgie Cartanza’s beautiful poultry farm. Mrs. Georgie has four chicken houses, all of them are 65” wide by 600” long. Each house contained 37,000 chicken which equals out to be 148,000 chickens on her farm. Each chicken is raised to be seven weeks old and six and a half pounds at total. Of all the chicken she has on her farm, she makes up to 913,900 pounds a flock times five and a half flocks a year, equaling 5,000,000 pounds a year, feeding 59,808 people a year! All of Mrs. Georgie’s chickens are conventionally grown, antibiotic free, and some being organic. She never uses steroids or hormones on her chickens and takes the best care of them. It’s amazing seeing how chickens are truly treated in person, instead of how they portray them to be treated on the internet. Learning all about Mrs. Georgie’s farm and holding the baby chicks made my day.

Gergie Cartanza Guest Lecture

Georgie Cartanza is a Delaware poultry farmer.  She locally feeds thousands of families among Delmarva.   One of the largest challenges she faces day to day are the common misconceptions in the poultry industry.  One of the most common beliefs is the belief that chickens are injected with hormones, antibiotics, and are forced to live in confined cages.  This is not at all the case.  Her lecture taught us the importance of spreading awareness of American agriculture and leading the public to make educated decisions.  The more you know before buying a product, the better off you will be.

Ecodrum at Cartanza’s organic chicken farm

Our trip to the organic Coleman chicken farm introduced me to a lot of technology new to me but what interested me the most was the new in-vessel composting system implemented at the farm named the ecodrum. The Ecodrum was a large black corrosion-free polyethylene cylinder that sat upon long rollers that would periodically rotate the composting vessel. At Georgie’s farm the Ecodrum was used to compost chicken mortality which was added along with pine shavings into the machine, after that the entire process is managed by an automated control system. This new innovation has not only cut back on the manpower required to compost dead chickens but it has done it in a way that reduces odor to a minimum. This technology is being widely implemented on poultry farms in Arizona but the unit at the Cartanza farm that we saw was the only one in Delaware.

Students learning about the Ecodrum installed at Georgie Cartanza’s Chicken farm the only one of its kind in the state of Delaware