Lately, it seems that the topic of raising the food that we eat organically has become a popular, but highly split discussion. Due to social media and its portrayal in the news, non-organic farming seems to be getting a bad rep. A decent amount of people feel that the organic farming is so drastically different than organic, that by in comparison the chickens are treated inhumanly. As an individual who has not grown up on a far, I have become very interested in finding out what the real difference between the two types of chicken raising. So when my Agriculture class took a field trip to Georgie Cartanza’s organic poultry farm on Saturday, August, 7th, I saw this as my chance to see for myself. Upon arrival at the farm, Mrs. Cartanza walked us through the specifics of poultry farming. Although there are many similarities between traditional and organic farms, such as how their buildings are set up, the main differences aren’t actually that important. Apparently Cartanza has been given certain restrictions and requirements by her bosses, such as requiring the chicks to have the option of spending a certain amount of time outside and providing them with toys (a bully box and a ramp) to play with. Another difference is that the chicks must be fed strictly feed that has never come in contact with either pesticides or antibiotics. This may seem like a chickens paradise, but according to Georgie Cartanza, some of these requirements don’t necessarily benefit the chicks. Being able to walk out in the open can actually expose the chicks to a great risk of avian diseases. All in all, the organic poultry farm was very enjoyable because I was able to to see it’s layout and interact with the day old chicks. From a personal viewpoint, it seems that organic poultry farming is just an alternative way of raising chicks, more so than being better than tradition poultry farming. This experience was very beneficial to my search for the truth of the depiction of Agriculture in the United States.
I have always known how much of an outstanding person Georgie Cartanza was, but in my eyes she was my “Aunt Georgie”, not a Delmarva Poultry Farmer. Throughout her presentation I realized she is not only an amazing aunt, but she is also a hard-working Poultry Farmer. Growing up, watching her raise thousands of chickens every year, I never knew the tremendous impact of her poultry farm. When she came in to speak to my class I learned so much about the evolution of the Poultry Industry. Within the past 6 decades, improvements have been made on technology, ventilation, thermostats, automatic pan feeders, nipple drinkers, and many more. These improvements have enhanced the birds health, welfare, and quality. Organic Poultry Farms, like Georgie’s, have special requirements that they have had to follow in order to raise organic chickens. This is also another example of how the poultry industry is changing due to the demand of organic chickens. Georgie had to incorporate enrichments, outdoor access, windows and many more additions to her poultry houses in order for them to be suitable for growing organic chickens. Along with the evolution of the Poultry Industry I also learned that for every one job in the poultry industry, it creates seven jobs in the community which proves how much of an impact these birds have on the economy.
Saturday, September 7th, 2019, The University of Delaware students took a tour of one of the most well known Poultry Farms in Delmarva. Georgie Cartanza, the owner of the Poultry Farm, gave a captivating presentation about her poultry farm and the Poultry Industry in its entirety. Delmarva is comprised of 12 counties in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. These 12 counties produce 605 million birds annually which is 9.6% of the national production. This is astonishing considering how small Delmarva is compared to the rest of the Nation. Georgie Cartanza not only gave an informative presentation on the Poultry Industry but she gave us an inside look into the poultry houses where she raises her organic chickens.
For our first field trip, our class went to an organic poultry farm. It was very interesting and exciting to be able to go around this farm and have a hands on tour with the lady who runs it, Ms. Georgie. She showed us a lot of different things that made her poultry farm different and unique to many others. One of her biggest things technology why’s that helps her run her farm are the big computer operated boxes that are located just inside the chicken house, and these boxes all Ms. Georgie to control every single aspect in the house from how hot or cold it is, to how much food and water the chickens drink, to even vents and windows. With this technology this allows her to run a massive chicken farm with only one person because she is able to do everything electronically and does not have to do it by hand. Before coming on this field trip I never knew how many chickens were actually kept inside one house and I was amazed to see how many there actually were once we walked inside the house. Ms.Georgie treated her animals very well and made sure they are always as happy as possible and gave them everything they need, even access to the outside even though many birds don’t go outside anyway, as well as enrichment toys which I thought was pretty cool.
It is a truly rare experience to encounter someone in life that inspires you. I have been to many states, I have seen some great wonders in this country but a visit to Georgie Cortanza’s organic poultry farm places high on my list of lifechanging opportunities. I have always dreamed of being a farmer, merging my love for animals, wildlife, and a hard day’s work, however, I didn’t grow up in an agricultural family and believed that being a rancher in Montana was far out of reach for me. Many posts will discuss the countless information Georgie showed us but perhaps for me, the story about an average woman following a dream stood out to me. Not only did Georgie embark on the journey into poultry farming as a woman having not grown up in a farming family, but she continues to be an inspirational figure in Delaware agriculture and beyond. Despite the intimidating initial investment, Georgie stuck to her goals where she now manages four flocks of about 156,000 chickens a year equal to 5.5 million pounds of meat, feeding families all over. Georgie became the first and only American to receive the Nufeld scholarship where she traveled to numerous countries including Brazil and New Zeland. She continues to use modern-day approaches to poultry farming and extension outreach to help improve the public’s perceptions about the poultry industry.
Poultry farming has been a very controversial topic in the news lately. There has been a lot of talk about hormones in chickens, family farms being factory farms, chickens being housed in cramped spaces and unhealthy living environments, etc. Not only was all of this proven not to be true by organic chicken farmer, Georgie Cartanza, but just because those things are being said, being in the poultry business can be more difficult. Chickens were believed to have been given hormones in order to grow to the size that they are today in comparison to those 50 years ago. The reality is, because of better feed and selective breeding, chickens have just gradually become larger. Georgie Cartanza gave examples of why someone might think her chicken farm was a factory farm and the truth of the matter is, because of advancements in technology, farmers are able to take care of more birds and more efficiently. Many times pictures are taken on a farm but are focused on an area that can be construed badly. The reason chickens look so cramped is because they flock closely together. Any animal will group together whether it’s for warmth, the sense of security, or safety. The chickens had more than enough room to roam, they just chose to be close to others. Even with all of the stigma going around about chicken farming, Georgie Cartanza still takes care of her business with a positive attitude. The advice she gave to all of us in pursuing any career was to always be positive.
Georgie Cartanza came back to our classroom to expand on the first discussion about growing chicken in Delmarva by talking a bit more about the evolution of the industry and it’s history. Between the 3 counties in Delaware, 8 counties in Maryland, and the 1 county in Virginia, Delmarva produces 605 million birds every year, which is 9.6% of the national production. That’s a lot of birds! How did this industry become so large?
The north-south development of first railroads and then the Dupont highway really facilitated the growth of the poultry industry. The Dupont highway allowed more chicken than ever to be transported to big cities nearby that had large demands for food sources. Cities have lots of mouths to feed, and you need roads to be able to transport your goods to the demand. Poultry companies became vertically integrated, controlling every step of the path from the hatching of the chicks to raising them on the farms to the processing, advertising, and delivery. This meant that the company had input on every step of the chicken’s life.
The housing of the chickens changed throughout the years. Housing the chickens in shed style houses to open barn yards to frame pole type construction evolved over the years. People even tried to house chickens in multi-story houses or “hotels”, which didn’t last long as it was difficult to move chickens between levels. The modern chicken house features several advances in technology to make the chickens the most comfortable possible. Ventilation and temperature control have come a long way since the first shed-style houses. Phasing from open drinking systems- which were hard to keep free of litter and waste- to nipple drinkers greatly improved sanitation and chick health. We all need clean drinking water! Delmarva was in the perfect place geographically to be able to grow and sell the thousands of chickens we eat today.
Getting to hear more about the chicken industry from Miss Georgie is something more people should have the opportunity to do. She is able to provide so much insight into the realities of past, present, and future farming with clear unbiased information. I felt like the guest lecture really left with me with a much better understanding of the industry and a more realistic grasp of how our food is actually being made. She also talked about some of the challenges facing farmers today and possibly in the near future which is an important subject for young people to hear as these issues are not typically talked about in the political climate and when they are, they are usually accompanied by a biased and non-factual point of view.
The importance of agriculture is immense and Miss Georgie is really able to shed light on it not only for future farmers but for people of all walks of life. With so much media today, more time needs to be spent talking about the importance of agriculture and the facts surrounding it as she covered during the guest lecture. This lecture really resonated with me and broadened my understanding of agriculture and the industry.
Getting to go visit a local poultry farm in person was an awesome experience. Learning about all the ways chicken farmers have been able to create a better product though healthy and efficient ways was a very eye-opening experience especially with all the negative news and social media surrounding the field recently. Being able to see first hand how the chickens are cared for and hear an actual farmers side of the story could really clear up a lot of misconceptions anyone might have. For me, the opportunity to go see what kind of techniques are used and the work being done was great because it gave me a greater insight into not only what that avenue of life might entail but also where my food comes from.
Going to the Poultry Farm was truly eye opening experience for me. Personally when I think of poultry farming I just thought of farming chickens when really there is much more than that, especially when it comes to organic chicken farming. I would have never thought about the how they couldn’t use rodenticides or insecticides on these farms because honestly I didn’t think that it would effect the chicken that much. Something that really amazed me was when Mrs.Cartanza was talking about how when she opens the doors for the chickens to go outside and not a lot of them do. But, that makes me happy to think that the chickens are just as or more happy in the chicken houses. Another thing I found very interesting was the size comparison from chickens in 1957 to chickens today and it’s crazy to think that genetics and a few other improvements did all that. But, those are the types of animal improvements we need to make to be able to feed are ever growing population. I just want to say thank you to Mrs.Cartanza for a very informal trip.
On Saturday, September 7th, our class went on a field trip to a poultry farm run by Georgie Cortanza in Kent County, Delaware. She has 4 chicken houses which hold 37,000 chickens a house and 148,000 chickens in total. They weigh 913,900 pounds a flock. A flock is a certain number of birds in one group. She has 5.5 flocks in one year and makes 5,000,000 pounds a year. In total, she feeds 59,808 people a year. Georgies runs an organic farm, meaning that all the chickens there are free range. This means that they get to go outside for a period of time each day.
Chickens are one of the animals that have a lower carbon footprint. The only one lower is fish! The carbon index for chicken is 6.2 versus cows which is 16.2. A chicken also requires less feed for an outcome, which makes it better economically for the farmer. For every 1 job in the poultry industry, it creates 7 more jobs.
My favorite part of the field trip was seeing the baby chicks of course. They are very soft and fun to hold.
Georgie Cartanza welcomed the class to her Organic Poultry Farm in Little Creek, Delaware; ran under Perdue’s organic branch Coleman Natural Foods. She has been raising broilers for almost 15 years now and has seen how the organic sector has changed throughout the years. What does organic chicken mean? The United States Department of Agriculture declares poultry organic if it is GMO and hormone-free, has access to the outdoors with enrichment toys and shade, plus has significant space in the chicken house with access to natural sunlight. These environmental requirements were all set and pushed for by the consumer in order to provide chickens with a “happy” lifespan since the number one questions consumers ask about their food is if it is humanly produced. However, many of these requirements may or may not be the best option for the health and safety of the chickens. Biosecurity is a top priority for any food system. Chickens having open access to the outside affect the biosecurity of the chickens. Pests, predators, and diseases have a higher chance of affecting the flock. In a few years, Georgie will have to plant tall grasses, trees, and other natural plants to provide shade for the outside pasture to meet updated organic standards. While the tall grasses can be planted in front of the house fans to help control air quality, the trees could attract predators and welcome other vectors of disease. As Georgie best puts it: raising chickens is a balancing act between consumer wants and what is best for the chicken. It is very clear how much she cares and loves for the chickens and wants the best all-around.
Georgie Cartanza a Poultry Extension Agent of the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension visited the university at the Georgetown branch to talk about “The Evolution of the Poultry Industry on Delmarva”. Delmarva is made up by Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia; providing almost 10% of national poultry production. These production rates help to provide for employment; one job in the poultry industry creates seven jobs in the community and help feed families up and down the east coast. As of now, Delaware’s poultry industry could provide one chicken to 253 million families. That is all due to the evolution of chickens; hormone and steroid free. Improvements in understanding genetics, nutrition, and technology of the poultry industry are the sciences behind feeding a large population. Technology in feeding and watering has helped farmers save time, money, and resources switching over to automatic pan feeders and nipple drinker systems. With understanding better nutrition and genetics, it has been found chickens have a 2:1 ratio of feed and water needed to produce one pound of meat. Thus, making them a very efficient source of protein. By 2050 the world population will reach to nine billion people, in which Delmarva will confidently be able to help feed.
Ms. Georgie Cartanza, a organic poultry farmer, presented and informed students of the Understanding Todays Agriculture class about the evolution of the poultry industry on the Delmarva and how it is managed today. On the Delmarva, there are ten processing plants, thirteen hatcheries, and ten feed mills each of which allow there to be many poultry houses on the Delmarva that are accounting for ten percent of the nations production. With these houses, many jobs are created as for every one job in the industry, it creates seven in the community which overall helps the economy of the state of Delaware. However, the poultry industry was only able to become this efficient and profitable because of the technology that has developed over time; that allows producers to have better structured houses, thermostatic heating, good ventilation inside the houses, feed access such as drips and troughs, and overall a better living environment for the birds which has made the industry very successful in producing poultry. While, in past years, the poultry industry had very little access to technology which limited the producer in the number of birds they could produce and how the producers could tend to the various health needs that are associated with these birds. Over time, the industry has also changed by becoming virtually integrated, which has caused Ms. Cartanza and other poultry producers to grow and produce poultry more based off of the control of the consumer; such as objects like enrichments and outdoor access, like in Ms. Cartanzas organic poultry house, to be placed. Essentially, throughout this presentation many things about the poultry industry in the past and current day time can be learned, which can help the students and myself to develop a better understanding of the industry and develop certain interest with it as well.
Throughout this presentation, I learned many things, the evolution of poultry production, its contribution to the local economy, and how the industry markets there product today. With marketing and production, the industry has become more integrated to the consumers desire for the industry, causing the consumer to become more in control; which I found very interesting because I’ve never heard of it and didn’t think that the consumer would have control of the industry let alone what occurs in the chicken house as well. With the information learned, I now have a better understanding of the industry and how it has become the industry it is today which can allow me to educate others about the poultry industry as well as develop a factual opinion about poultry farms in Delmarva and in other states of the United States.
This field trip in the poultry farm was fascinating. I am glad to learn many new things about that not only the agriculture, but also the future career and life. It is a rare chance to engage this kind of activities. Mrs. Georgie Cortanza run this organic poultry farm well. And she explained what organic chicken mean is. The chicken has to had players, an opportunity to access to the outdoors and enjoy the natural light which means that install windows in the chicken house, a big chicken house, be fed organic food, and not be fed any growth hormones or antibiotics. Consumers claimed those factors that can make chicken become a “happy” and “healthy” chicken and it is humanity. But the thing is that when chicken can enjoy outdoor time and no antibiotics, the chance to get sick may increase, when they enjoy natural light, they will be more active, then they will have more movement, then they will lose weight. We don’t know if chicken is happy or not. Like the Mrs. Cortanza said, when you focus on a side, you gonna lose other side. It depends. That is what I learn in today.