The first field trip for Understanding Delaware Agriculture this Fall semester was to Georgie Cartanza’s organic chicken farm. Ms. Cartanza owns and operates four organic chicken houses raising 156,000 birds for Perdue Foods. Upon arriving at the farm, we put on Tyvek suits and plastic boot covers to maintain bio-security in the houses. As we entered the houses, we also had to step in chlorine powder to ensure there were no contaminants entering the houses. These bio-security measures were taken to prevent the chickens from being harmed by any outside pathogens. Each of Ms. Cartanza’s houses were up to date with automated feeders and waterers and tunnel ventilation, all controlled by control boxes located in each house. All 4 houses have alarm systems in them that directly alert Georgie when there is a malfunction with the climate control of the houses, or if there is any other immediate dangers. The temperature and climate inside the houses is regulated using tunnel ventilation and cooling pads. Tunnel ventilation is the process of pulling air through the house from one end to the other usinf large fans. Cooling pads are large corrugated pads that hang at one end of the house and circulate water through them. Using the tunnel ventilation, the air that is pulled through the pads is able to cool the entire chicken house by 20 degrees.
Being an organic grower means that Ms. Cartanza has to provide certain amenities to the chickens that are not required for conventional production. The houses must have windows and natural light as well as doors and access to the outside if the chickens choose to go out. Bully boxes are added to give chickens an escape if they are being attacked by other chickens and ramps for enrichment. These amenities plus the organic feed which comes from Argentina and Turkey are the main differences between organic and conventional chickens.
Our first field trip was to Georgie Cartanza’s farm which is one of Delaware’s organic chicken operations. On the trip Georgie told us some of the differences between organic and non organic poultry production. Some of the main differences is the organic feed that comes from Argentina and Turkey as well as the chicken houses layout. Organic chicken houses have windows installed along with wooden structures that chickens can climb on they also give chickens the ability to go outside into a fenced in area. She also explained some some of the technology that is used in the chicken houses that is used to regulate temperature, humidity, and feed and water the chickens. Over all the the field trip was very informative and it was very interesting to see what its like to be a poultry producer.
Our first field trip of the semester was to Georgie Cartanza’s organic poultry farm. To maintain the biosecurity on that farm, we all had to suit up when we got there. Georgie’s farm has 156,000 birds split up evenly between four houses. Within the past 3 – 3 ½ years, she transitioned to be an organic bird grower. Originally, she grew regular roasters and switched to organic broilers. Operating an organic poultry farm has different expectations compared to a regular poultry farm. Georgie has tunnel ventilation and evaporative cooling pads to keep the chickens at a comfortable temperature. Since it is an organic farm, Georgie had to install windows, little doors to let the chickens outside, and enrichment areas. The organic chickens are given the option to roam outside when they want to, which is what the little doors are used for. Surprisingly, Georgie said not many of the chickens want to go outside. The enrichment areas include ramps and bully boxes that are used as “toys” for the chickens. Also, the feed, temperature, and water are all controlled electrically. One of the big changes in becoming an organic poultry farm is the type of food the chickens are fed. The chickens are fed organic food that is imported from Turkey and Argentina. Georgie showed us how well chickens are treated in the poultry industry. She recommended to any of us who want to enter the field of poultry that we learn about the poultry industry, take poultry and business classes, and are willing to learn, work, and have a positive attitude.
Georgia Cartanza is the force behind a four house organic poultry farm in Delaware and upon meeting her I realized she is one of those special people who is just pure sunshine. Ms. Cartanza didn’t jump out of college and into her current 156,000 bird operation, but started as a flock supervisor for Purdue, the job was essentially to help poultry growers with managing and improving the day to day in their houses. After that she jumped around to a number of different positions before deciding to make the switch to having her own houses and being her own boss with the bonus of a more flexible family friendly work schedule.
After putting on tyvek suits and boot covers our class left the bus and Ms. Cartanza explained about her manure shed, and different external parts of the operation before showing us inside the chicken houses. Right before going into the house we saw the computer system that is a technologically amazing part of the operation, controlling the house regulations right from Ms. Cartanza’s phone, which will also alert her if any of the stats are way off, for example if the temperature in one of the houses spikes. One thing that really astonished me inside of the house was that the smell wasn’t bad, I was always told that chickens are dirty and smell awful…and it was pretty much the opposite. The air movement inside of the chicken house is so impressive that the smell doesn’t bother you, and over all it was quite clean and much quieter than I had ever expected! #AgMythBusted
Ms. Cartanza talked about the food and water system, the air flow, the outside access, as well as the toys the chickens had, like bully boxes and ramps. One silly comment that really stuck with me was her joking apology about the state of her chickens, how the previous classes who visited got to see cute chicks and we drew the short stick and visited during molting!
Ms. Cartanza chatted with our class about a number of different things throughout our visit. For example the challenges she is faced within the poultry industry, how energy and electricity are a big issue, how regulations can really hinder farm growth, as well as the impact public views have. She also discussed with us what she thought was important about entering into the job world, and one of her biggest points was accountability, the importance to be mature and responsible for your own person and actions. She also emphasized how far a positive attitude and the way you handle mistakes can go.
Our first field trip was to Georgia Cartanza’s organic poultry farm. Before we even got off the bus we had to suit up to maintain the biosecurity on the farm. She has four chicken houses with a total of 156,000 chickens. She originally grew roasters then switched to organic broilers. Because it is an organic farm, she had install windows into the houses, doors to let the chickens outside, and “toys” for the chickens(bully boxes and ramps). In each house she has cooling pads that help bring down the temperature in the houses. The feed and water are electronically controlled. The manure that is taken out of the houses is composted and sold to a famer that uses it in his fields. When you looked around Georgia’s farm you could see that she has put up plants almost as a barrier. They are used at screens to catch dust and block the smell of the farm from her neighbors.