On September 9th the Understanding Today’s Agriculture Class visited Cartanza Farms in Dover, Delaware. This is an organic farm which is run by Georgie Cartanza. On her farm, she has a total of four houses and holds approximately 37,000 birds per house. With her being an organic farm she has certain regulations to follow in order to make the consumers happy along with the chickens. Georgie has given her bird’s access to food, outdoor areas with toys and water whenever they please; in their food, there are no steroids or hormones to please the consumers who do not want anything to help “enhance” the growth and development of the chicken. On the other hand with Georgie not being able to feed her flocks the proper medicines (Antibiotics). Since that technically is a steroid she can not help her birds fight off sickness. This is the one major problem with having the birds on no enhancements. Despite the birds being “natural” or “healthier” with the medicines given to them, they will have to be kept extra healthy. This can be a challenge for Georgie and her farm because if one flock get sick or begins an illness this can damage the incoming flocks along with her profit. Consumers, who want their birds to be steroid/antibiotic free, in the case that the bird does end up being sick, is it truly the proper thing to let the suffer Along with infecting the rest of the flock? Georgie has gone above and beyond for supporting her family and farm. I find this to be inspirational and such a strong role model in the Agricultural Field. She has definitely influenced me and my perspective on organic farms!
On our first field trip for AGRI130, we visited Georgie’s chicken farm located about an hour or so drive away. During this field trip Georgie gave a detailed overview of her farm’s own numbers regarding the 37,000 chickens growing per house, her personal history regarding the “roasters” she used to grow for Perdue, and her experience in growing cornish, broiler, and roaster chickens. I immediately liked that Georgie made an effort for the students to understand just how many chickens were in one of her four chicken houses and how comfortable they were living indoors versus the negative image the media drives toward factory farms. She demonstrated that the sound, much like a typewriter’s, was a good sound to hear due to the fact that it demonstrated that the birds were thirsty and drinking from the nipple nozzels. I want to note how effective this piece of technology is because not only does it provide the birds with 24 hour access to feed and water, but the water is contained so the floor does not become wet. This is good for the birds because they need comfortable places to lay and a wet area is not ideal.
During the field trip, one of the most interesting things I learned that I was unaware of before was the speed of laws changing for farmers regarding building structures as Georgie mentioned. By luck, she had more than enough room for the birds to roam free range when the laws changed that the space needed to be larger and implemented by 2018. I find this fascinating because farmers already have a lot to deal with regarding the health of their livestock, maintaining good relations with their neighbors, and managing money to keep the operation going so to keep changing with a changing consumer demand seems challenging. Additionally, I learned the difference between “Antibiotic free” meaning antibiotics were given before but have been weaned out of the animal’s system entirely now versus “No antibiotics” which means the animal has never been administered antibiotics. This caught my attention because as a consumer, I support cage free eggs, which is more labor intensive and costly for the farmer to produce. As a consumer, the farmer has to provide what is demanded of them so the argument that sometimes the consumer is hurting the welfare of an animal by choosing not to administer antibiotics when it’s sick is important to think about. It is a question most consumers do not consider but is very important because the two labels seem similar but varies depending on how the animal is treated when faced with a cold.
Overall, I’d like to conclude my blog post and say I had a great time on the farm and learned a few things I did not know before stepping into the chicken house. Georgie was very informative and I would look forward to hearing more from her again in the future.