Thirteen years ago, Kelly and Evan Hahn started raising chickens for their own use. Five years ago, they decided to start raising birds on pasture to sell wholesale as a way for Kelly to make money while staying home with their children. After a year or so, they also started selling birds retail.
The Perrysville, Ohio, couple built pens and grew the business based on demand, and have raised as many as 3,200 chickens in a year. Since Evan has a full-time job, Kelly handles most of the day-to-day chores.
While some of her chores are automated, she pulls each pen by hand with a rope when she changes its location, so she can watch and make sure the birds are moving with the pens. During hot weather, she checks pens frequently to make sure the watering setup is working.
“I also spray down the pigs and the chickens with water on extremely hot days to cool them down a little. I use a little handheld sprayer full of cold water,” Kelly says.
She offers advice for others thinking about getting into pastured poultry production:
• Visit a farm where someone is doing it. Check out resources at your nearest ag school.
• Start small. Build what you can afford and grow slowly.
• Take pre-orders. Kelly sends out flyers in March to past customers, taking orders for the year. Most birds are sold wholesale, but private orders continue to grow.
• Create a website. It’s a comfortable and easy way for customers to check out your business.
• Offer incentives. Last year, people who ordered a specific amount of products received a soft-sided cooler with the Hahns’ business name and logo.
Finally, Kelly says, be willing to change. While chickens are their main product, the couple added turkeys and pigs recently to diversify and meet customer demands. The ratio of wholesale and retail sales also varies and is currently about 50/50.
Despite challenges like predators and inclement weather, Kelly says she is looking forward to another season. She feels fortunate and blessed to be able to stay home in the summer with her children.
For more information: Visit the Acorn Ridge Poultry Farm website.
Reprinted with permission from FARM SHOW Magazine.