Starting a proper poultry farm is a bit of a bumpy road. Most probably start with someone wanting fresh eggs for breakfast getting a few chickens and over the years deciding they might need a few more chickens… until the town starts asking questions about all those chickens…
Our beginning was a little less subtle. We bought this property, and the a whole bunch of chicks and eggs, and for a little over a year we’ve been building feeders, nest boxes, breeding pens, barn doors, an incubator… and it never stops… and we keep adding on as much as we can. We’re getting so close to this actually being worth our time and effort! But alas…. taxes and laws and such need consideration too.
My dearest wanted to file as a business with the town. We’d already met the dog officer last Autumn, not knowing the property had changed hands he was all the happier to add us to his “Farm Book” during a surprise visit. Not to worry, all was well, and he enjoyed chatting to my dearest as I was oddly absent dealing with family business that day… In any event, although we were registered as a property in the town’s farm log this did not mean we were also a business, just that we had enough animals to need periodic supervision. That’s fine but we waned that glorious business certificate as we make a real go of it. So we asked the town. The town gave all sorts of paperwork to do and told us we needed to attend a public hearing where eight of our neighbors would be invited to express their concerns. If they had any there would need to be a judgement made, if no one shows up we’ll get a certificate and go on our merry way. I am nervous… I hate forced community involvement, in the past it’s never gone well… but I don’t think any of my neighbors are displeased and I will have to keep optimistic!
In any event this whole process ground to a halt when the woman dealing with us quit and no one knew what was going on. After a bit of a clusterfuck they figured it out and now we are set to have a hearing in May.
In the meanwhile I have tried my hardest to make the animal side of this business as legal and ethical as possible. Although I have no obligation to I have started to vaccinate my chicks for Marek’s. It is a surprisingly easy thing to do – yes, it costs me a little money but in the long run it makes me feel a lot safer. If any chicks are kept here they are safe in a vaccinated flock and if they’re sold they’re not going to spread this heinous disease to anyone as a silent carrier. It’s just good practice.
We’re also planning to get an NPIP inspector in here to get tested and certified. This will make it legal for me to sell eggs, chicks, juveniles, and adult birds across state lines and will open up our customer base to also include other NPIP tested farms. This is also good practice — that comes with some pretty nasty risks (including the destruction of the whole flock if they do turn up with a disease) but I think it’s the right thing to do.