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More Egg Economics – How Forrest Pritchard Makes It Work

By   /  December 16, 2013  /  2 Comments

Forrest Pritchard shows us how he makes pastured eggs and raising pastured hens work for him and his farm. As he points out, it involves both economy of scale, AND being willing to perform all the “unsexy” aspects of chicken farming.

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1,000 free-ranging hens, enjoying a 1 o’clock lunch break. Shake a bush at your next farming
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About the author

Forrest Pritchard is a professional farmer and writer, holding degrees in English and Geology from the College of William and Mary. His farm Smith Meadows was one of the first “grass finished” farms in the country, and has sold at leading farmers’ markets in Washington DC for more than fifteen years. His book Gaining Ground, A Story of Farmers’ Markets, Local Food and Saving the Family Farm (Click HERE) was named a Top Read by The Washington Post and NPR. Forrest’s new book The Farmer In Your Kitchen: A Celebration Of Extraordinary Farms And Local Flavors is slated for release in Fall 2015, from the award-winning press The Experiment.

2 Comments

  1. Lovely article.

    In our experience, it’s the “Time Vampire” part that seems to make them the most unprofitable. Where do those 6 person-hours a day go? It was running us about 2 hrs/day for 200 birds, which cost more than feed. 6 hours for 1000 cuts labor costs by 1/3, so clearly something you’re doing is working better.

    Would you please be more specific about how economies of scale factor in?

    With a flock that size, how did you manage disease? Death loss was our other biggest theoretically controllable cost.

    Thank you.

    • The economy of scale kicks in around 400 birds for us because of infrastructure and chore costs intersecting with a flock size that maintains a reasonable pecking order. More anecdotal than anything else, perhaps.

      As far as disease goes, I posed this question to my farmhand of 20 years: “Can you ever remember our hens getting pneumonia or avian flu or cocsidiosis (sp?)” and he shook his head ‘no’. I think constant access to the outdoors, fresh bedding and aeration of the coop floor and clean feeders/waterers are the key here. As far as death loss, 99.9% is due to predation and accidents (smothered, trampled, etc.), with unexplained death/disease being extremely rare.

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