- Written by Lee Riggs Lee Riggs
- Category: I want to be an organic chicken farmer I want to be an organic chicken farmer
- Published: 24 November 2010 24 November 2010
I would like to take a moment and comment on a personal level concerning the meat regulations in general and how they pertain to me. For the past year or so I have been researching and deciphering the present meat regulations in BC and how can I work within the system.
I started the process with the intent to create a local chicken meat industry on the Sunshine Coast. My goal was to create something on my 5 acres big enough to make a living. I visited on a number of occasions the subcommittee for agriculture for the Regional District, the AAC. I generally listened to what issues they deal with and also worked with them about my intent.
My initial plan was to build a 30' x 100' barn which would be primarily a solar heated barn. This would have cost me somewhere around $100,000. I investigated farm loans. I spoke with the Ministry of Agriculture at length about my plans. I had many emails and conversations with the BC Meat Inspectors. I have had many email type communications with the Ministry of Health. My goal as I figured it was to produce up to 10,000 pasture meat birds annually. I wanted to go legitimate. I was itching to go into debt and create a chicken business growing good clean meat.
Then everything changed and I had the pleasure of going to a chicken forum for small farmers up in Quesnel. The attendee's were mostly small organic and natural growing farms. The forum had an array of speakers. One very interesting guy from the Valley who runs K & M Farms. He actually works for the Ministry of Ag. and is doing pasture poultry within the system. He also lives a stones throw from the hatchery, processor and the bulk feed mill. So besides his hard work he has logistics on his side. Convenience to stuff is not a benefit on the Sunshine Coast. At the end of the forum the Key Note Speaker came up, Joel Salatin from Virginia. I first saw Joel on FOOD Inc. the Movie. He is a man who is third generation of opting out of the past and present agricultural system. One of those Americans who still has a spark for independence and freedom. I bought Joel's book on Pasture poultry and followed his system to a T. His system encompasses starting slow, spending very little on capitol investment and growing good healthy food. So this last summer I remodeled my brooder room, built my moveable chicken pen, all with supplies that I already had on hand. I then built a plucker for $500.00 and my wife and two friends and I processed the birds.
This is what I have learned up to this point. Most of our friends and family would prefer to buy chicken that has had a good life full of good things to eat. The market is totally there for home grown chicken. Processing birds is no big deal, and most of the profit stays home. I can grow chickens without an expensive barn and equipment. We can produce our own meat for ourselves and our neighbors. I also learned that animals require energy. Mine. I will not be able to fully make a living off growing food, but I will be able to subsidize my income and supply myself and some of my neighbors with healthy food.
Concerning growing pasture pork. I have no idea what the legislation says and frankly Scarlett I don't give a damn. The system is not designed to support small farms it is as simple as that. So I stand on the pedestal of not supporting the system. There are qualified people everywhere that can properly kill and package large animals like pork and beef. They are those people that process moose, deer and such. Support those people not the government. The government is bought out we all know this that. They do not want you or I as a meat producer to succeed.
If I have not been clear enough I say simply, "Just Do It". If you are going to process meat yourself then learn good clean techniques, do it right. Give the system no reason to find fault. Watch Food Inc. again and listen to what Joel and others are saying about the system. F... the system.