I was just recently asked for advice on starting a small poultry farm. I have made a lot of mistakes when I first begun so I think I have some things I could
share. It's from my mistakes that I have learned the most.
One of the first things I would suggest is to consider what is the purpose of your farm. At our farm we not only want to have poultry that are pets which produces an income but also to save endangered chicken breeds. But there are many other purposes to consider besides saving endangered breeds, or making an income; you may want to show your birds, give your children valuable experiences in caring for God’s creations, raise your own healthy food, sell free range eggs, or hatching eggs, etc.
The next thing is to determine how you would sell your eggs, chicks, or show birds. Would you take them to a farmer’s market? Would you sell through the internet? Would you sell them from the shows? Would you use Social media or just stick a sign out front of the farm? Set out flyers at gas stations and feed stores, or wherever a business will take them? You could do all the above or none depending on your farm’s purpose.
If you know your purpose, it’s always good to advertise your mission so people will know what you’re all about. Consider drawing up a mission statement for yourself, to help keep you on point and let others support your vision.
If you’ll be selling from the farmer’s market, it comes with a set of issues you’ll need to consider. Not only are your birds exposed to an uncontrollable environment, but you are as well. Whenever you have an abundance of livestock conjugated in a space together there’s a potential of exposing your livestock to germs, and viruses. Also, most places would and should expect you to have Pullorum/Typhoid testing on your birds to bring them onto their property. That takes care of one serious issue, but you need to keep in mind there’s many other viruses they could be exposed to; there’s too many to say.
I myself prefer to practice what is known as bio-security. I don’t want to expose my birds to outside elements that can bring something back to my farm that
could possibly wipe us out. So, I don’t take them off our property. We do sometimes take our young chicks to Market Days at a feed store on occasion, but if we bring back any that were not sold, they remain separated from the rest of the farm for one month to make sure they’re still healthy. After we return, we change our shoes and those get cleaned, and we wash ourselves off thoroughly. All the equipment gets cleaned in strong bleach mix. This should also be the case when showing your birds at exhibitions.
I love the shows, and if it were not for old arthritis, I would be at everyone I could reach. But I would still practice this bio-security. Speaking of shows, I think it would be a great way to work on improving your breeds. At the shows, you would see what to work on to get your birds up to standard, and should your entries win anything they will be very much sought after by serious breeders looking to improve their stock or someone who wants to start breeding. Also, you will have an edge for selling your fertile eggs or chicks when you advertise that your breeders won at any show or even that you have shown your birds. If you should have the opportunity to participate just know that I’m very envious of you! Ha!
Social media is fantastic for getting the word out there about your farm. If you choose Facebook, you can post all kinds of pictures that show what kind of flocks you have, and you can share experiences, and let people know what you are selling. If you get your page established as a farm, you can also get paid advertisements which do so much more for getting the word out about your products. There are so many groups that you can join. There are groups for hatching eggs, groups for all kinds specific breed of chickens, and plenty of groups that just want to talk anything about chickens.
Instagram to me seems stress free. The only thing about Instagram is that you really need to use the hashtags to become discoverable. It’s easy to find what kind of hashtags to use. Just do a search on google for the hashtags for your breed of chickens, then copy it and paste it into the comment section of your post. I highly recommend social media for getting your farm products known. No matter which kind of social media you use it will get your farm out there because thousands and thousands of people are using social media.
If you choose the internet, I think a website is an absolute must. You can do your own website yourself. If you can do social media, you can do your own website. One that is easy even for an amateur whose never did anything on the internet is wix. I highly recommend using wix. Go onto wix.com and play with some of their templates, it’s free. Once you figure the ins and outs of it you can work on a serious website and I recommend purchases your domain in order to make it searchable. Unless you buy it, it will rarely be found when folks search on the internet. The wix website will offer marketing tools of which one is shout outs and blogs. Use them and make your page where people can subscribe so they can receive your blogs and shootouts.
One very good thing I found beneficial about having a website is that you can list your prices. There it is in black and white. It does away with people who want to haggle about the price. We had some crazy experiences with some well meaning folks that thought they would talk us down from whatever price they wanted to give us. It's just how they do in some places, but we have our prices, and as I told my daughter just tell them that's what the boss wants. Here's our price list, go ahead, check it out: click here Egg Well Farm Price List
No willing and dealing here, but whenever we choose we do offer discounts, and we offer great sales, and we give most of our male chicks as a free gift whenever someone wants one. Whenever possible we add another pullet and even though we advertise that we sell straight run, we always look for the pullets. If it ends up being a male, we're covered because we sell straight run. When the customers get all or mostly girls, they are very pleased and you just won yourself a loyal customer, more valuable than their weight in gold. I highly recommend giving customers more than what they ask for and better than what they thought they would get. It only helps you and your business in the long run.
One thing to keep in mind when naming your farm if you’re going to have a website is that many of the search engines bring up searches in alphabetical order. Also, people searching for your product will usually put the name of the product in the search. My advice is to name your farm and website something that you’re selling. For example: we named our farm ‘“Egg” Well’ because eggs are something we sell, and the searches would bring it up alphabetically first when people search out fertile eggs.