by Liz Fox
Posted 4/8/2013 12:00 am
A moderately-sized chicken farm in northeast Arkansas has recently taken environmentally friendly, efficient measures to provide humane conditions for its large output of flocks.
The farm, owned by Karla Betz, is located at Floral, an unincorporated community in Independence County. The property spans 40 acres and is primarily used to foster chickens, which are housed in tight-knit 20,000-SF structures that shelter them from dreary weather and other potentially troublesome conditions.
Unlike many farmers, Betz and her family practice “center house brooding,” a method that involves hanging heavy curtains on the ends of each structure to concentrate baby chicks in the center, allowing for the warmth needed to make the chicks feel comfortable and cared for. This system, in addition to her attention to detail regarding the chicks’ food and water, is what earned her the December 2012 Grower of the Month Award from Pilgrim’s Pride, the second-largest producer of chicken in the world.
Betz’s initially wanted to pursue a nursing career, but moved her family back to the farm in 1996 after her parents retired.
With her family’s help, the Betz farm has implemented a number of innovations to boost its annual numbers, which range from seven to eight flocks a year with 120,000 chicks per flock — nearly a million chicks per year. Among the most recent developments is a tube-heating system, which uses less butane than other overhead heaters, and a feeder designed to eliminate substantial waste.
According to Betz, the humane conditions for each flock have accounted for the farm’s explosive success. But agriculture is where her true passions lie, especially since it means feeding families across the state.
“If you think about it, every 35 days I’m producing 120,000 meals for people,” Betz said. “If you think about one of my little chickens, it would be enough food to feed a family of four — a mom, dad and two kids. I feed 120,000 families every 35 days from my farm.”