Unity College in partnership with Waldo County Technical School received a Future Farmer’s of America (FFA) Food for All
grantto raise 100 Red Broiler chickens in the spring semester to be donated to the Belfast Soup Kitchen and Regional Food Pantry, according to Unity College’s FFA president.
This is the second grant that Unity College has received, said Shayne Van Leer, Unity College’s FFA president, pointing out that this year’s grant is a comparative study between chicken tractor raised broilers and open range broilers.
Sixty of the chickens will be open range, having 160 feet of fencing surrounding them, which will be moved between four locations, while 40 will be moved via chicken tractor, says Van Leer.
The students of the FFA chapter at Unity College as well as the students of the FFA chapter at Waldo County Technical School, a high school in the area, will be caring for the chickens, says Van Leer.
Sara Trunzo, Unity College’s Food and Farm Projects Coordinator, says this project will benefit students by “filling the gap until permanent animal presence.” Students should be involved in all aspects Trunzo said, “chick to slaughter.”
Trunzo said this project was appealing to students who asked for animals on campus, more experience in animal handling, and student-led projects. Next semester, she added, there is a plan to hire a barn manager and to have an animal facility.
The chickens will be arriving in early March, Trunzo said, and will take about nine weeks to raise until they are full grown and sent to slaughter.
Trunzo called Van Leer the “resident chicken king.” While Van Leer said that Trunzo came to him with the grant, which she said was “the perfect fit.”
According to Van Leer, Red Broilers are broilers for the pasture-raised system. Broilers, he said, are chickens raised for their meat, and will not be laying eggs.
Last year’s project was called “Pastured Poultry for Food Security” said Van Leer, who is the leader of this project. Van Leer said he had raised egg layers at home and chickens are his primary interest.
Trunzo said last semester’s project was when they really figured it out. Fewer chickens were raised but they figured out the timing to finish the whole process within the semester.
There will no longer be a need for a grant or this project following this semester said Trunzo, the new animal facility plan should cover the area of chickens on campus.