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A Bird’s Eye View of a Broiler Farm

Holly Porter had always been curious about finding the perfect way to connect consumers with the world of broiler farms. With a welcoming approach, Holly, who is the Executive Director of Delmarva Chicken Association, aimed to demystify the agricultural practices of these farms where broiler chickens are nurtured for meat production. Her passion for bridging this gap radiated as she strived to educate and bring transparency to the process, creating a better understanding between farmers and consumers.

Holly’s innovative thinking and desire to share broiler farms with others led her to devise a creative solution despite the biosecurity challenges. Her idea of bringing the farm to the people, rather than the other way around, showcases her forward-thinking approach. “The idea had been swirling around in my head for several years,” she says. “I had this idea of trying to create a way to bring the broiler farm to the people when people can’t go to the farm.”

Seeing an incredible project at the Georgia Poultry Lab sparked a lightbulb moment for Holly, and her idea quickly took shape. Fueled by a passion for blending creativity with education, she eagerly dove into the adventure of making her vision a reality.

Partnering with David Bennett, the model maker behind the Georgia project, Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board and Rural Maryland Council’s Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund, Holly and DCA brought their idea to life. Armed with sketches and aerial views of broiler farms, the team meticulously recreated a typical broiler farm on a tabletop.

The attention to detail is astounding, from the four-house farm layout to the intricate feeder lines and water tubes — and even miniature tractors! Moreover, the diorama includes essential conservation features providing a comprehensive insight into sustainable farming practices, such as heavy-use area protection pads to help control spillage and runoff from poultry houses, stormwater ponds to collect runoff water and prevent soil erosion, and vegetative buffers.

The diorama isn’t meant to gather dust in DCA’s front lobby. It’s designed to engage and educate the public. Holly plans to take it to various festivals and events across Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, including the Delaware State Fair and county fairs. Additionally, she says that DCA plans to incorporate a virtual reality experience, offering an immersive journey into the world of broiler farming.

“One of the primary goals of this initiative is to debunk common misconceptions about broiler chicken farms,” Holly says. Through this exhibit, visitors will learn the truth behind myths like broilers being kept in cages (in fact, all broiler chickens are raised cage-free) or farms being littered with waste (chicken litter is often composted in between flocks, which improves bird health). By encouraging dialogue and understanding, she aims to foster a more informed consumer base.

DCA’s broiler farm diorama is a gateway to understanding and appreciating the intricate workings of modern agriculture. So, next time you’re at a state fair or festival, be sure to seek out this miniature marvel and get a bird’s eye view of a broiler farm.

Hungry for more? Read about a broiler farm in Centreville. Learn more about sustainable farming.

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