Superbowl Most Valuable Player and Chicken Farmer?

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Von Miller final

In my family, we’re football fans.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it but I grew up rooting for the NY Jets. When we moved to North Carolina the year the Carolina Panthers became an NFL expansion team, we decided it was only right to root for the local team. I love the game but lately the headlines that come along with it – the concussions, the insane amount of money involved, the bad choices and behaviors often exhibited by players off the field – can make me question the morality and wisdom of this as a “fun” sport.

So I read with great interest a story about Von Miller, Denver Bronco’s linebacker and Superbowl Most Valuable Player, and his chickens. What??! Turns out Von attended Texas A&M where he took a poultry class because it was supposed to be easy. He had planned on sleeping through it but the professor got him so interested he graduated college with a minor in poultry science. He now has a flock of 40-50 chickens and plans to expand this to a full time business when his NFL career is over.

When he got the first chicks, he joked he had named them all after his teammates. (I can relate after naming two big, blocky Cornish hens after Carolina Panther running backs Biakabatuka and Floyd). He keeps the birds on the eight acres he owns in Dallas, where the weather is a bit milder than Denver. He’s named it “Miller Farms” and acknowledges he’s just starting out. But he feels he’s found his calling and, as he told the magazine Business Insider, “… I just feel like, ‘Man, this is for me.’ It’s just something I can see myself doing and my family and my children doing for a long time.”

Von has also noted that even though we use the word “chicken” as an insult, he feels they’re actually brave and courageous. Hmm…I’ve never quite considered them in that respect but perhaps I should. He plans to grow 3-4 flocks a year and when his NFL career is over, he feels he can make a good living, and be happy, with a second career as a poultry farmer. And I think you’ve got to admire that.


Sources: Photo courtesy of:

Happy Valentine’s Day (but don’t kiss your chickens)!

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© Fotojancovi - Little Girl With Chicken Photo

According to the Centers for Disease Control, a salmonella outbreak that occurred over the summer may have been caused by contact with chickens, ducks and other live poultry. 252 people in 43 states were sickened. Out of these, 39 people reported snuggling with baby poultry and 4 reported kissing baby chickens.

The CDC recommends washing your hands after handling your birds and “do not let live poultry inside the house, in bathrooms, or especially in areas where food or drink is prepared”.


Photo © Fotojancovi

Wild Chickens In Hawaii Part II

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We did a story about the wild chickens in Hawaii a little while back. We decided to see what new developments have happened since then.

chickens-hawaiiAt the end of July, an army barracks decided to offer the 150 wild chickens living in their parking lot to anyone interested in adopting them. They offered several caveats, though: chickens may have lice, mites, fleas and other parasites; chicken droppings can cause respiratory diseases. In spite of those dire warnings, Jennifer Alexander, an entomologist at the U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks, urged people “They can be raised to become loving and affectionate just like any other pet, and the hens produce eggs. They’re fun to watch and good at keeping bugs and pests out…Actually, they can be pretty awesome – just not at a health clinic.”

They noticed the population began growing since the beginning of the year. They’ve now put into place a program to trap the chickens using baited cages or nets. Any not adopted will be euthanized by lethal injection.

Meanwhile, in Honolulu, the mayor has hired a private pest control company to begin what they call an “Integrated Feral Chicken Management Program”. Targeting city properties, including golf courses, they’re trying to trap 1,500 wild chickens. The birds will be euthanized with carbon dioxide. Animal rights advocates have countered, saying the chickens should instead be given a bird contraceptive called Ovocontrol. Either way, private property owners are on their own in figuring out how to deal with the chickens.

Wild Chickens in Hawaii

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We recently received an email from a listener in Hawaii who mentioned that where he lives – on the main island – there are thousands of wild chickens. He said they have eight hens and ten roosters who drop by daily for food!

This intrigued us so much we had to find out more!Chicken on the Beach

In May, Hawaiian TV station KHON reported Honolulu was trying to find a solution because the problem had become so widespread people were complaining. This is in an urban and suburban area.

But where did this exploding population of wild chickens come from? Some people theorize that many of the chickens are descendants of birds that escaped when hurricanes hit and destroyed chicken coops. Annual bird counts done by the Audubon Society confirm the numbers jumped after the hurricanes. Others speculate the birds are wild ancestors of the original chickens brought to Hawaii from the Polynesians and relatives of the Red Junglefowl.

Eben Gering, an evolutionary biologist at Michigan State University has been studying these birds, specifically the chickens on Kauai Island,an island even more overrun with the birds than the big island, maybe due to the lack of mongooses, a natural predator, on that island. He published his findings in April. Analysis of the birds’ DNA reveals lineages from both our domesticated chickens and wild Red Junglefowl from Asia.

Dr. Gering and his researchers are hoping the interbreeding might help us improve our domestic breeds. They hope that by studying these chickens they can find out how and why an invasive species establishes itself somewhere new and at the same time what happens when a domesticated species goes feral.

Most of the wild chickens look like Red Junglefowl, with striking red, black, and green plumage. Others are speckled with white and reddish-brown, more like most of our domestic breeds. Their feather patterns match their calls: the ones who look like red junglefowl crow like wild birds, while the ones birds with more chicken-like feathers sound like domestic chickens.

But what about the residents of the islands who are complaining about crowing roosters at all hours of the day and night? Legally speaking, the chickens are protected by state law and residents can trap them but can’t kill them.

Apparently the chicken problem has been growing since the early 2000’s. In 2005, the Honolulu Advertiser reported volunteer trappers had captured more than 700 feral chickens around the island. A city contract was granted to The Hawaii Game Breeders Association, paying them $40,000 a year to catch the chickens. Birds that were healthy were given to people interested in eating them. In 2007, there were an estimated 20,000 chickens running loose on Oahu (the “big island” in Hawaii). Then in 2013, the city budget was cut and the program ended.

Meanwhile it’s been suggested that the Game Breeders Association had connections to cockfighting and routinely shipped birds all over the world for both legal and illegal forms of cockfighting.

Since 2013, the problem has gotten worse. This year, Honolulu has $80,000 budgeted to take care of the problem but the city so far can’t find someone to take on the job. In the past few weeks, owners from two condo complexes and an elementary school got together and hired a private exterminator to take care of the problem in their neighborhood.

And as for our listener in Hawaii, he’s planning to build a coop to protect the chickens from the main predators there, mongooses and rats. Apparently, despite all of the wild chickens roaming around, the price of grocery store eggs is six to seven dollars a dozen!


This post was written by Kim Torchy, for those of you who haven’t been in touch with Kim yet here are a few words from her:

“Hi everyone – my name is Kim and I’m lucky enough to be working with John. I’m very excited that’s he’s asked me to write a post! Let me tell you a little about myself: My husband and I moved from NJ to 15 acres in the mountains of NC and decided we needed chickens. We started with a flock of 8 laying hens and, well, one thing led to another (as it so often does). We ended up getting eighteen more plus raising enough meat birds yearly that we completely stopped buying chicken and eggs. I’m also Mom to two daughters, ages 24 and 8, and two beautiful grandchildren, Rylan and Sophia.”


AgriCast Digest E06: Tom & Chareva Naughton Interview!

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Hey folks, we’re really happy about this week’s episode because even though the skype sound quality wasn’t the greatest, the content was amazing because Gabrielle interviewed Tom and Chareva Naughton!

You may have heard of him from his blog ( or from the documentary he did a few years ago called Fathead. He did the documentary as a rebuttal to Super Size Me and I know that the wife and I really enjoyed watching it when Gabrielle mentioned it to us a few months back.

If you’ve ever been depressed about the mixed messages nutritionists send out then take a look at this because you won’t regret it. He really busted out all the old myths about diet like cholesterol, low fat, and all that grain and starch! They also shared their own experiences with moving from a deeply urban to a deeply rural area.

Tom and his wife share some great news for kids in this podcast as well and we’re looking forward to what the next few months bring. Until then, have a listen and tell us what you think.

Next week, part one of the intense hour long interview with Doug Kaufmann of Know the Cause.


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