Brinkers diversify family farm with poultry operation

Brinkers diversify family farm with poultry operation

Thousands of chickens recently left Alan and Susan Brinker’s farm and more will take their place.

The Brinker family raises Broiler Chickens on their farm located on County Road 3 in Frazeysburg. The chickens come from Case Farms. According to its website, Case Farms is committed to ensuring the welfare and health of its chickens, which are “farm-raised cage free and fed a diet that is predominantly corn and soy-based with no added hormones.” The Brinkers raise their chickens according to Case Farms’ guidelines and the company comes and picks them up when they are ready for processing.

“Case sends a catch crew for them and we usually have about a seven to 10 day down time to do repairs and maintenance on the barns,” Susan said. “Sometimes it’s been as little as three days though and we’ve worked a straight 24 hours to get everything done.”

The Brinker’s currently have six barns on their property.

“We own the barns, but they (Case) provide the chickens and the feed,” Susan said. “When we get the chickens they are babies.”

Each barn has control panels where the family can check how much the chickens have been eating and drinking and monitor the temperature.

“We can see this on our home computer and on our phone,” Susan said. “Alarms will go off if something goes wrong like it’s too hot in there.”

Having this technology has been very helpful for the family.

“If we are at a school function we can check if something is urgent or if it can wait until the musical or ball game is over,” Susan said. “It’s been a wonderful system upgrade. It gives you a little more freedom and flexibility.”

The Brinkers have been in the poultry business for nine years now and usually have about four to five flocks of chickens per year. They also raise sheep and cattle and sell their chicken litter as fertilizer.

“A big issue with farmers is cash flow,” Susan said. “We are not crop farmers by choice and the cattle take a long time to generate dollars. We didn’t want to put all our eggs in one basket. We wanted to think long term (with the farm) especially since our oldest son has expressed interest in coming back.”

The Brinkers have four children, Lauren – 24, Ian – 22, Leah – 17, and, Aiden -13. They’ve all been involved in the family business and have learned about responsibility, expectations, communication, and problem solving, just to name a few skills.

“There is no decision they haven’t been involved in here,” Susan said. “Over the years they’ve heard the good parts and the tough parts that come with a family business.”

One of those tough situations the children were exposed to was when a waterline broke in a barn.

“At that time the waterlines weren’t tied to our alarm system,” Alan said. “There were eight inches of water in there and it was an interesting two days.”

Water and feed are just two of the many things the family has to monitor. They also have biosecurity measures to practice, check on the general health of the birds, air quality and ventilation. A flock supervisor from Case Farms also visits them at least once a month.

“It’s good to have a fresh set of eyes on the barns,” Susan said.

Both she and Alan feel the company is very helpful.

“They work with you and beside you,” Alan said. “They want to help you and want you to make money because the better you do they better they do.”

Both he and Susan are looking forward to passing the operation on to the next generation someday.

“I see this growing and becoming more efficient,” Alan said. “The seeds have been planted, watered and fed for that.”