Do you have a dream of living out in the country? Perhaps you are a city dweller who is tired of the traffic, congestion, and noise associated with living in an urban area. Maybe you already reside in the country, but you are thinking of switching careers.
Regardless of your background, there are many things to consider before starting a chicken farm in Minnesota or in any other state.
Determine the Type of Operation
First, you need to determine what type of operation you are interested in starting. Do you want to raise chickens for people to consume? Do you want to raise chickens to lay eggs for consumption? Do you want to raise chickens to lay eggs to raise baby chicks?
For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume you want to start a free-range chicken farm in rural Minnesota. What does this entail?
Purchase Farm Land
After you determine which type of chicken operation you want to start, you need to purchase an appropriate amount of land zoned for agriculture use.
Free-range chickens (or other poultry) need a large area to roam. In fact, even though you may want to provide a fence around the area to protect the chickens, the fence needs to be a considerable distance from the birds. Free-range poultry spend most of the time outside, where they are fed and watered.
Another reason your free-range chickens require a large amount of land is because chickens poop a lot. Twenty full-grown chickens produce about a ton of poop per year. One acre of fine grass can absorb the output of about 50 chickens.
What happens if you try to put too many chickens in too small of an area? While a little chicken poop works well to fertilize the grass, too much chicken poop will kill the vegetation. If the vegetation is killed off, the area and surrounded areas will be polluted with run-off.
Also, if vegetation is killed, chickens will be forced to scratch around in the mud. Mud is terrible for chickens because parasites breed in the mud. Parasites are harmful to chickens and eggs.
Farmland in Minnesota sells on average for $4,489 per acre. Some counties require you to purchase a minimum amount of acres. Since this varies from county to county, check with your local real estate agent regarding the rules in your area.
Are you looking for farmland in Minnesota? Find a buyer’s agent and describe your ideal scenario. Make sure your agent has a background in agricultural land so he or she can best advise you regarding the regulations for raising chickens in a given area.
Build a Mobile Chicken Home
Free-range chickens do not wander far from home. Because of this, you will need to move the chicken house periodically, so the birds don’t wear down the grass in a given area.
Remember, mud is the enemy of a free-lance chicken farm.
Learn the tax implications of building a mobile structure from your Clever Partner Agent in your area.
Learn the Minnesota Rules for Raising Fowls
If you plan to sell the eggs from your chicken, turkey, duck, goose, or any domesticated fowl, you must first register with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
You must also clean the eggs by approved methods. All the eggs must also be candled and graded. Eggs need to be stored in refrigeration units at 45 degrees or less.
Your eggs must be stored in cartons labeled with the grade and size of the eggs; your name, address, and zip code; the statement “Perishable. Keep Refrigerated;” and a pack date. The freshness date should also be labeled as not to exceed 30 days from the date of when it was packed.
If you have less than 3,000 chickens, your operation is exempt from any additional licensing and inspection by the State of Minnesota.
Understand Property Taxes in Minnesota
Since you are going into the chicken business to make a living, you need to understand the expenses that you will face regarding the purchase of your land. The State of Minnesota collects property taxes on farmland. To learn more about programs that may provide some property tax relief for farmers, visit the state’s revenue page.
When you are first starting in any new venture, it is necessary that you talk with experts who can guide you along the way. If you are interested in buying land zoned for agriculture, speak with the appropriate expert in your area. Your Clever Partner Agent in Minnesota may not only know about purchasing property, but he or she may also be able to advise you on egg production as well.