Farm raises poultry the natural way

By Staff
ROTATING POULTRY Craig Hertel, co-owner of Darmstadt-Hannover Farms, checks on roaster chicks in his prototype pen called a "chicken wheel." The pen is moved every morning to an area with fresh grass. Photo by Carisa McCain / The Meridian Star
By Chris Allen Baker / staff writer
March 26, 2002
Two Lauderdale County men are offering area residents an alternative to store-bought, chemically-processed chickens and eggs.
Craig Hertel and Brian Eifert sell poultry and eggs they and their families raise and feed naturally at Darmstadt-Hannover Farms just north of Daleville.
They don't use hormone stimulants to enhance chicken growth. They don't inject them with antibiotics. Instead, they raise chickens in outside pens and feed them natural grains.
Hertel's wife and five children work with Eifert's wife and their 10 children in caring for the chickens including feeding and moving them to fresher areas of the farm.
As a result, Hertel said, the farm produces poultry with less saturated fat, more Vitamin A and more Omega-3 fatty acids. Eggs produced at the farm have less cholesterol.
Their efforts have paid off.
People come from all over Lauderdale County to buy chicken at $1.95 a pound and eggs at $1.80 a dozen if they bring their own carton, or $2.05 if Hertel provides a carton.
Hertel said his farm is environmentally responsible.
Waste products from chickens are made into compost. Hertel said he uses the chicken compost to fertilize his farm's grass fields instead of using chemical fertilizers.
With the natural method, he said, there is little or no odor and the animals' environment is cleaner.
Since opening in 2000, Hertel said marketing has been by word of mouth. Customers visit the farm to place and pick up orders a procedure Hertel says keeps prices low.
Customers can learn about new products through a newsletter, he said, adding that the farm could establish an Internet Web site in the future.