We are in this for the long haul. This means that as long as the materials are available, we are in business and you are interested in accessing the materials for your own farm use, you will have access to them with your original purchase.
Will I get my production manual in the mail?
The copies for trainees will only be available as a pdf file which will need to be downloaded. Printed versions of the manual will be published later and will be sold as separate units as they will be significantly more expensive to produce and this cost is not included in the current calculations for online training. The course as is, is intended to be completely virtual, from the classes through the online consultations and group calls to the materials the trainee receives.
When do I schedule my one-on-one consultation?
You will receive an email after your purchase with detailed information on scheduling your consultation!
After my training, am I automatically part of the Tree-Range® Chicken brand?
No, the training is intended as a way for farmers to learn everything we have available about the regenerative poultry system. The Tree-Range Chicken brand is part of a national collective that is currently being built, the only region where farmers can join the brand currently is within 2 hours drive from Stacyville IA, where our first poultry processor is going into operations. As farmers in other regions of the country finish their training, the Regenerative Agriculture Alliance (soon to be transitioned into a farmers association) will reach out once a core number of farmers have shown interest in joining as part of the Tree-Range brand in a new region. There is a lot of groundwork that goes into building a regional producer pool, just raising chickens is not sufficient to succeed in this business, a whole lot of supply chain infrastructure has to be in place and this can only be built efficiently and economically viable by collectives of farmers or regional producer pools. After sufficient farmers are trained in a new region, the conversation about the Tree-Range brand will be engaged. This does not mean the farmer can’t produce and sell chickens on their own through their existing infrastructure (processing, markets, etc.), in fact, we expect farmers to use this training to improve on their current operations and eventually build sufficient collective capacity in their area to initiate the system-level conversations.
Do you do private farm consultations?
Yes! One-on-one consultations can be purchased from the “Training” portion of our site.
How do I join your system as an aspiring or current farmer? How much land do I need?
To join the system it is recommended that you first check all the publicly available materials related to the system then talk to existing poultry producers who are already part of the system. You can contact the Regenerative Agriculture Alliance to make contact with producers in MN, IA, and WI bordering region. There are no regenerative poultry producers engaged with this system and registered with the RAA anywhere else in the country at this point. There are producers in Chimaltenango Guatemala, San Miguel de Allende in Mexico and Hazelton British Columbia. The RAA can get you in touch with them.
Once you are ready to go further, register in the training program, after graduation if you are still interested in moving forward we will find a farm for you to experience the system hands-on as an apprentice.
One production unit needs at least 1.5 acres plus space for the coop at 1,600 square feet and access. It is up to you how many production units you will want to deploy, just add up the acreage. We don’t recommend farmers set up more than 8 broiler production units per farm.
What is a production unit?
A production unit is an area where broilers (or egg layers) will be raised and finished. It is comprised of a shelter with 1 square feet of space per chicken, grain bin, water supply, two paddocks, perennial cropping systems planted in the paddocks to generate a two canopy system, feeders, waterers, and forages at the ground level. One production unit will host 1,500 broilers per flock and they take up to 65 days (slow growth breed selected for this system) to reach maturity and an average weight between 3.75 and 4 lb. In Minnesota (cold climate) we currently produce up to 3 flocks per season or 4,500 broilers per production unit. More are possible, strategies for achieving a higher yield and meeting all the standards will be covered in the training.
How do you harvest the eggs?
In our design, watering, feeding, and egg collection is intended to be fully automated. However, some farmers may choose to pick their eggs manually, there is no restriction as a matter of the regenerative standard we abide by, but it is unnecessary and expensive laborwise to pick eggs by hand so we design the coops with the intention of fully automating those tasks that take the most labor.
How many chickens are required to be profitable? How much land is needed?
Profitability is a matter of how efficient and effectively a farmer operates, the Break Even Point (BEP) for a professional farmer under this system also depends on how much take-home income the farmer plans to generate, also if their operation is going to fully center on poultry or if the farmer is establishing a production unit, joint the system but their farm is centered on say cattle or vegetables. The profitability equation for this poultry system is generated by combining sales of chickens, sale of manure, elderberries, and hazelnuts, as well as income generated through services and apprenticeships provided on the farm. A chicken is expected to produce at least $1 to cover the farmer’s labor (or whomever does the daily labor if the farmer is hiring someone else to do this), and at wholesale generate at least 5% of actual profit margin. This means after all expenses are paid, including the farmer labor, and all kinds of other contributions to the cost of farming such as health insurance, retirement, etc. the chicken is expected to leave these margins. To this we add the hazelnuts, elderberries, and manure income. How well the operation is managed will define if the farmer incurs more cost or less, and the net margins that each chicken will deliver. The financial planning module in the training system will address these questions in full detail, but the above indicators should suffice for anyone to do their own back-of-the-envelope analysis. Of course if the farmer is going to raise small amounts of chickens and seek to direct sell them, they will have to do their own numbers, this system is intended to support farmers seeking to be part of a collective system where their products are sold at the farm-gate at wholesale prices to a system the farmer also owns, and from which there will be further income/profits generated if the collective generates such profits. This value added profits are only available to those who participate in the system not farmers who decide to go at it alone. For those going alone, factor the higher price you can sell your chickens and the higher cost of bringing the chicken from the farm to a form ready to sell, extra labor, transportation, insurance, meeting regulations, and other costs and risks that those in the collective manage differently. After these calculations are included a farmer may get a better sense of their final net profit margins. In the financial training section you will learn how these costs aggregate, the basic conclusion is that only collectively can profit margins be generated, the higher price of selling direct comes at a much higher cost than the lower margins generated through the collective. Including the cost of never being able to separate from the day-to-day aspect of retailing products.
What types of trees are in your paddocks? What’s the best type of tree to plant?
Our paddocks include hazelnut and elderberry bushes for the understory and oak, basswood, hickory nuts, and sugar maple trees for the overstory. Trees will take a while to grow, but these are the species we will be planting from day one and growing as the system gets established.
What do you do about predators?
We have installed the understory and overstory perennial/forest species for the purpose of protecting the chickens from aerial predators and also to cool the ground, provide shade, and relax the chickens, this results in an almost foolproof protection from aerial predators.
For ground-level predators we do two things, a) build and carefully maintain a perimeter fence, b) ensure that all chickens are in the nighttime shelter before dusk, this includes three days of systemic training of the chickens on the first few days of week 5 when they start roaming. This way we eliminate almost 100% of predator issues. When a predator issue arises it is normally possible to isolate it to something very specific and easier to identify as there are not many ways predators can penetrate the system and go unnoticed.
How do you keep the chickens away from the crops?
The chickens roam amongst the crops! However, the crops we are raising are elevated off the ground and the chickens cannot reach the crops themselves.
Are the chickens free range?
Yes, the chickens are free range during the day, roaming paddocks and devouring anything nature has to offer as well as the sprouted grains we supplement them. They have covered, heated shelter overnight that is protected from the elements and predators.
Are the chickens given any antibiotics?
No, they do not receive any antibiotics. We use all natural medicines when they are deemed needed.
What do you do with the hazelnuts and elderberries?
We continue to explore what hazelnuts and elderberries have to offer as a food source! We’ve been drying and roasting the hazelnuts. Elderberries have been made into syrup and the flowers are dried and made into tea.
What breed of chickens are you raising?
We currently only use Freedom Rangers, which is a slow-growth breed, but we are constantly searching for breeds that meet quality standards as well as simple chicken living standards such as capacity to roam, feathering capacity, weight, body proportions, and many other critical indicators that a chicken has not been degenerated for and to make it fit only for industrial confinement production.
How do you treat a sick chicken?
We use a protocol based on natural medicinal compounds that we have researched based on ancestral medicines and methods. The main concern for us has been how to keep chickens healthy so we don’t have to treat sick ones at all. So far, the system delivers such a high level of animal welfare that there have been only a handful of cases of sick chickens in the last 13 years the system has been operating. When a chicken does get sick, protocols are in place for natural treatments which have worked to recover flocks from rapidly advancing cases of coccidiosis with minimal losses and no need for pharmaceuticals. We do reserve the right to use antibiotics if a situation is too severe and in case our systems were not to work, but in the history of this system this has not been necessary.
Are you certified organic?
Some farmers are in the process of organic certification, but all farms under this system are expected to enter the organic certification process as soon as they decide to join the system. The goal is to establish organic certification as the beginning point of moving towards the regenerative poultry system we are part of.
Do the chickens eat mice and other pests? What is their daily diet?
No, chickens don’t eat the mice. When mice are trapped as part of our pest control system, they are placed on high points and fed to crows, as the crows are trained to seek the pests we feed them, they take home around our farms and they are one of the most effective forms of scaring away aerial predators. The crows have never bothered the chickens.
Their daily diet consists of regular ground-up feed, forages grown in the paddocks they are rotated into regularly, and a sprouted grain mix that is dispersed throughout the paddocks which they fetch, the spread grain is used both as food supplements and as a way to train the chickens to roam into certain areas they may miss.
Are the chickens processed humanely?
Yes, the processing facility is humane certified and we meet and exceed those standards.
Is the chicken processing facility USDA inspected?
Yes! Our processing plant is USDA inspected and complies with all local, state and federal guidelines.