Alna planning board

Alna eyes proposed chicken business

Wed, 02/10/2021 - 8:30am

Jade and Davis Archer want a business permit to raise and slaughter certified organic chickens at their Echo Farm, 104 Sheepscot Road in Alna. They told the planning board over Zoom Tuesday night, Feb. 9, they would slaughter about 1,000 this year, at 8 weeks old in rounds of about 150, with a total of about 400 chickens on-site at a time, one third of them babies.

Until now, the Archers have processed smaller numbers of chickens for personal use. The applicants said the business will sell chicken to grocery stores and will raise the chickens on their neighbors’ pasture. The Archers said the green grass from the increased chicken manure will feed their cow, also on the neighbors’ pasture; the chickens will be in pens, moved daily.

If the neighbors changed their mind, plan B would probably be to move the chickens to Newcastle and go there daily, the Archers said. At the board’s request, they plan to provide a letter from the neighbors confirming permission for the land’s use.

Davis Archer is a carpenter; Jade Archer, a Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association inspector; and together they have about 20 years’ full-time farming experience, including his work at a poultry processing facility.

“We’re not brand new to doing what we’re proposing,” he said. 

They said the processing facility in their garage will need a state license. They went to the planning board for a business permit. The board set a 4 p.m. Feb. 23 site walk and plans to take up the application again in March.

Board member Peter Tischbein said he has kept chickens for decades. “That’s a labor-intensive endeavor ... So good for you,” Tischbein told the applicants. Responding to board questions, the Archers said they kill the chickens before they are old enough to crow, there has not been a predator problem and they do not anticipate one, and none of their chickens escaped last year. “We got 47 chicks ... and killed all 47 of them,” Davis Archer said. 

Also Feb. 9, Crooker Construction proposed another March to December blasting season. According to the presentation, the firm will continue past years’ work of mining bedrock and blasting for bedrock. The board will consider voting on the permit request at the panel’s 6:30 p.m. March 2 meeting, Chair Jim Amaral said.