In 2006, Heartland Agribusiness clients Cindy and Steve Burkhart were not farming. Far from it. Cindy worked a public service job and Steve was a crop insurance adjuster. But they’d always dreamed about being able to work from home, side by side with their family, as full-time farmers. Reflecting back on their own upbringing on family farms, the couple decided to purchase a 266 acre plot of land in Norwich, Ohio and opened Burkhart Farms with their daughter and son-in-law. In 2013, the Burkharts built two cage free broiler barns and, and with Heartland Bank’s help, they recently added a third barn to their farm. They also grow hay, corn and soybeans as well as raise a small herd of beef cattle.
What’s a broiler barn?
Broiler barns house chickens that are grown and bred for human consumption. Inside the barn, heating and cooling pads are used to provide automated climate control. Feeding and watering the chickens is also automated so they can get nutritious feed and clean water. While Cindy walks the barns twice daily to inspect the health of the birds, the quality of their water and the availability to the feed, she can also monitor barns from her smart phone. According to Joel Oney, VP Agribusiness at Heartland Bank, “Cage free barns provide the most comfortable environment for livestock and also provide the highest quality production.” Depending on the body weight, broiler chickens are marketed when they are between 4 and 10 weeks old. They are available in grocery stores and are widely used by fast food restaurants.
And what’s the connection to Case Farms?
Case Farms is one of approximately 35 companies nationwide that are involved in the business of raising, processing and marketing chickens on a vertically integrated basis – so that the company is able to ensure quality at each step of the process. By growing the chickens, the Burkharts perform a key step in that process and are consistently ranked among the top growers for performance with Case Farms. Their commitment to quality shows.
The Burkhart family farm helps to ensure plentiful, high-quality food for a growing population. They are proud of the way they utilize the most modern technology to care for their chickens and they value the involvement of their family, children and grandchildren. They are achieving their dream of creating a family farm in the rolling hills of eastern Ohio.
When asked about his relationship with Heartland Bank, Steve said, “Joel Oney and his team were wonderful to work with. We were actually referred to Heartland by Case Farms and a neighboring farmer who previously worked with the bank. ”
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