Part-owner Rob Litch has taken big strides in expanding his business to an economically feasible scale while maintaining the ethical principles that customers expect from a locally owned and operated business. Misty Knoll is Vermont’s largest producer of chickens by a wide margin with 225,000 raised annually.
Despite its status as a major producer within Vermont, Rob maintains the farm’s integrity in part by feeding grains to his chickens, which are free of antibiotics and hormones. Many large-scale chicken operations use excessive amounts of antibiotics in order to fend off sicknesses that breed quickly given the cramped, inhumane conditions in which the birds are often housed. Misty Knoll has been able to keep its chickens healthy without antibiotics by giving their animals enough space to move (double the industry standard) as well as ample food and water. As of this semester, UMass Dining is now sourcing 100% of its chicken antibiotic free!
Increasing local, New England meat production has proven to be a difficult task because it’s costly and there are so few slaughterhouses in the region. Misty Knoll owes a lot of its success to the fact that it operates its own slaughterhouse directly on the farm. This allows them to cut out the middleman and control their product all the way to dining halls and supermarkets. Keeping production costs as low as possible is crucial to be able to compete with the industry giants, Tyson and Perdue.
Misty Knoll has something that the national producers don’t have – better-tasting chicken. Rob attributes this to the fact that his chickens are happy; happy chickens mean better chicken.
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