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Photo Credit: Edwin Remsburg


Selling On-line, a 24/7 Opportunity

In This Issue:

By: Ginger S. Myers, University of Maryland Extension The USDA’s first survey of Local Food Marketing Practices, conducted in 2015, found 167,009 U.S. farms sold $8.7 billion in edible food directly to consumers, retailers, institutions, and local distributors. Consumers accounted for 35 percent of these direct food sales, and retailers, 27 percent. Direct farm sales include both fresh foods and processed or value added products such as bottled milk, cheese, meat, jam, cider, wine, etc.1 Although 73 percent of all farms in the survey reported internet access, only 8 percent sold product via on-line market places. Not too long ago, access to reliable internet service proved to be a barrier to on-line sales for farms in different parts of the country but, since three -quarter of the farms responding to the survey had access, that problem can’t be the deterrent any longer. The popularity of sites like Amazon, countless retail sites, and the annual “Black Friday and Internet Monday” shopping seasons, attest to the potential customer base that exist for on-line sales. So why aren’t more direct marketing farms selling their products through on-line sales channels? Why don’t more direct marketing farms engage in e-commerce?

Selling On-line, A 24/7 Opportunity Pg 1-2 Upcoming Events Pg 3 Small Flock Housing Requirements Pg 4-5

Electronic commerce (e-commerce) is a transaction for goods or services enacted on-line. It could be the sales of products reservations, or providing a service all simply paid for on-line. E-commerce can be an attractive and very cost effective way to allow customers to shop anytime, anywhere, and on multiple devices. It can also allow you the flexibility to fulfill orders Continued on next page>> on your own time schedule.


Selling On-line, a 24/7 Opportunity Ginger Myers, University of Maryland Extension

You should consider: ►What on-line tools will I use ( e-commerce, website, social media, e-payment gateway, etc.)? ►Do I want to offer shipping and if so, what are the charges and carriers for that service? ►How will I promote my on-line sales? ►How will I accept on-line order and payments? ►What procedures will I need to implement to get orders processed quickly and efficiently? ►What’s my costs/benefits equation? A major component of e-commerce, and the one producers often tell me challenges them the most, is the need for customers to be able to make a payment on-line. Electronic methods of taking payments are called “gateways.” The most common gateway is credit card processing. Third party merchant accounts are very secure but can be cost prohibitive for small businesses. Alternatives to a merchant account are Personto-Person (P2P) payment services. These keep track of funds available to both the buyer and the seller. The buyer and seller (or service provider) both need to have an account with the P2P service. The most popular P2P service is PayPal, but others are now gaining market acceptance. On-line payment options are a must when considering developing your on-line store. “With 90 percent of all online purchases made with credit cards, you literally cannot afford not to add this payment option to your site. If you've been hesitating to accept credit card payments online, the good news is that, as soon as you give your customers this option, you should see a noticeable jump in sales.” Corey Rudl, Payment Options for On -line Shoppers, article/58384

Setting up and operating an on-line store for your products or services is a big job but, it can have big returns for your business. Internet sales are only growing, not contracting. If you think e-commerce is the next step for your business, here are some basic pieces of infrastructure you’ll need to develop. Don’t think you have to go it alone. Hire the technical assistance you need. ►Website─A website is the cornerstone for a farm’s online presence. Not having a website is like not have a phone number. ►Shopping cart software─When offering multiple items on-line, a shopping cart helps. Check with your web hosting company or ecommerce platform provider to see what they offer ►Payment processing─Figure out how you’re going to take payment on-line. ►Email support─You’ll need to have an email address where customers can contact you if something goes wrong, they want to change their order, or arrange for pickup. Setting up an e-commerce store doesn’t need to be overwhelming as long as you’ve done your research and made informed decisions. Additional resources and publications supporting direct marketing opportunities are available on the University of Maryland Extension Agriculture 2

Upcoming Events April 4/29– Grow it Eat It Spring Open House, See back for details May 5/9-

Irrigation Workshop for Fresh Market Producers, Wicomico Extension Office

5/10- Bugs that Bite: Vector Arthropods and How to Avoid them Online Webinar 5/13– Charles County Rain Barrel Workshop 5/13– Charles County Compost Bin Workshop June 6/19– Fundamentals of Nutrient Management, Maryland Department of Agriculture 6/24– Master Gardener Composting Demonstration, Harford County Extension Office July 7/26– Hiring Farm Employees– Process and Recommendations, Online Webinar

Click event for details, or visit: for a full list of events.

Upcoming Field School Events: 4/28- Permaculture Profits: Integrating Specialty Crop Production & Livestock Management

5/13– Tackling Global Issues through Food Choices: Regenerative Agriculture and How You Can Make a Difference

For more information visit 3

Small Flock Housing Requirements Housing should provide protection from all kinds of weather, predators, injury, and theft. Consider the location of your poultry house on your property. Locate the building in a well drained area, with access to water and electricity. Your job is to keep the birds comfortable at all times. The house should be tight, well ventilated and insulated. It is important to provide adjustable ventilation for adequate air movement in cold and hot weather. Permanent or temporary housing are two options to consider. A permanent house will remain in the same location on the property. Temporary or portable housing can be moved frequently throughout the property. Temporary or portable housing is typically used when birds are raised on pasture. Pastured poultry includes raising chickens or other poultry on pasture rather than raising them indoors. Typically, the birds are raised in bottomless pens directly on pasture and provided feed and water daily. Depending on the breed of poultry, you may want to consider outside run areas. Outside run areas can be fenced with temporary or permanent fencing and overhead netting to protect the birds from predators. Bedding is material such as shavings or sawdust spread on the chicken house floor. The floor can be concrete, wooden, or dirt. Use a (½–inch) mesh hardware cloth over windows to keep out wild birds, rodents and varmints. Birds need adequate space for movement, nesting and roost areas. Space requirements vary with type of bird.

Minimum Space Requirements of Various Bird Types (Clauer, 2009)

Type of Bird

Sq ft/

Sq ft/Bird

Bird Inside

Outside Run

Bantam Chickens



Laying Hens



Large Chickens















Rearing Poultry Brooding Newly hatched chicks need heat during the first few weeks of rearing. There are many types of chick brooders that can be adapted to a small flock. Standard hover brooders can be used for starting a flock of up to 1,000 chicks. The common infrared lamp is an inexpensive way to brood a small, 25-to-100 chick flock. The heat lamp should be at least 18 inches above the floor. In winter, make sure the room is insulated so heat lamps are effective in producing enough heat for the chicks. A two-lamp unit provides safety in case one burns out during cold weather. Start brooding chicks at 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit (F) for the first week, reduce the temperature gradually by 5° F each week until the chicks are five weeks old and the house temperature is 70-75 degrees F. It is a good idea to hang a thermometer at chick level to monitor brood temperature. The behavior of the chicks is a better indicator of their comfort. If the chicks have loud, sharp chirps and they bunch near the heat source, they are cold. If they are panting and bunched in the corner away from the heat source, they are too warm. A circular barrier called a brooder guard, usually 15 to 16 inches high and made of cardboard or other solid material, confines the chicks. This guard also reduces drafts of cold air, and keeps chicks near the heat source during the first seven to ten days.

Feeders Manufactured chick-feeder designs vary from the commercially used cardboard or plastic feeder lid to the metal trough type. Homemade boxes, egg flats and similar low, open designs are acceptable as long as the chicks have easy access to the feed, and feed waste is controlled. Provide enough space so that nearly all the chicks can eat at the same time. To avoid feed waste, gradually change chicks to regular tube or trough feeders so that open feeders can be removed when the chicks are 10 days old. Hanging tube and trough feeders for all ages are available from farm supply dealers. Hanging tube feeders are adjustable and can be used for chickens from one week through adulthood. Trough feeders have a limited capacity for adjustment, which makes it necessary to use at least three different sizes of feeders during the growing cycle of the birds.


A feeder can be built from scrap lumber, but it is critical that it be designed to avoid feed waste. The feeder must have a grill or other device to keep chickens from roosting on it or scratching in it and a lip to keep the feed from being spilled out. It is also essential that the feeder be the correct height (the back height of the chickens). Allow 2-3 inches of feeder space per bird for a laying hen or a meat bird.

Dropping pits help with litter bedding and manure management; they catch a good portion of the bird’s feces as well as water spillage. The dropping pit should be wire covered and at least 12 to 16 inches off the floor. Clean the dropping pit regularly, particularly if wet conditions develop and ensure a modest flow of air over bedding and manure to suppress the growth of bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella.

Waterers (Drinkers)


It is important that chicks have easy access to water at all times. Manufactured chick waterers (also called drinkers) are usually gallon or quart jars that screw onto special bases. Once filled, the waterers are inverted and the chicks drink out of the base. Another type of waterer is called a poultry fountain. The poultry fountain maintains a constant water level in the pan by a vacuum and the top is designed to prevent roosting. A five gallon waterer can accommodate up to 75 hens. Height of waterers should be two inches shorter than the back height of the chickens. Allow 2-3 inches of drinker space per bird. Clean waterers and replenish with fresh water daily so chickens have access to clean water at all times.

Artificial light benefits all types of poultry. Adequate lighting will maximize production of birds. One 25-watt incandescent bulb will light 40 square feet or one 40-watt incandescent bulb provides adequate light for 200 square feet of floor space. If the ceiling is painted white or a light reflector is used, the quality of light is enhanced. Proper artificial light during the fall and winter months will stimulate and maintain egg production in laying hens. A combination of natural and artificial light to give laying hens 14 hours of light is effective in maintaining egg production throughout the year. Usually broilers and roasters grow well with 24-hour light, but can be grown with only 8 to 10 hours, such as that provided by natural light. Installing an automatic timer is an inexpensive and easy to install tool to help adjust the amount of artificial light provided in the house.

Nests Chickens kept for egg production should have access to nests at 19 to 20 weeks of age. Giving young pullets the opportunity to find nests one to two weeks before they start laying helps prevent them from developing the habit of laying on the floor. Nest boxes and roost areas should be placed 24 inches above the floor. One 10 inch x 10 inch nest box per four to five chickens will be adequate. Keep one to two inches of clean, dry nesting material (straw or pine shavings) in the nest. Make sure nesting areas are separate from the roosting area so birds don’t roost in the nesting boxes. Nesting boxes will become very dirty if hens are roosting in the nesting boxes.

Roosts/Perches The best way to understand a chicken is to remember that most birds roost in trees. Roosts or perches provide comfortable sleeping for hens. Roosts can be rods or tree branches at least two inches in diameter. Allow at least 6-7 inches of roost space per bird. Keep roosts higher than the nesting boxes. Hens will roost on the highest point in the house. Waste/Litter Management

For more information on Poultry and Small Flock Production visit:


Events of Interest MidAtlantic Permacutlure Design Certification and Advanced Permaculture Design Course When: May 27-June 11, 2017 (16 days) Where: Cricket Cove Farm: Victoria, Virginia Price: $1295 after April 18th

Spring Open House 2017 Saturday, April 29th Agricultural History Farm Park, Derwood MD

Join us at the emerging Permaculture and agroforestry site of Cricket's Cove Farm. An ideal learning site which includes several existing enterprises and water harvesting agroforestry systems at various stages of growth. You will learn how to use design to transform your environment into a sustainable and regenerative system. You will learn to design from pattern to detail applying strategy to select appropriate techniques and technologies. Empowered by these tools you can create a world of abundance for yourself and those around you.

Click here for more information Click here to register

12-4 pm Come join us for this fun event about growing anything edible! Visit our garden, meet with our Master Gardener consultants, attend classes, demonstrations, tables of information, and visit our plant sale! Event Classes/Workshops:

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Vegetable Gardening in Small Spaces Small Fruits Planting for Pollinators Gourmet Vegetables Seed Saving Gardening for Herbal Tea Tomato Grafting Workshop Mushroom Growing Workshop

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Click here to receive this newsletter every month “This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number #2012-49400-19552. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The University of Maryland, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources programs are open to all and will not discriminate against anyone because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry, or national origin, marital status, genetic information, or political affiliation, or gender identity and expression. 6

Spring2017 bf newsletter2  
Spring2017 bf newsletter2