PRAIRIE PRIDE POULTRY – Daniel Hromas

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Daniel Hromas participated and graduated from the FARM BEGINNINGS® program in 2013. He then was able to rent some land and start Prairie Pride Poultry near York, NE.  I first visited his farm near York in February 2014. This is a photo of his farm.  He has a laying flock of Rhode Island Reds.

Daniel was a Disabled American Veteran who served in the Middle East. With assistance  from the Veterans Administration, Farm Service Agency and Farmers Veterans Coalition he was able to begin his farming operation. Through the networking from FARM BEGINNINGS® , presenters Ruth Chantry & Evrett Lundquist from Common Good Farm connected Daniel with landowners in York where he leased 3 acres for his farm. “Common Good Farm” also provided Daniel with some valuable advice as he started and developed his new laying flock of Rhode Island Reds. He was able to purchase these portable buildings from Mid-American Structures at Peru, NE. With these portable structures, he was able to move them to his farm when he purchased it.

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Daniel utilized an electrified fence to keep hens in and also some of the predators out on his farm in York.

Daniel had about 400-500 hens in his flock on his farm near York.  Starting out  in York he marketed eggs to Grand Central Foods in York, NE. He also sold eggs to the Chances “R” Restaurant in York and sold at the Old Cheney Farmers Market in Lincoln and on the Nebraska Food Coop, an on-line local food coop.

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I had the opportunity to visit and interview Daniel last year when I visited his new farm he purchased on the west side of Grand Island, NE.  Daniel now has over 15 acres. He has an opportunity to expand his farm into other enterprises.

Daniel  moved his portable buildings from his farm in York. He now has permanent fencing, a tractor to help with the chores and feed storage as shown in the photo above. Daniel has expanded his flock to 500-600 hens.  Besides the Rhode Island Reds he started with, he now has some other breeds that do well in his operation.  From the photo above you see he has several of the Gold Sex Link Hens. These are very gentile and excellent egg producers, laying on average over 300 eggs/per hd/per year.  These are brown egg layers.  He also has some Black Australorps and Barred Rocks in his flock.

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This photo shows some of the Black Australorps Dan has incorporated into his flock.
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With the expanded acreage, Daniel has more room to grow other animals.  He has expanded into producing swine on his farm so he can sell pork directly to consumers.

Daniel also has expanded his operation into broiler production.  He raises from 100-150 broilers annually and sells these direct to consumers as well.  Most of these are sold at the Old Cheney Farmers Market in Lincoln where he goes 2 times a month when they are open from spring through fall (April – October).

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With Daniel expanding his markets and traveling to Kearney, York and Lincoln delivering his eggs, and selling pork and chicken; he has a trailer to haul his local food products in and deliver to his customers.

Daniel continues to deliver eggs to Grand Central Foods in York, but now also sells eggs to four Hy-Vee locations, one in Kearney, Grand Island, Williamsburg Hy-Vee in Lincoln and the 5010 O St. location in Lincoln.  He also sells to two restaurants in the Lincoln area that source almost all of their food locally, “The Hub” at 250 N 21 St. in Lincoln and Prairie Plate Restaurant at 10405 Branched Oak Rd. near Waverly, NE.  Daniel continues to sell at the Old Cheney Farmers Market, on the Nebraska Food Coop on-line market, direct from his farm near Grand Island and to other customers in the Lincoln area.

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Daniel’s egg laying operation is very labor intensive, but the purchase of some equipment, such as the tractor and portable bulk storage feed unit have helped improve the efficiency of his operation and save time and labor. 

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With a flock between 500-600 hens and very productive egg layers, it takes a lot of time to collect all these eggs every day. I caught Dan collecting eggs when I visited his farm near Grand Island last year.

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Daniel runs his eggs through an egg washer.
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Daniel will then sort the eggs by size for packaging.  The breeds of chickens that Daniel has in his flock produce brown eggs, most of which are large or very large and excellent quality. 
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An example of Daniel’s brown eggs after they come out of the egg washer. 
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Daniel puts a stamp on each carton of eggs which shows the eggs come from his farm “Prairie Pride Poultry”. 
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Daniel keeps his eggs in cartons, sorted by size, in refrigerators until it is time for him to deliver the eggs. 
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Here is photo of Daniel Hromas at the “Old Cheney Farmers’ Market in Lincoln.

Besides Daniel’s extremely hard work on his farm, he has been a spokesperson for the Farmers Veterans Coalition and all Veterans. He was named a Champion of Change by the Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation Services.  He went to Washington D.C. to receive this award. He has also had Congressman Adrian Smith visit his farm near Grand Island.  He has been to Washington D.C. talking to representatives about Veteran’s and local food issues. If you want to find out more about Daniel Hromas and Prairie Pride Poultry, go to https://localhens.com/farms/profile/prairie-pride-poultry/ or on Facebook at:   https://www.facebook.com/prairieprideacres/.

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FARM BEGINNINGS® SCHEDULED FOR JANUARY IN SOUTHEAST NEBRASKA

Nebraska Extension is planning its 9th Farm Beginnings® Program at the Kimmel Education and Research Center at 5985 G Road Nebraska City, NE  68410 for January, 2018. Plans are being made for Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society to facilitate the Farm Beginnings® Program to be held in Nebraska City.  The Farm Beginnings® Program is an educational training and support program designed to help people who want to evaluate and plan their farm enterprise.  Farm Beginnings® participants engage in a mentorship experience and network with a variety of successful, innovative farmers; attend practical, high quality seminars, field days and conferences.  The program is unique in that several successful farmers participate in the program as presenters, explaining firsthand the nuts and bolts of their farming operation.  While this isn’t a program for someone wanting to get into conventional farming, it is a program that has attracted several people interested in farming on a smaller scale, some who have migrated out from urban to rural areas.

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One past participant in the class said, “This program had a huge impact.  I have improved my business plan, my overall efficiency and continue to try new ideas I thought to not be possible.”  Any beginning farmer would benefit from attending these training sessions.  Most of the farmers that present come from small to medium sized farming operations that produce and market many different diversified and value-added products.  Many of these farmers direct market their products.

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The Farm Beginnings® Program consists of a series of 11 sessions from January through April that cover a variety of topics including: building networks, goal setting, whole farm planning, building your business plan, marketing, business and farm management and financial management.  While the class participants will learn firsthand from the farmers, they will also work on developing their own business plan as they progress through the course.  As part of the class tuition, participants will also have the opportunity to attend the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society’s Healthy Farms Conference in 2018 to be held this winter.  This is a conference that has been held annually for a number of years and has sessions that focus on topics in sustainable agriculture, such as: vegetable production, grass-fed beef, pasture poultry, meat and dairy goat production, composting, cover crops, organic farming, growing crops in high-tunnels, bee keeping, farm transitioning and agri-tourism.  We also schedule farm tours early in the course and tour several farms in the summer to see how the farmers are operating.  If interested, participants also have the opportunity to have a farmer mentor.

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” Following the classroom portion of Farm Beginnings®, the class tours several farms that produce local food or organic products, i.e. alfalfa, corn, soybeans, milk, cheese, eggs and honey.  These are photos of West Blue Farm where Dave and Deb Welsch practice mob grazing and direct market beef and poultry.  Dave has been a presenter with our Farm Beginnings® programs for several years, teaching about the importance of financial management and managing cash flow on their farm.
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“We tour Ralph Tate’s Grass Farm near Fairbury, NE. where he mob grazes cattle through his pastures. Ralph has also utilized cover crops as he transitioned some row crop land into grassland for his operation. Ralph participated in our first Farm Beginnings classes in 2005-6.  He then became a certified Holistic Management Instructor  & teaches the Holistic Management portion & a session on Financial Management as well in the class (see Farm Beginnings Agenda).

Participants of this course may be interested in becoming involved with growing alternative crops, producing fruits and vegetables for direct sale to consumers, grocery stores or restaurants.  Others may be interested in growing livestock for direct marketing.  This is an opportunity for people interested in learning about this type of farming from farmers that are doing it and making a living at it.

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” Two regular presenters at Farm Beginnings are Travis Dunekacke from T D Niche Pork and Paul Rohrbaugh from Pawnee Pride Meats.  Travis produces and markets heritage breed swine to several restaurants in the Lincoln and Omaha urban area of southeast Nebraska.  He has built relationships with chefs at these restaurants which has taken a long time.  Paul Rohrbaugh has pasture raised poultry and grass-fed beef he direct markets to consumers. We tour Travis’s and Paul’s farms regularly following the Farm Beginnings class (see photos above).
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“Another regular presenter and tour stop for the Farm Beginnings® class is Common Good Farm; Ruth Chantry and Evrett Lundquist’s  Organic and Biodynamic Farm near Raymond, NE. They sell at area farmer’s markets, off of their farm and also have a CSA. They produce and market locally many types of vegetables, eggs, honey, beef, pork and starter plants. They explain the challenges and intricacies of their vary diversified operation during our class.

We also provide for the class participants the SARE resource, “Building a Sustainable Business and the MOSES publication, “Fearless Farm Finances”.  We also provide a number of SARE resources and Farm Beginnings® exercises and references.  Toward the end of the class we have previous Farm Beginnings®  graduates give presentations about their farming operations.  The final classroom session highlights what each of the farms participating in the class plan for their farms.

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Previous Farm Beginnings® graduate Gary Fehr from “Green School Farm” is growing vegetables, selling them locally and has a small CSA in the Lincoln area.  The above photo is from his farm. His farm was also highlighted in a previous blog.  It can be found at: https://saremansagnews.wordpress.com/2017/05/05/green-school-farms-gary-fehr/ .

Cost of the total program is $500, but you may qualify for a partial scholarship for up to $200.   For more information, a brochure for the Farm Beginnings® Program  or an application go to our website at https://extension.unl.edu/statewide/nemaha/farm-beginnings-0/. For more information about the program you can also contact Gary Lesoing, Extension Educator at glesoing2@unl.edu or at (402) 274-4755, Nebraska Extension in Nemaha County.