Celebrate September Chicken Month with this month’s Leaders of the Land® Ed Rippley, a chicken farmer from Waumandee, Wis.
Introduce yourself and tell us about your farm.
I’m Ed Rippley from Buffalo County. I farm in the hills and valleys of Wisconsin’s driftless region. I am a contract grower for Pilgrim’s Pride. I have been raising chickens for 18 years and also have goats, steers and cash crops on our farm.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability means continuing to farm on my family’s land for the third generation. Raising chickens allows our family to continue farming with a flexible lifestyle.
Our family milked cows before transitioning the farm to raise chickens. We found new ways to generate income and be successful stewards of the land and our resources. The chickens diversify our business and provide a benefit to our land using the chicken litter as fertilizer for our crops.
How do you keep water clean?
We have a stream that goes through our farm that area fishermen like to visit. It is important that we keep our water clean so we can be good members of our community and take care of our resources. I have done projects to stabilize the creek bed due to past flooding. In the driftless area, we rely a lot on grassed waterways to filter water as it naturally flows downhill. We also do no-till and plant cover crops on our slopes to hold the soil in place and prevent erosion.
How does technology help you be more sustainable on your farm?
We use technology in our chicken coop to maintain heat zones. It manages the rate that feed is delivered to the chickens and measures how much water they are consuming. The system can alarm us when something is wrong in the barn so we can actively respond when a waterline is damaged or a feed line malfunctions. This technology helps us to be more efficient and manage our time.
Why is sustainability important on your farm?
Sustainability is important to me because I want to set up our farm for success for the next generations. My grandkids come visit me on the farm and I want it to be around for them someday.