Seattle Fish is proud to partner with Miller Poultry to bring their all-natural, high-quality chicken to our customers! Our Gourmet Sales Manager Brandi and Sales Representative Diane recently had the opportunity to visit the Miller Poultry farm in Orland, Indiana and experience first-hand the passion, care, and hands-on approach that the Miller family puts into their business – from the hen house, all the way to the harvesting facility.
Miller is a third-generation family-owned business. In 1974, Galen Miller and his father made the switch from raising turkeys to raising chickens, a story that Galen shared with Brandi and Diane personally their first night as they enjoyed a family BBQ with Galen and Matt, Miller’s president. Growing up in Amish country, Galen shared, his family wanted to keep the opportunities within the community. He also made the decision to deviate from the industry standard and feed his birds an all-vegetarian diet.
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Today, Miller’s home-grown chickens are fed a corn and soy-based diet with no antibiotics, no artificial ingredients or coloring, and no hormones, which is produced at their own feed mill in New Paris, Indiana. Samples are pulled from each truckload of corn and soy to measure for crop quality and moisture content before it goes into processing and Miller’s nutritionist is continually testing finished feed pellets for top quality and nutrition content.
Brandi and Diane’s tour continued through the Miller offices, hatchery, feed mill, Amish grower barn and production facility.
The process begins at the hatchery, where hundreds of thousands of eggs arrive daily from Miller breeder farms. Eggs can be cooled and held for up to ten days before moving to the incubation chambers so new flocks hatch at the exact right time.
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Once in the incubation chamber, eggs are held in temperature controlled and ventilated chambers with racks that tilt 90 degrees every 45 minutes to mimic how a hen would turn her eggs throughout the day. This process lasts 21 days. The chambers are carefully monitored for temperature, humidity and CO2 so if anything is off alerts go straight to the phones of on-call team members.
Around day 14, the future flocks are spot checked with a process called “Candling” to check for fertilization and embryo development, which is done by holding up a flashlight to the egg, illuminating what is happening inside. Once they are done incubating, the fertilized eggs make their way to a hatching chamber where, over an 18-hour period, the chickens emerge from their shells.
Specially designed trucks help the newly hatched chicks to one of Miller’s grower barns. This is done with immense care, as the chicks give off one BTU of heat per pound, so the trucks need to have exactly the right cooling and ventilation systems to make the chicks comfortable on their journey. Each grower barn is additionally constructed with care, and are built and monitored to ensure Miller Chickens live a comfortable life, including having a certain number of “playground elements” per square foot (anything the birds can climb on, lay on, or interact with).
Every Miller chicken has ample space and is “free to roam”. Additionally, and unlike commodity barns, Miller chickens have 24/7 access to water and feed. After 42 days of care, the chickens are rounded up by hand to bring to the processing plant.
Apart from the chickens and farm, Brandi and Diane were also impressed by the way the Miller family cares for their employees as much as they do their flocks. With the recent expansion of processing facilities, the Miller family built a state-of-the-art cafeteria that will serve fresh, nutritious, low-cost, company supplemented meals while employees are working.