New “Hen House” changing lives in Cullman

We begin tonight with chickens...growing chickens in the backyard- sounds like something from...
We begin tonight with chickens...growing chickens in the backyard- sounds like something from the old days, but actually these days--it's seeing a new hay day in popularity across America. It's illegal in Rapid City limits right now...but could that be changing?
Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 1:12 PM CDT
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By Shilo Groover | July 28, 2020 at 5:29 PM CDT - Updated July 29 at 10:21 AM

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Every morning, Chad Crutchfield goes into a 1,000 square foot hen house on The Foundry Farm in Cullman and collects hundreds of eggs.

“You wake up in the morning you feed them and water them a few hours later they start laying eggs. About 250 eggs a day,” he says.

The new hen house has been in operation a month now, and Foundry Ministries CEO Micah Andrews says it is already offering new options for the men in the recovery program at The Foundry Farm.

“Employment readiness and employment training has been a part of the foundry process for two decades so this adds a unique element for The Foundry Farm that we don’t experience at other locations. Not only is it a real tangible skill these guys are learning it enhances that employment educational process,” says Andrews. “It creates an opportunity for us to teach from beginning to end the poultry industry to men that are coming to us for recovery services so they can have a new skill set when they leave the foundry farm.”

Men in rehabilitation program at The Foundry Farm are in charge of everything from caring for the hens to collecting and processing the eggs.

“This is perfect for learning experience it’s just wonderful. It is a small enough operation where you can really train somebody and not have the bulk of eggs and chicken to take care of,” says Crutchfield.

From the building to the hens, everything was donated by community partners in Cullman.

Not only is the hen house project offering a new kind of job training for the man in the program, it is also saving The Foundry the $20,000 a year they normally spent on eggs.

“We are consuming all the eggs that are being laid, at all our locations in Bessemer, Birminghanm and in Cullman as part of our food services process,” says Andrews. “The neatest aspect for the men working with the hens is seeing a concept go to completion. They are seeing the hens that they are feeding and taking care of every day and the next morning they are eating the fruit of their labor.”

The program has only been running a month now, but Andrews says it’s already a success, and more men are wanting to sign up.

“It’s not the most glamorous job on the farm but they have really embraced it and it’s become one of those coveted positions,” says Andrews.

For Crutchfield, he grew up in a poultry farming family, and he says it’s setting him up for success.

“It’s a real blessing to come to a rehab facility and have a chicken house, I believe I am not here on accident, this is absolutely a meaningful experience for me,” says Crutchfield.

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