Eight poultry growers took advantage of the Georgia Poultry Association’s free bus from Calhoun, Georgia to the International Poultry Expo in Atlanta last month.

Because of traffic, the bus ride took twice as long as normal, giving the growers from Northern Georgia plenty of time to talk politics, housing structures and much more.

This was the first time – or the first time in many years – many of the growers were attending the expo. Some of the reasons they hadn’t attended in past years was the transportation issue and also the high price of admission. The U.S. Poultry and Egg Association offered discounted admission for growers this year.

One of the growers, Mitchell McDougle, from Adairsville, Georgia, attended the expo for the first time. He quit his day job last year to start a poultry growing operation. McDougle said he wanted to see what was out there and how he might better run his farm.

Among the displays at the expo that caught McDougle’s eye were vent boards, solar panels and technology to control litter odor. McDougle said he planned on looking into purchasing the solar panels, saying “When you think about it, it’s free heat.” He said probably pass on the vent boards, saying he could make something similar himself for less money, but said the expo gave him some “good ideas.”

The topic of poultry litter odor brought about some of the liveliest discussion on the bus. Long time grower, and Rome, Georgia, resident, Thad Rush, said some of his neighbors have been complaining about the smell from the 30,000 birds he raises at a time. Rush says, “everything has an odor, even good looking women” and that his neighbors “will have to get used to it if they’re gonna eat.” Another one of the growers, Dennie Roberts, from Calhoun, Georgia, says he doesn’t mind the smell of the poultry litter because it “smells like money” to him.

The growers also expressed interest in technology on display at the IPE that turns poultry litter into compost you can sell. One of the growers said he discussed the technology with people at the expo who said they were able to make more money off the litter than they did raising the chickens that produced the litter.