Layton and Willey have four chicken houses on their 44-acre farm near Milford, with a capacity of 134,400 birds per flock. The two men have been childhood friends since the second grade, and own a residential home construction business building about 35 homes a year in Kent and Sussex Counties.
The business partners decided to branch out into the chicken business about five years ago, Layton said, to help diversify their business to protect them from hard times in the housing industry. They built their first two houses in 2013, followed quickly by their next two houses, all on the farm where Willey lives.
They have installed a manure shed and composter, a storm water pond, and are getting ready to plant a buffer of trees around the buildings. They keep the farm clean, neat and tidy, and are a model for other poultry farms in the region.
“This is the gold standard of poultry farms,” said Rory DeWeese, senior director of live operations for Allen Harim. “They have worked hard to ensure that their property looks great and we are so appreciative of their efforts.”
Awards to Layton and Willey and three runners-up were presented Monday during Delaware Ag Week by Delaware Nutrient Management Commission Chairman Bill Vanderwende and Nutrient Management Program Administrator Chris Brosch. Also on hand was Delaware Ag Secretary Ed Kee.
The top award comes with $1,000 cash prize, a lane sign to display on the farm, and a plaque.
"These farmers are great examples of how Delaware's farm families are wonderful stewards of our land and water," Brosch said. "It is due to their hard work and dedication that has made Delaware a leader in nutrient management efforts."
Back-to-back recognition for Allen Harim growers
This is the second year in a row that an Allen Harim grower has been selected for this top award. Last year, Chris Lesniowski was honored for his 150-acre farm near Marydel.