Lewis Family Farm was established in 1890 and continues to be a productive enterprise
Andrew and Amanda Lewis, and their children Branden (12) and Keelie (10) started Lewis Family Farm in 2014.
Andrew and Amanda purchased the 60-acre farm in Polk County from Amanda’s grandmother Beulah Mae Redd. The property is a Missouri Century Farm established in 1890, which Beulah and her husband Wilbur purchased from a cousin.
When Amanda and Andrew took over the farm, they completely remodeled the interior of the original house. The family lived there for four years while building a new home with plenty of space to accommodate the active family.
Andrew grew up on a dairy farm and attended to Missouri State University and North Dakota State earning degrees in agribusiness and applied economics. He works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a risk management specialist for crop insurance in addition to farming.
Amanda attended College of the Ozarks and had a successful career in cosmetology. She is a stay-at-home mom and homeschools Branden and Keelie, and helps take care of the farm.
Keelie intends to become a veterinarian and really enjoys working with the chickens.
“Our Great Pyrenees, Norman, is really part of the family. He protects the chickens and cattle and takes care of us, too,” Keelie said.
Branden enjoys the farm but wants to become either a designer or builder.
The family farm is home to a multispecies livestock operation with cattle and poultry, as well as swine.
They have a commercial herd of about a dozen black baldie cows, which are bred to a Hereford bull, with plans to grow in the future.
“We are keeping the best heifers to build the herd up to 30 cows and sell the others as feeder calves,” Andrew said. “Amanda’s uncle runs some of his cattle with ours and he does the haying.”
The swine operation includes Hampshire/Berkshire cross hogs for meat, but they are only on the farm in the cooler months.
“Amanda only lets me do so in the winter because she doesn’t care for the smell,” Andrew said.
Amanda is the chicken specialist, and the poultry side of the farm is the largest piece of Lewis Family Farm.
“We have been buying day-old chicks from Cackle Hatchery in Lebanon, Mo., so that we have a wide variety of breeds to sell as pullets” Amanda said. “Right now, we have about 25 different breeds available. I have small flocks of several different breeds that I specialize in – Light Brahmas, French Black Copper Marans, Blue Laced Red Wyandottes and Standard Blue Cochins. These breeds are producing eggs, which I plan to incubate to raise the chicks for sale. I have found that keeping the fertile eggs for no longer than 10 days before starting the incubation process works the best. I keep good records, but have learned to identify the eggs by color and size which helps me identify the most productive hens. I hope to add Splashed Laced Wyandottes, Blue Copper Marans, and Cream Legbars this spring.”
Once the chicks hatch, they are transferred to spacious rearing areas in one of the outbuildings. Each rearing area is insulated, has several heat lamps so the chicks can be comfortable, and is secure from predators, particularly raccoons. When the chicks are fully feathered they are moved to the outdoor pens and are then available to the public for sale.
According to Andrew, Lewis Family Farms sold $17,000 worth of pullets in 11 months. By developing the capacity to produce and hatch eggs, their costs will decline and the profit margin will increase.
According to Amanda, respiratory problems are the greatest threat to the birds.
“We were away for a week this spring when the weather was so damp,” Amanda said. “When we came back, quite a few chickens were showing symptoms of respiratory issues. We isolated them and I started calling veterinarians to get the antibiotics necessary to save the sick ones and prevent the rest from coming down with the disease. I finally found Wooderson Veterinary Clinic in Bolivar. They carry everything necessary for flock health.”
“We use medicated feed, and add apple cider vinegar and oregano oil to the water as preventive measures,” Amanda continued. “I also disinfect with a product called Nixall that is manufactured in Nixa, Mo. So far these measures have kept all the chickens healthy.”
The chickens are sold at many swap meets and by appointment at the farm. Amanda maintains a Facebook page and gets many word-of-mouth customers.
Prices range from $5 for young pullets up to $15 for rare breeds that are almost ready to lay. Some of the most popular rare breeds are Jubilee and Lavender Orpingtons, Copper and French Blue Marans, and Blue Laced Red Wyandottes. They also have the traditional Buff Orpingtons, Welsummers, Barred Rocks, Rhode Island Reds and many other breeds.
The Lewis family is committed to building their farming operations and maintaining solid family values.