Kentucky Association of County Agricultural Agents

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Tour 1 – Poultry and Wood Products - Hancock and Ohio Counties

1. Hayden Farms – Poultry Education Center

Hayden Farms is a second-generation family farm based in the Daviess and Ohio counties, raising beef cattle, broiler chickens, and hay. The “Poultry Education Center” is striving to dispel the myths and negative perceptions of how poultry is produced in the U.S. With the construction of a viewing room, on one of their broiler houses – the first of its kind in the U.S. – and an education building, groups of all sizes and backgrounds can truly experience how modern poultry are raised humanely. From the viewing room, visitors can watch the birds do the four things necessary for a healthy chicken – eat, drink, rest and play. Come see how Hayden Farms is educating the general public about how our food is produced!!!

2. Domtar – Hawesville Mill

Domtar is the largest integrated manufacturer and marketer of uncoated paper in North America and one of the largest manufacturers of pulp in the world, with 29 manufacturing facilities around the world. Domtar’s integrated pulp and paper mill in Hawesville produces fine specialty paper. The Hawesville Mill is the largest employer in Hancock County with an estimated regional economic impact of $1.5 billion. A distinct focus for the mill is hardwood market pulp. During the tour, we will visit the woodyard, barge unloading, and paper manufacturing process. A distinct focus for the mill is hardwood market pulp, but you’ll see more than wood on the mill’s property. Nearly one-third of the mill’s 2000 acres is leased to farmers growing corn, hay, and wheat. We will have a discussion with one producer leasing ground, about his unique relationship with Domtar. Requirements: They will provide hard hat, gloves, safety glasses and ear plugs. No high heeled shoes or shorts are permitted. Totally enclosed flat shoes. No picture taking. We have a no ring policy while on the mill floor. 12 years of age or older.

Tour 2 – Agritourism, Fruit and Vegetable Production, Aquaponics and The Garden - Daviess County

1. Thomas Aquafarm


Eric Thomas and his dad, Rick Thomas, collaborated on the aquaculture project to raise tilapia on the family’s 34-acre farm. A father and son who share an entrepreneurial spirit are bringing a new product from their Kentucky farm to the regional marketplace. Inside the greenhouse at Thomas Aquafarms in Daviess County, water is constantly flowing through nine bright blue tanks that are shoulder height and eight feet in diameter. They are breeding tilapia in order to have a continuous supply of fish. In addition, they grow plants for sale at the farm and farmers’ market.

2. Reid’s Orchard

Operating for more than 145 years, Reid’s Orchard continues to produce quality fruit, vegetables, and bedding plants. Reid’s Orchard was one of the first participants in the development of the University of Kentucky’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program for apples. The technology was established there and is still used today. Billy Reid was also one of the first in the Commonwealth to use high-density apple production where the trees will produce 800 to 1000 bushels of apples per acre. Billy and Kathy Reid’s children have joined them on the farm by adding agritourism, high tunnel vegetable production, and bedding plant production. Today Reid’s Orchard produces strawberries, apples, peaches, blackberries, pears, cherries, and all types of vegetables for their farm market. All of their products are offered at their on-farm store, The Apple House, including homemade fudge, jams, locally harvested honey, and numerous Kentucky Proud products. The Reid family wants to continue to diversify, to grow, and to serve the community, but most importantly to pass the traditions on to the 6th generation.

3. Western Kentucky Botanical Garden

The Western Kentucky Botanical Garden is located in Owensboro. In 1993, an Extension Master Gardener class in Daviess County dreamed of creating a botanical garden. To fulfill this dream, Dr. and Mrs. William Tyler donated approximately 8.5 acres to the City of Owensboro, and the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden was born. Under the guidance of the Board of Directors and the many local horticultural professionals and enthusiasts, The Garden has become a center for the growth and display of hundreds of outstanding plant selections. The Garden contains several themed gardens including: a large collection of daylilies with an American Hemerocallis Society recognized display garden, herb garden, English cottage garden, Kentucky symbol quilt garden, Ericaceous garden, Moonlite Children’s garden, and University of Kentucky Extension Bedding Plant Trial garden to name a few. Also, The Garden incorporates many works of public art, the solar Smartflower, and other features added throughout the years. Lunch will be enjoyed at the Garden.

4. Commercial Field Production of Watermelons

About 300 acres of watermelons are grown by Cecil Farms’ in primarily Daviess County. The watermelons are marketed through their CSA, local farmers’ markets, and Melon 1. Gary Cecil has been growing vegetables since 1985. It may be too early for harvesting watermelons, but we will see the production system used to grow them in the field. Management practices will be discussed as well.

Tour 3 – Barges, Crop Supplies, Farm Businesses - Daviess County

1. Yager Marine

Access to river transportation is a game changer for agriculture in Western Kentucky and an economic develop windfall for the local community. Yager Marine builds barges of all types – crane barges, dock barges, deck barges, and dry docks. Their experienced designers and craftsmen work in a modern shipbuilding facility on the Ohio River in Owensboro and have constructed scores of barges for more than 40 organizations. Their expertise in building barges carries over to their work in barge repair. Customers choose Yager Marine to get damaged barges back in service. They frequently launch new construction and dry dock repaired units. There is a possibility of viewing a launch during the visit. Closed-toe shoes required.

2. CHS Inc.

Together, CHS wholesale and retail businesses provide crop inputs to thousands of farmers and millions of acres across North America to nourish the world. CHS is a leading wholesale distributor of crop nutrients and has relationships with suppliers in more than 20 countries to maintain a stable fertilizer supply. CHS Crop Nutrients wholesale business annually distributes millions of tons of crop nutrients to member cooperatives and agriculture retailers. One of their state of the art facilities, located on the Ohio River east of Owensboro offloads hundreds of tons of dry fertilizer each week. Product leaves on trucks bound for retailers and farms across Kentucky and southern Indiana. CHS is a player in the global fertilizer business we’ll tour their facility and meet their people.

3. Gilles Family Farm/Hill View Farm Meats

We’ll meet the Gilles family, a multi-generation farm business located adjacent to the western edge of Owensboro. Grain, tobacco, and a registered Angus reproduction stock business are the primary enterprises, but their business roots run deep. Gilles Tractor Company was the Owensboro John Deere product dealer until the early ’90s. Now, returning to the family legacy of public business, Jim Gilles III is using the family brand, Hill View Farms Meats, to capitalize on a paradigm shift in consumer food trends by retailing beef from a newly renovated store located on their farm. The Gilles family is known for quality beef. Jim III has forged relationships with their customers of breeding stock cattle by purchasing and finishing their weaned calves. This provides quality and product identity to his retail beef customers. These shoppers pay a substantial premium for quality and comfort knowing the story of the food they put on their table. Lunch will be enjoyed at this stop.

4. Knott Farms Inc.

We’ll meet the Knott family, brothers who have relentlessly worked to grow their business in an effort to provide an opportunity for five farming partner families. Over the course of 28 years, they built upon a farm business initiated by their father, allowing them to end off-farm employment careers, seize opportunities and blaze trails when none existed. They currently farm over 3,000 acres of non-irrigated grain, 1,000 acres of irrigated grain and 60 acres of tobacco in western Daviess and Mclean Counties and Spenser County Indiana. They own and operate 35 commercial poultry broiler houses and recently invested in state of the art equipment to commercially process kiln-dried sawdust into compressed fire logs. They accomplished the highest yield measured in both the 2017 and 2018 Extension Corn Yield contests. As members of Kentucky Farm Business Analysis, they are astute business people, educated agronomists, and leaders in the community.

Tour 4 – Poultry, Agritourism, Field Crop Research – McLean, Webster and Henderson Counties

1. Tyson’s Hatchery

The Tyson Hatchery brings in 1.5 million eggs per week, incubates them for 21 days and sends out 1.3 million birds every week. After fertilized eggs are incubated (kept warm and rotated), chicks are hatched, and within hours they are transported to the farm. Chicks are delivered in crates – 100 to a crate, around 25,000 chicks per barn. All birds on any given chicken farm will be the same age, come from the same hatchery, and stay together for the remainder of their lives. This is to ensure traceability (in case there is an issue), and for biosecurity reasons (to reduce the threat of illness or bacteria). The chicks go all-in to the farm at the same time, and the birds go all-out to processing at the same time

2. Deer Creek Lodge

Deer Creek Lodge is located in Webster County, Kentucky. They offer legendary hunting and fishing with outstanding service. The 10,000 square foot Wingshooting lodge, at Deer Creek Lodge, was built in 2006 and is nestled atop a scenic wooded hill. Hunters relax in comfort and rustic elegance and enjoy gourmet cuisine and spectacular views. The lodge has all the technology and conveniences a hunter wants. To learn more about their hunting packages and more, visit their website. https://www.deercreeklodge.net/

3. Beck’s Hybrids

Beck’s Hybrids Henderson, KY facility tour will offer a glimpse into the nation’s largest family-owned seed company. The tour will consist of the company’s history and present-day accomplishments within the seed industry, as well as, a visit to their Practical Farm Research (PFR) consisting of 160 acres of corn, soybean, wheat, and grain sorghum research plots. Beck’s PFR program focuses on helping farmers succeed by researching agronomic practices and products that influence a farmer’s daily operation. Come join us for an exciting and knowledge packed tour.