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Saturday, April 1st, 2017

More 'kluck' for the buck

Youth builds nest egg by operating Kyle's Kluckers

By Sydney Albert

Kyle Lamm puts eggs into cartons as his favorite hen, Klucker, sits beside him.. . .

MINSTER - With attending school, playing football, being tutored and running a business, 12-year-old Kyle Lamm keeps a busy schedule.
Lamm runs his own chicken operation, Kyle's Kluckers, and cares for almost 300 chickens every day - feeding them, bringing them water, cleaning their enclosures and collecting their eggs. He sells the roughly 20 dozen eggs he gets per day at Wagner's IGA grocery store.
"He has ADHD, epilepsy, and we let him do it because it teaches him to be responsible, and it can prepare him for jobs when he's older," his mother, Jamie Lamm, said.
Kyle Lamm originally wanted a dog, but when his parents said no, he asked about getting chickens instead. When the family moved to Minster years ago, Jamie Lamm said her son would show his relatives the barn out back and say he wanted to fill it with chickens.
He started with a few chicks when he was in third grade. Now he has an assortment of breeds ranging from Ameraucanas to golden comets to Rhode Island reds. Some are show birds and some are egg layers.
"He used to have a few meat birds, but they take a lot more to raise, and I think it was a bit too much for him," said Craig Lamm, Kyle's father.
Mixed in with the others is a large white hen named Klucker. She may not be the best egg layer anymore, but she's still the boy's favorite.
The chickens live inside the barn but are considered cage-free because they aren't kept inside individual cages. They are free to come in and out of their laying boxes, roam around their enclosures and get food and water as they please.
Both Kyle and Craig Lamm hope to one day have outdoor enclosures, but that's a project for the future, they said. They're also trying to prevent avian influenza from infecting the flock as migratory birds start to return to the area.
"It would be nice to let them outside someday, though," Craig Lamm said, smiling. "Let them get some natural vitamin K."
The elder Lamm helps his son when he's around, but as a tractor-trailer driver for Crown Equipment Corp., he isn't always able to be there. Though he grew up on a farm himself, he never dealt much with chickens.
It was a learning experience for both father and son, Jamie Lamm said.
Kyle's younger sister, Abby, also helps watch the chickens when her brother has other activities. Though he gets support and helping hands from his family, Kyle does most of the work.
"People question if he does it all himself, and he really does," Jamie Lamm said, laughing as she looked around the barn. "Sometimes he hides from me out here."
She recalled that her son once came to her about a broken water main in the barn, but she had been about to head to a Girl Scouts meeting. Kyle ended up being the one who patched it up.
"This is his zone," Craig Lamm said. "People have asked what's stopping him from selling at more stores, and ... nothing, really."
Jamie Lamm said they started their arrangement with Wagner's after Wally Wagner Jr. bought some of the family's pigs at the fair. Though originally they considered waiting until Kyle was older to get into such an agreement, they decided to contact Wagner again and take the plunge.
While most of the money he makes goes toward his college fund, he's also learning how to handle spending money. He pays his tutor $20 a week, his sister $10 a week for her help, and keeps $10 a week for himself.
Lamm said his friends at school think it's cool that he has so many chickens.
When asked if he wanted to be a farmer when he grew up, he smiled widely and nodded.
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