Our New Local, Non-GMO Chicken Feed

My maternal Grandmother supplied chicken eggs and dairy to her small rural community of approx 1000 people for many years, and when visiting her as a child in West Texas I learned about candling and sorting eggs to get ready for sale. I know that is part of my love for and fascination with Urban chickens, and why we sell chicken feed and supplements at The Big Bad Woof.

We have been supporting local chickens and their guardians for a number of years, and at the beginning this was easy, but when the Pandemic hit a lot changed, including our challenges with getting the feed to the store at a reasonable freight. This involved negotiating with common carriers to have them deliver to another local pet supply in Northern Virginia (big shout out to Felix and Oscar)! Even with the machinations of having it delivered there we would then have to hire a truck to go and move it. Needless to say this was frustrating for us and for our customers, who we would delay with stocking issues while we worked out the logisitics.

It was this frustration and a chance meeting with a friend who owns a Maryland farm and whose son raised champion poultry that led us to Hamstead Harvest. I snapped an image while at her barn and contacted Joshua Ernst who is the farmer behind this brand in Northern Maryland.

About their history: “In 1943, Fred C. and Ora Ann Ernst bought the farm. It was one mile east of the Ernst family’s original farm. Fred was a livestock and crop farmer. He managed and passed on the farm to his son, F. Carlton Ernst in the early 1970’s. While teaching as professor in animal science, he expanded in the sheep, hog, and crop business with his son Steven F. Ernst. Steve focused on increasing labor efficiency and building infrastructure while working away full time as crop and feed nutritionist. Today he runs the farm with his son, Joshua C. Ernst. Carlton and Steve started selling shelled corn to deer hunters in early 2000’s. In 2014, Josh expanded by selling Non-GMO feeds. In 2018, Josh expanded further with the Homestead Harvest Brand.”

We will be adding Homestead Harvest chicken feed in Sept/Oct, 2023 as our new in-house brand and are very pleased to have another local supplier join the Woof!

  • In 2010 they were the first Certified Agricultural Conservation Steward in the state of Maryland.
  • In 2010 the Washington County Soil Conservation District recognized Ernst Grain & Feed as a “Sustaining Conservation Farmer”
  • In 2011 they were awarded the “Exellence in Agricultural Stewardship Award” by Maryland Governor Martin O’Mally.
  • In 2017 they were named the Washington County Farm of the Year
  • In 2019 they were featured in the Lancaster Farmer.