Hatching a business from scratch

By Michael Kinney

TAHLEQUAH, OKLA. – Kimberley Davis wasn’t particularly fond of chickens. A more apt description would be to say she didn’t think too much about them at all before 2020. 

The next thing Kimberley knew, a global pandemic had hit and she soon found her entire world revolving around raising and caring for an animal she rarely gave a single thought to just months before. 

“I’m so surprised with how quickly you can fall in love with something you just think you are making a buck off of,” Kimberley said. “I’m very passionate about it. Everything in my life, other than my husband and my children, actually revolves around the love and care I have for the chickens.” 

Kimberley is the owner and operator of Davis Freedom Farm (davisfreedomfarm.com) in Tahlequah, Okla. It’s slogan is “Make Hatching Great Again.” 

She, with the help of her three children, raises free-range chickens and specializes in selling organic eggs. 

Kimberley chose an interest to start a business she had no history or experience in. In May 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was ramping up and she was learning the ropes of being a chicken farmer. 

“It took a lot of failures,” Kimberley said. “A lot of heartbreak. But through all of it, we are definitely making progress.” 

However, Kimberley admits, it wasn’t exactly her idea to take on such a venture. 

“It was actually my mother’s idea,” Kimberley said. “She is elderly and she wanted something to do to pass the time while she was living with me while she was ill. Then she got too ill to physically take care of them and I ended up being the caregiver of her chickens. I was not happy about it at first.” 

Kimberley was a stay-at-home mother in the pre-pandemic years. Raising three children with her husband and running a household was enough to fill up her days. 

Then all of a sudden, Kimberley had to take on the responsibility of caring for the six chickens her mother brought home. 

“It was chaotic to me,” Kimberley said. “I didn’t have the time for it. I wasn’t really interested in chickens at all. Over time, I just actually fell in love with them and I realized how great they were. I’m definitely a chicken lover now when I did not have the intention of actually ever loving a chicken.” 

It didn’t take long for Kimberley to turn from being an apathetic caregiver to noticing she was learning more and more about her new tenants. 

“After a few weeks of sitting and making sure they are eating the right foods, because I didn’t know what I was doing, I just needed to learn from the chickens to make sure they liked the food that I got and they’re OK with the water set up,” Kimberley said. “After a couple of hours each day for a few weeks of sitting outside and actually watching them, I realized that chickens have characteristics and attitudes and different mind sets from each other. They are very unique; they are not just chickens.” 

Kimberley was first spurred on to become an entrepreneur by the idea of being what economists are now calling a disruptor. That is basically someone who isn’t happy with the current system and tries to change it for the better. 

What Kimberley had noticed was the price of eggs at grocery stores was skyrocketing, which was causing problems for those in her community. The average price for one dozen eggs was $1.82 in October 2021 according to U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2019, the price was around $1.40. 

“It became like a hobby at first. Then I just decided everyone is struggling during this time, so why don’t I start a little tiny business and give people affordable hatching eggs,” Kimberley said. “That way we won’t have to rely on outside sources during COVID when we have to stay home.” 

Kimberley said it began by her checking out community pages on social media. There, she saw there was a need. 

“I started seeing a lot of people in the community asking if anyone had any eggs for sale, but they couldn’t a whole bunch. So they had like $5 to work with and asked how many eggs they can get with that?” Kimberley said. “I saw enough of the community posts on Facebook that I thought why don’t we just go ahead and give these guys 30 eggs for $5? Just helping people who could not afford the basic necessities.” 

From there, the Davis Freedom Farm was born. The six original chickens grew to 150 by September 2021. 

After selling 70 of her chickens, the Davis Freedom Farm is currently down to 80 and plans to keep it at that size and focus just on producing quality products. 

“I like to focus on the science part of breeding,” Kimberley said. “Making sure that the community does somewhat get disease-resistant animals. Because we have a lot of very common diseases that can take out entire flocks. If I see one chicken has an illness, I separate that chicken. And if it does survive, we breed it for the resistance for that disease. “ 

The chickens include Joe and Spitz, which produce pure Spitzhauben eggs. Kimberley also has a white rooster that carries the laced gene and seven Polish girls of different colors. 

This allows them to produce a variety of different colored eggs. 

“We cross a lot of different ones for productivity on their eggs,” Kimberley said. “Or we have certain chickens we can cross to make certain color eggs. We’ve got blue, we’ve got green, dark brown, white.” 

Kimberley pointed out the price for such exotic eggs would normally be something those in her community could never afford. 

However, she has chosen to follow the same path as one of the most successful big-box retailers in the world when it comes to pricing. 

“It’s really high in the market. People will pay up to $200 for a dozen blue (hatching) eggs or green eggs. So people really want that and it’s expensive,” Kimberley said. “So I’m doing the Walmart version of it. I am not charging more than $80 for that. So we take your designer chickens, but with the Walmart price.” 

While the Davis Freedom Farm has expanded its services and products, Kimberley hasn’t seen the market share growth that she has hoped for yet. Despite using social media, the word hasn’t filtered beyond her community. 

“I’m still building up traction because we do live in the country. Plenty of people do sell their eggs, so it’s very competitive,” Kimberley said. “So I don’t have a lot of feedback on what the community thinks other than the select few people who actually know what I’m trying to do. Not everyone has Facebook here where I live. So, it’s just whoever can spread the word.” 

It’s only been a year and a half since Kimberley first began her chicken farm, but she said she is ready for even more. But she said it’s not something she wants for herself. 

“I just want people to see that I am not the typical chicken breeder that oversells eggs. We take very good care of our chickens,” Kimberley said. “There is a lot of love that goes into breeding them, raising them and getting their eggs sold to the people who can actually afford them. Get them the type of chicken they want, the most beautiful chicken that they feel that they need, the color egg they want. I’m not charging an arm and a leg. I just want to be able to share with people that you can have everything you see at a decent price.”

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