Black Dirt Farm

Black Dirt Farm

Hen Wrangler Intern

Internship Description


Farm Description

Black Dirt Farm is an integrated and diversified agroecological family farm in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom designed to mimic the carbon cycle. We operate a year-round food scrap collection route to collect organic discards from our community. We strive to put this “waste” to as much positive use as we can.  We blend the food scraps into a compost mix which provides forage for our laying hens, then make compost and worm castings with the excess food and manure, and finally, we sell and use the resulting products to nourish our soils and crops.  Our farm is firmly based in regenerative agricultural practices and the creation of ecologically-thriving and socially-just food systems. As of 2021, we diverted 13.6 million pounds of food scraps from the landfill, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of not burning 603,598 gallons of gasoline and capturing enough nitrogen to fertilize over 1,000 acres of mixed vegetable crops.

Being a part of Black Dirt Farm means working in an environment that is both caring and efficient. The farm requires creative and driven individuals who can work as part of a dynamic and, often, fast-paced team but also be individually responsible for managing their own tasks with professionalism and quality.

We believe the farm thrives most when we have a diversity of people and experiences that inform what we do and how we do it.  At Black Dirt Farm a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace is one where all Crew Members, volunteers, and customers—of all genders and gender identities, races, ethnicities, national origins, ages, sexual orientations, educations, or abilities—feel valued and respected. We respect and value diverse life experiences and heritages, and work to ensure that all voices are valued and heard. To foster a healthy farm community, Black Dirt Farm does not tolerate marginalizing behavior, language, or harassment. We’re committed to a thriving work environment that yields exceptional products and collective growth.

Laying Hen Operation Description

At Black Dirt Farm we integrate our laying flock into the farm’s carbon cycle.  We carry a flock of 1200 birds through the winter and overlap two flocks from May-October when we bring in young birds.  Young birds occupy a stationary greenhouse with ‘spoked’ pastures, while the older birds are moved out of the greenhouse to mobile coops and are rotated on pasture through the summer.  This flock grows progressively smaller through the summer as we cull hens on a monthly basis.

The hens forage on a food scrap-based compost blend as part of their overall ration, year round.  During the grazing season all birds are intensively grazed free-range.  Hens’ are also fed non-GMO grain.  We respect our hens and seek to provide them with the greatest amount of autonomy possible, by focusing on creating opportunities for choice – generally in terms of food sources and environments to choose from.   Our hens are not certified organic because of the food scraps we use in their forage, however feed aside we generally follow organic practices, and otherwise utilize Human Standards as a reference point for our housing and pasture sizing and designs.  Culled laying hens are processed and sold as Stewing Hens.


Job Description

The Hen Wrangler Intern is a hands-on learning experience meant to help you grow in your farm career. After training, you will be responsible for our mobile flock. This 900 hen flock will be one 16 months old. With this flock we move paddocks weekly. You will be part of putting up/ planning fencing for these paddocks. Along with farm chores, you will have the opportunity to sit in on manager meetings. This is a physical job often requiring the lifting and movement of substantial weight.  Each enterprise on the farm is small and therefore requires the operator be committed to working at a good pace, utilizing existing organizational and operational systems, and focusing on efficiency.


Reports to: Chicken Wrangler

Hours per Week:  40 hrs

June-August (13 weeks)

Tasks/ Sphere of Responsibility *

Laying Hens

Daily Chores (feeding, watering, bedding, transporting and sorting eggs )
Egg washing, packing and order fulfillment
Monthly coop clean out
Managing mobile coops on your own, flock of 800 hens.
Repeating daily tasks, without direction or instruction
Ability to work on your own and manage your own time
On-going professional development and systems improvement
Time tracking and task refinement

*Note: In addition to lifting considerable weight during many of these tasks, this position requires handling fine sawdust, manures, active compost, and other materials that can be irritating to breath for some people.  Protective respirators are available for use, however for individuals with sensitive respiratory systems or compromised immune systems, this may not be adequate for your well-being.

Job Requirements

Hardworking and focused
Ability to manage your time, working alone in some cases(great time for podcasts and music)
Ability to follow operational procedures
Repeating daily tasks without being told
Experience working with livestock or poultry
A desire to master tasks and make excellent products
Excellent communication skills and emotional maturity
Superior time and task management skills
Experience in a team environment and comfortability with providing and receiving constructive feedback.
Appreciation of hard work and how farm’s work
Comfortability with busy work environments and following schedules and standard operating procedures
Appreciation for the importance of efficiency in operating a small-scale farm and the necessary requirements to keep tasks as contained as possible.

Educational Opportunities

Knowledge and skill development in commercial laying hens, including:
Daily chores and commercial hen operations
Hen well-being and health
Poultry pasturing and pasture management
Weekly farm walk-arounds or meetings with Tom, the farm owner, to learn more about the farm, its enterprises, small farm/ enterprise management, poultry, food scrap collection, composting, worm casting production and other farm endeavors.
Hay making


8am-4pm Monday-Friday, one evening per month to crate birds for culling or moving

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