Cooks Venture raises $12m in effort to redesign chicken feed, production

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

© Cooks Venture
© Cooks Venture

Related tags Poultry Poultry farming regenerative agriculture

To disrupt US production, Cooks Venture is looking to apply regenerative agricultural practices to poultry feed and breeding.

It has just announced that it has secured financing to the tune of $12m from New York based asset managers, AMERRA Capital Management, LLC to carry out its work on a farming method that builds organic matter in the soil with the goal of sequestering more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases.

Matthew Wadiak, founder and CEO of Cooks Venture, told us:

“Secured financing is something that provides security for the company. It will allow us the flexibility to invest even more so into our regenerative agriculture program by creating the facilities to provide resources for our farmer partners, conduct soil testing, run our business, improve capital operations and how we process our chickens.”

AMERRA is a known investor in the agricultural space, he said. “They are strategically aligned with our mission.”

© Cooks Venture

Cooks Venture launched in spring 2019, but over the past 10 years its team has been refining crop and breeding techniques to support slow-growth chickens.

The birds are raised on a single-stage feed.

“We partner with our feed mill and farmers to create more organic systems within our crop production, and by organic systems, I mean environmentally sound systems that preserve and sequester biological matter and carbon,” ​he said. “We do that through adding crop rotations, experimenting with ingredients like clover, focusing on the tenants of better-integrated pest management and also providing more biodiversity to farms that requires a great deal of research and partnerships with farmers.”

The chickens are supplied to customers, restaurants, and food retailers in Northern California through a deal with Golden Gate Meat Company.

The newly generated funds will help Cooks Venture expand its 800-acre farm and continue work renovating 57 poultry houses, said Wadiak. The company also recently completed a renovation of its poultry processing facility.

“The short-term goals are to continue to expand the poultry facilities and grow our chicken line and continue our research. You have to pair that up with animal feed trials that are sensible and that are effective from a nutrient standpoint but that are also restorative from an ecological standpoint.”

The company is also working to develop the “grain feed economy for specific use”​ or specialty feed grains as the infrastructure needed to process and store those types of ingredients is not always available, he said.

Nutrition, crop production research

The company is focused on finding alternatives to monoculture and the use of synthetic inputs in crop cultivation, he said. 

“Our economy is highly dependent upon us replenishing our soil and making sure that we are good stewards of it.

"What your chicken eats actually affects more land than anything else in America. We’re talking about how to regenerate American’s farmland and provide better opportunities for farmers."

The funds will also support the establishment of feed partnerships and research to better understand the nutrition needs of the slow-growth birds the company developed and raises, he said.

The company is currently in the process of establishing a baseline of soil health and will continue to determine how altering production practices will beneficially impact cropland, Wadiak said.

“The first thing that we’ll be doing will be continuing on with the full analysis of the mill and partner farms and then making small changes in the first years and measuring those changes and how they impact the soil year-over-year,” ​he said. “Over the coming years, we’ll be continuously measuring and expanding and adding to those rotations and those systems to get much better about how we’re able to act in a restorative way toward our soil to be able to build better feed that is use specific.”

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