Mark Fisher is part of a multi-generation farm that’s older than the state of Oklahoma.
Fisher Farms was founded in 1905 when Mark’s great-grandparents began raising cattle and produce outside of Slick, a small town near Bristow.
The family has lived and expanded there since, and now Mark and his brother David run the operation, which has changed shape since the early 1900s.
Their father, Ernest, set the farm on its current path — eggs.
“They had done cattle and farming, but Dad wanted to do something different,” Mark said. “So he started doing eggs in the 1960s.”
Now, Ernest has stepped back from the main operations of the farm, but is still there every day, making sure everything is running smoothly, Mark said.
“He takes care of making the feed — formulas and rationing,” he said.
Fisher Farms makes their own feed and also sells it to area farmers.
“Lots of farmers and ranchers buy feed from us,” Mark said. “We grow some of the ingredients, like corn, but we don’t have enough land to grow everything, so we buy the majority of what we use.”
Fisher Farms houses about 24,000 chickens, some in battery cages, but mostly cage-free.
Mark has been working the egg business since he was a child.
“When I was young, all our chickens were just loose in the (chicken) houses,” he said. “Back then everyone thought it was good for them to be in cages, but ours weren’t. We did everything by hand then — we’d go in and pick up the eggs by hand.”
Fisher Farms eventually followed the popular trend and put the chickens in cages, but about 10 years ago took most of the cages out and went back to cage-free, Mark said.
“We have a house that does have cages, but we sell the cage-free to 1907 Meat Co. and a lot of other places that want cage-free eggs,” he said.
1907 Meat Co. purchases 120 dozen eggs each week for retail and kitchen use from Fisher Farms.
Mark estimates the caged and cage-free chickens lay about 18,000 eggs every day.
Both groups of chickens live on a ration of locally produced, vegetarian grain feed, and none receive antibiotics or steroids of any kind.
“We don’t use meat products in the feed,” Mark said. “That stuff is nasty and we eat the eggs, and we don’t want to eat that!”
The cage-free chickens have plenty of room to move around in the chicken houses, and lay eggs in little house-nests and the eggs roll out to a conveyor belt, where they are moved to the egg grader, washed, checked for cracks or imperfections and then sorted by size and weight.
Although farming is a less-pursued way of life these days, Fisher Farms will stay in the family, Mark said; his niece, Allison, and her husband plan to take over the farm some day.
“She has always loved the farm and she wants to stay here,” he said. “There’s something about the farm. You don’t really ever get it out of your system.”