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Meet-a-Farmer: Ikaika Johnson

From: Anahola, a small town in northeastern Kauai, Hawaii

Favorite animal on the farm: The bull because of their raw power

Hobbies: Compound bow shooting, surfing and learning about crypto currency

On any normal day, Ikaika can be found grazing animals on the farm. For more than 3 years now, he has been honing his grazing skills and is instrumental in all aspects of keeping Deck livestock. He works with beef, lamb, pigs and especially poultry now that he is our poultry manager.  

In addition to strategizing the poultry grazing plan, he also must work out the logistics of brooder flow. The brooder barns are where young layers, roasters (meat birds) and turkey poults (baby turkeys) are initially incubated before being integrated into the farm. Ikaika also plans the harvest of roasters and turkeys as well as supervises the crew for feeding and egg collection. 

Oh, and did we mention he is a master of spreadsheets? We carefully monitor our enterprises for humane practices, and environmental and financial sustainability, and Ikaika helps with that, too! 

Ikaika previously worked in the football program for the UO Athletics Department but long hours indoors made him question how stress and fluorescent lighting affected his health.

“I was concerned with my health and wellbeing at that time and wanted to know about where the food came from, how it's grown. One of the things I believe is that you are what you eat and what it eats,” he said.

So when he saw a Deck Family Farm ad for a farm hand on Craigslist in 2020, Ikaika headed out to Junction City and a whole new life. 

“I’m interested in farming for a couple of reasons. One was to get involved with a job that was a lot more active and outdoors,” he said. “But the biggest reason was to understand and learn the whole food production cycle from start to finish, specifically with livestock. From birthing, raising them and the finishing and processing.”

And he has definitely seen improvement to his health. “Physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally; all those four pillars by just being outdoors and getting to eat quality foods with not a lot of harsh inputs into those foods. That’s helped me a lot,” he said.

There is a lot going on in poultry currently, particularly to prepare the newest laying flock for life on pasture. “We just finished getting the new flock perching. We installed perches in the brooder barn that mirror the perches in their trailer. A crew went out each night and manually taught the birds to perch. After many hours, it was a success. They moved in much more smoothly!”

Next up he is preparing to raise the roaster birds. “The chicks are going to be coming in soon so we are prepping the brooder barns and prepping the 10x10s in which we raise the flock when they are ready for pasture,” he said.

Do you surf in Oregon? “I surf when I’m home! I went out here a while back, with a wet suit, and it was still too cold for me,” he laughed!

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