Pastured Poultry: An HI Case Study Booklet

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Pastured Poultry: An HI Case Study Booklet

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Pastured Poultry: An HI Case Study Booklet

  1. 1. A HEIFER PROJECT INTERNATIONAL CASE STUDY BOOKLETThis study is sponsored by Southern Region USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research &Education (SARE) and is a Heifer Project International case study booklet. This study iscompiled and distributed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT).
  2. 2. PASTURED POULTRY A HEIFER PROJECT INTERNATIONAL CASE STUDY BOOKLETThis booklet was compiled by Anne Fanatico of the National Center for Appropriate Technology(NCAT) as a guide and summary of the “Integrating Pastured Poultry into the Farming Systems ofLimited Resource Farmers” project. The project was conducted from 1996-1999 by NCAT and HeiferProject International (HPI). It was funded by Grant #LS96-76 from the USDA’s Southern RegionSustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program.HPI is a private nonprofit corporation dedicated to community development through sustainablelivestock production. The headquarters is located in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA.NCAT is a nonprofit organization with offices in Butte, Montana and Fayetteville, Arkansas, USAwhich manages a host of public programs dealing with sustainable agriculture, along with energyconservation, low-income energy and housing issues, and sustainable community development.NCAT’s role through its projects is to improve the economic well-being and quality of life of urbanand rural residents, all the while working to improve the environment and conserve America’s natu-ral resources.For further information, please contact: National Center for Appropriate TechnologyNational Center for Appropriate Technology Heifer Project InternationalP. O. Box 3657 P. O. Box 8058Fayetteville, AR 72702 Little Rock, AR 72203Telephone 501-442-9824 Telephone: 1-800-422-0474fax: 501-442-9842 email: info@heifer.orghttp://www.ncat.org http://www.heifer.orgPAGE 2 PASTURED POULTRY
  3. 3. FOREWORD & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSThis booklet summarizes the experiences of 35 Southern farm families who, from 1996-1999,participated in a project titled “Integrating Pastured Poultry into the Farming Systems of LimitedResource Farmers.”The experience proved favorable for 27 of the project families who continue to raise rangepoultry for home-use and for sale to growing customer bases. W e are thankful to many people who assisted in compil- ing this booklet. Especially helpful were the farmer grant- ees who took special care to keep close records of their enterprises and share that information for the benefit of potential producers.We hope this booklet will prove Other people, organizations and agencies who made spe-useful as a decision-making guide cial contributions to the project are the National Center forfor other farmers interested in Agricultural Law Research and Information; Extensionadding diversity and improving agents and staff at Tuskegee University, Southern Univer-profits in their own agricultural sity, Kentucky State University, South Carolina State Uni-enterprises through pastured poultry versity, Florida A&M University and Fort Valley State Uni-production. versity; members of the American Pastured Poultry Pro- ducers Association; and the Joel Salatin family of Swoope, VA. We thank those individuals who were so generous in shar- ing photographs and slides they snapped during field days, trainings and activities on their farms. Their work helps greatly to tell the pastured poultry story and appears throughout this booklet. We are also very appreciative of the four farm families in the “Featured Farmers” chapter of this booklet. We thank them for sharing both the trials and the triumphs they ex- perienced while learning the techniques of raising, pro- cessing and marketing poultry on-farm as a way to supple- ment their income. • ANNE FANATICO, PROGRAM SPECIALIST, NATIONAL CENTER FOR APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY • SKIP POLSON, PROGRAM CONSULTANT, HEIFER PROJECT INTERNATIONALPASTURED POULTRY PAGE 3
  4. 4. TABLE OF CONTENTSFOREWORD & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ....................................................................................... 3“PASTURED POULTRY IS A NICHE MARKET YOU CAN TAP” .......................................................... 5ADVANTAGES OF A PASTURED POULTRY SYSTEM ........................................................................ 6MAJOR ACTIVITIES OF THE PROJECT ........................................................................................... 7FUTURE & COLLABORATIVE WORK ............................................................................................ 8FEATURED FARMERSLAURA & RALPH ROGERS -- WOODBINE, KY .......................................................................... 9ALVIN & ROSA SHAREEF -- NEW MEDINAH, MS .................................................................. 11BEN GAMBLE -- FLATWOOD, AL ........................................................................................... 14PLEN YEP -- INMAN, SC ........................................................................................................ 16ROUND-UPSSUMMARIZING THE EXPERIENCES OF 19 POULTRY PRODUCERS IN THE SOUTH ............................ 18PEN CONSTRUCTION .............................................................................................................. 18BROODING SET-UPS ................................................................................................................ 19WEATHER ISSUES ................................................................................................................... 19PASTURE MANAGEMENT ......................................................................................................... 20FEEDING ................................................................................................................................ 20MORTALITY ........................................................................................................................... 21PROCESSING ........................................................................................................................... 22MARKETING .......................................................................................................................... 24LABOR & EARNINGS .............................................................................................................. 25QUALITY OF LIFE .................................................................................................................... 26FOLLOW-UP .......................................................................................................................... 27APPENDICESAPPENDIX 1 - ESTIMATED INCOME/EXPENSE ANALYSIS PER BATCH OF 100 BROILERS ............ 28APPENDIX 2 - AVERAGE PRODUCTION FIGURES ...................................................................... 29APPENDIX 3 - SUMMARY OF 1996 PRODUCTION FIGURES ......................................................... 30APPENDIX 4 - SUMMARY OF 1997 PRODUCTION FIGURES ......................................................... 30APPENDIX 5 - SUMMARY OF 1998 PRODUCTION FIGURES ......................................................... 31APPENDIX 6 - RESOURCES ...................................................................................................... 32APPENDIX 7 - LIST OF PROJECT COORDINATORS ..................................................................... 33PAGE 4 PASTURED POULTRY
  5. 5. INTRODUCTION “PASTURED POULTRY IS A NICHE MARKET YOU CAN TAP” Pastured poultry is a niche market in which some consumers are willing to pay more for what many of them consider to be tastier, healthier and more humanely grown chicken. The poultry industry in the U.S. was pasture based until the 1950s when confinement housing became the norm. Small, independent producers have been replaced by highly integrated companies.IN THIS SECTION: The HPI project helped limited resource farm-• ADVANTAGES OF PASTURE SYSTEMS ers in the South boost incomes and diversify their• MAJOR ACTIVITIES OF THE PROJECT operations by growing, processing and market-• FUTURE & COLLABORATIVE WORK ing chickens on their farms. The project em- ployed the methods of Joel Salatin of Virginia, Today there are many consumers interested author of Pastured Poultry Profits: Net $25,000 inin “natural” poultry products. Consumers have 6 Months on 20 Acres.different interpretations of the term “natural” butit usually includes flocks of chickens that roamon grassy pasture and eat only non-medicatedfeeds that do not contain unappealing by-prod-ucts. Some consumers want certified organicproducts or gourmet products, believing thatpastured poultry delivers better nutrition andtaste. Some are motivated by nostalgia and look forthat Sunday fried chicken they enjoyed onGrandma’s farm. Some consumers are interestedin range poultry for welfare or aesthetic reasons,or because they think it is an environmentallysound way to produce poultry. Other distinc-tions made by consumers and retailers have todo more with processing than production. Someconsumers are attracted to the concept of on-farmprocessing, while others demand government in-spected processing. Some consumers also makemarketing distinctions. For example, they may PASTURED POULTRY:prefer to buy direct from the farmer to support • IS A SUSTAINABLE LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION SYSTEMlocal food production and strengthen rural com- THAT INTEGRATES WELL WITH OTHER FARM ENTERPRISESmunities. AND CAN HELP KEEP MORE FAMILY FARMERS ON THEIR Heifer Project International (HPI), a non-profit LAND.development corporation dedicated to commu- • HAS THE POTENTIAL TO PROVIDE JOBS IN RURALnity development through sustainable livestock AREAS AND AID IN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENTproduction, seeks ways to help farmers find prof- THROUGH ADDED INCOME AND YOUTH INVOLVEMENT.itable, low-capital production and marketing en- • FEATURES CHICKENS IN FIELD PENS MOVED DAILYterprises. In April 1996, HPI was funded by the TO FRESH PASTURE.USDA’s Agriculture Research and Education • USES NON-MEDICATED FEED.(SARE) program for the 3-year project, “Integra- • PROVIDES FOR ON-FARM SLAUGHTER.tion of Pastured Poultry Production into the • UTLIZES DIRECT MARKETING FROM THE FARM.Farming Systems of Limited Resource Farmers.”PASTURED POULTRY PAGE 5
  6. 6. ADVANTAGES OF A PASTURED POULTRY SYSTEM In the Salatin pastured poultry model, chick- try enterprises help build community. Partici-ens are raised in floorless field pens moved daily pants often teamed up with each other or otherto fresh pasture. Seventy-five to 90 broilers are pastured poultry producers in the area — shar-kept in each 10’ x 12’ x 2’ pen. ing brooding and processing facilities, market- ing together, and buying inputs together. Materials & Equipment Limited-resource farmers need value-added agricultural enterprises that will allow them to start small and gradually build an operation as needed, without incurring substantial debt. One field pen has about $100-150 worth of lumber, chicken wire, screws, and tin. Other ma- terials include waterer and feeders. Processing equipment can be expensive. There are also feed costs and the costs of buying chicks. The reason that producers are interested in range poultry production is generally eco- Mobile pens of chickens are spread out across a pasture nomic—they want to earn money. Indirect Benefits The chickens receive exercise and fresh air Profits may not be high initially. There arewhile foraging for plants and insects, and their other indirect reasons for raising pastured poul-manure adds fertility to the pasture. They are try, such as improving pasture fertility, increas-fed a supplemental feed concentrate, usually ing farm diversity, family work ethics, commu-without routine medications such as antibiotics. nity involvement and improving lifestyles.Feed costs are reduced by keeping birds on pas- Farmers may simply want to raise chickens forture. home use, family and friends. As experience and Production is usually seasonal — participants production increase, profits increase as well.order day-old chicks from early April to Octoberfrom hatcheries. Chicks are brooded and movedonto pasture at about 2- 3 weeks — when theyare feathered out and when weather permits.M OST FARMERS PRODUCING LESS THAN 1,000BIRDS PER YEAR ARE ABLE TO SELL ALL OF THEIRPRODUCT . Processing & Marketing Birds are usually slaughtered on-farm atabout 8 weeks of age and customers comedirectly to the farm to pick up their chicken.Although marketing is usually word-of-mouth,producers put significant effort into planningsales, reminding customers of pick-up dates, andhaving the birds ready on time. Although pastured poultry is a high-labor en-terprise, especially for small-scale start-ups, theparticipants and their customers were happy Farmer trainees place chickens inwith the final product and believe pastured poul- killing cones on processing day.PAGE 6 PASTURED POULTRY
  7. 7. MAJOR ACTIVITIES OF THE PROJECT Educators, including local Extension agents, were trained to provide technical support to the farm- HPI discussed the project with its affiliated ers. Materials used at the training sessions in-farmer groups and identified interested produc- cluded a May 1996 survey of 13 producers whoers. had already adopted the pastured poultry model. Training sessions Legal summary Two major 3-day training sessions were held The survey was conducted by the Nationalat the Salatin farm in Swoope, VA—in June 1996 Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)and October 1997. About 40 other hands-on which administers Appropriate Technologytraining sessions and field days, held in differ- Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA), a nationalent locations in the South, trained farmers in all sustainable agriculture information service. Theaspects of pastured poultry production. Partici- National Center for Agricultural Law Research and Information conducted a legal summary ofpants built pens, moved the pens, and butchered federal and state laws regarding on-farm process-chickens; they learned about brooding, feeding, ing of poultry in all the southern states, includ-record-keeping, food safety, and marketing. ing Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. IN THE HPI TRADITION, GRANTEE FAMILIES SIGNED A CONTRACT TO “ PASS ON THE PASTURED POULTRY GROWERS FORM GIFT” BY TRAINING ANOTHER FARMER AND APPPA RETURNING THE PRICE OF THE CHICKS TO HPI. AS PART OF THE PROJECT, THE AMERICAN PAS- TURED POULTRY PRODUCERS ASSOCIATION (APPPA) WAS FOUNDED TO HELP PRODUC- ERS AROUND THE COUNTRY NETWORK . Getting started APPPA PUBLISHES THE QUARTERLY NEWSLET- TER G RIT! FOR EXCHANGE OF IDEAS AND After training, the grantee families each re- INFORMATION — INCLUDING REVIEWS OFceived from HPI about $300 in start-up funds to LEGAL ISSUES REGARDING ON-FARM POUL-allow them to build a pen, buy 100 chicks, and a TRY PROCESSING, INFORMATION ONfeeder and waterer. HPI provided small-scale CHICKEN FEED, RATIONS, NEW AND USEDprocessing equipment. PROCESSING EQUIPMENT, MARKETING , RE- The farmers were also required to keep a book FERRALS, AND SOURCES OF CHICKS.prepared by HPI to record income and expensesfor the project, along with production informa- APPPA’S BASE OF ACTIVE PASTURED POULTRYtion such as feed type and costs, labor budget, PRODUCERS IS USEFUL NOT ONLY FOR NET-pasture management, problems encountered, WORKING AMONG PRODUCERS BUT ALSO FORand quality of life information. CONSUMERS LOOKING FOR HIGH -QUALITY NCAT compiled the records and used the in- CHICKEN PRODUCTS IN THEIR AREA. APPPAformation for this booklet. Three HPI field repre- MEMBERSHIP IS NOW ABOUT 500.sentatives provided follow-up support to thefarmers. Several 1890 landgrant universities — South-ern University, Kentucky State University, andTuskegee University — were involved from the Some of these universities have pastured poul-beginning of the project, and in the second year, try demonstration sites and their associated Ex-South Carolina State, Florida A & M University, tension agents offer support to pastured poul-and Fort Valley State University became involved. try farmers.PASTURED POULTRY PAGE 7
  8. 8. On-Farm Results The project will examine the steps needed for On-farm results are encouraging—most farm- building an approved MPU in three states (Ken-ers are very pleased with the enterprise. “Not tucky, Alabama, and Mississippi), as well as fea-only did we make a few dollars, but I am very sibility issues that farmers need to examine whenhappy that we can open the freezer and see 40 planning a business, such as developing a mar-chickens we can eat, “ said a Kentucky producer. keting plan. A “feasibility toolbox” will be cre- ated as a resource for farmers. Also examined will be nutritional resources (obtaining feed in bulk, and getting nutritional advice for natural formulations.) and obtaining reliable stock. HPI is very interested in other groups in- volved in range poultry as well. In a separate SARE-funded project, Southern University (project leader Jim McNitt) will be studying in- tegration of pastured poultry with vegetable pro- duction. The project generated substantial publicity inalternative farming magazines and some projectparticipants, including farmers, were invited togive talks at conferences about pastured poul-try. Producer Life IssuesFUTURE & COLLABORATIVE WORK The University of Wisconsin (project leader Steve Stevenson) received a SARE grant in 1997 A major indication of the first project is the to examine the economic and quality of life is-need for government approved processing facili- sues for pastured poultry producers, as well asties especially for those producers interested in the nutritional qualities of pastured poultry com-commercializing range poultry. pared to conventional poultry (fat, cholesterol, To meet this need, HPI began a second poul- texture, flavor, microbes, and vitamins.) whentry project with support from Southern Region processed on-farm or in government-inspectedSARE in 1999 called “Enhancing Feasibility for plants. They are also carrying out marketingRange Poultry Expansion.” There is an increas- analyses.ing demand for range poultry — including re-gionally produced. Processing Investments In order for producers to access processing fa-cilities, investments are needed to build indepen-dent processing plants. Currently, very few fa- P L E A S E S E E “A P P E N D I X 6:cilities exist for custom processing of poultry— RESOURCES” (P. 32) IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ORDER A COPY OF HPI’Sintegrated processing plants do not serve inde- FINAL PROJECT REPORT.pendent farmers. A way to spread investmentrisk for limited resource farmers is collaborationwith other farmers and associates—a mobile pro-cessing unit (MPU) is one of the options.PAGE 8 PASTURED POULTRY
  9. 9. FEATURED FARMERS Adventures in raising, processing & marketing poultry on the farm FEATURED FARMERS ARE: LAURA & RALPH ROGERS • ROSA & ALVIN SHAREEF • BEN GAMBLE • PLEN YEP FEATURED FARMERS LAURA & RALPH ROGERS -- WOODBINE, KY Providing home-raised poultry to family and neighbors and learning to hatch and sell baby chicks in the community The Rogers were trained at the initial HPI ses- sion at the Salatin farm in June ‘96. Laura had previously kept chickens but was interested in learning how to butcher by herself. Snapshot: Getting Started The Rogers built a pen for the first batch of 105 chicks, which arrived on the farm on 6/27/ 96 and were placed in field pens 3 weeks later. A total of 17 birds were lost during production due to sudden storms and occasional crushing when moving the pen. A total of 88 birds were slaughtered at 9 and 10 weeks old on 8/29/96 and 9/5/96. Twenty- Laura and Ralph Rogers have been involved with five chickens were sold at $6.00 each and 21 wereHeifer Project International (HPI) projects in the past given away as free samples. There were 31 cus-through a local group, Whitley County Small Farms tomers or recipients of samples. The Rogers keptProject. Operating on 9 acres, they keep cattle, goats, 42 birds for home consumption.bees, and poultry. Their two children, Sarah and They used a total of 1244 lbs. of feed or 14 lbs.William (ages 8 and 5), have participated in farm per chicken. The feed cost 13 cents per lb.activities and pastured poultry for the past 3 years. Their expenses and income are summarizedRalph works off farm in electrical lighting. below.Note: For all the Featured Farmers, production numbers may not add up exactly -- the only numbers available were those provided by the farmers. Fixed Costs Amortization Cost after Costs before Amortization Factor1 Amortization__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Pen $136.10 10 batches $13.61__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Waterer $22.95 10 batches $2.30__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Direct Costs Chicks $53.00__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Hired Help $25.00__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Feed $166.58__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Total Costs $260.49__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Income/Value2 of 69 chickens @ $6.00 each $414.00__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Net $153.51___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1 The fixed costs were amortized since it is assumed the items will be used for at least 10 batches.__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2 The value of birds kept for home consumption is included with the income. Any birds given away as free samples are not included as income — they are a marketing cost, although not counted as such in this chart.__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Total Labor Budget 84.5 hours (training time not incl.)__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Earnings per hour $1.82/hrNote: For all Featured Farmers, although the initial earnings per hour are low, there is potential for improvement as producers increase in experience and scale of production.PASTURED POULTRY PAGE 9
  10. 10. Since beginning, Laura has raised about 6 and shares it with other farmers as needed. Themore batches of 100 chickens each. She no longer killing cones, scalder, and picker work well. Itkeeps 100 birds in a pen since they are crowded took some time to find a stainless steel table for evis-when they get larger. ceration. Chickens are not weighed at process- Ralph built a second broiler pen. Now 50-75 ing.broilers are kept in each. Ralph has modified Laura bags the birds for a nice appearancethe new pen with fiberglass on top instead of the and sells themusual aluminum. Mortality is low once the birds fresh. Customersare on pasture, although stray dogs can be a are timely in theirthreat. arrival to pick up Laura moves the pens herself and the children the birds. Five-help feed the birds. She starts raising birds in year-old Williamthe spring and starts her last batch in August. has been espe- Laura also hatches baby chicks for sale as a cially helpful inseparate enterprise. She has incubator equip- catching the birdsment that can set 500 eggs at a time. for slaughter as She sells Golden Lace Wyandotte and Buff well as in the pro-Orpington chicks for layer stock at 70 cents cessing.apiece. She has sold at a local stock sale in the The Rogers en-past, but people now come to her directly. joy keeping about Brooding has been troublesome for Laura. She half of the birds Ralph Rogers takes chickens fromsections off a corner of her barn with plywood they raise and cages for processingand hangs heat lamps to brood chicks. More and selling the othermore cracks are forming in the walls as the barn half. Son William refuses to eat chicken from theages, creating drafts. supermarket. Hatchery Chick Problems Laura continues to sell the birds for $6.00 each. She decided on her price by what she thought A second problem in brooding has been the people would be willing to pay. Marketing onquality of the broiler chicks Laura receives from the Rogers farm is by word-of-mouth, althoughmail-order hatcheries. The chicks are often dam- they have also advertised on the radio. Lauraaged by the time they reach her and sometimes could sell more chickens if she raised more. Shestarving since they have exhausted their yolk sac seeks input from her customers with a question-feed reserves. The hatchery replaces them but naire. Some comments from their first custom-Laura has still invested time and resources in try- ers were: “real tender,” “cooks fast,” and “loveing to save the damaged chicks. it.” Laura has also noticed a large range of qual- In terms of record-keeping, she keeps track ofity with the healthy chicks she receives from how much she pays for feed, how many birdshatcheries—some batches of birds perform very she sells, and her income. She does not knowwell; others do not. her earnings per hour when labor is figured in Due to problems with ordering by mail and but is happy with the enterprise. Manure fromunreliable quality, she has decided to apply her the chickens on pasture has increased the pas-hatching skills to broiler breeders as well as lay- ture fertility for the other livestock.ers. She is currently applying for funding and Instilling Family Valuesexploring ways to hatch good quality broilerchicks on her farm and relay this technology to On the farm, the Rogers value the opportu-other farmers. She believes it is important for nity to involve the whole family in hard workfarmers to be able to raise their own broiler chicks and shared religious values. The pastured poul- try enterprise enhances these values, because thein their communities. whole family has been involved. Processing Equipment The children both know that the first thing to Laura slaughters the birds at about 8– 9 weeks. do every morning is move the chickens and feedShe uses processing equipment on loan from HPI all the animals.PAGE 10 PASTURED POULTRY
  11. 11. FEATURED FARMERS ALVIN & ROSA SHAREEF -- NEW MEDINAH, MS Raising and processing chickens in a Muslim community and spreading the word: “We have become ambas-sadors for pastured poultry.” Want to expand processing capability to reach out-of-state markets. Families in New Medinah have been involved with HPI in the past through the Marion County Self-Help Organization. The families living there now graze sheep, goats, and poultry on the land. They have also tried cut flower and vegetable en- terprises; however, pastured poultry forms the cor- nerstone of their farm operation. Rosa teaches in the community school andAlvin works off-farm. Rosa, Alvin, and Abdul Mahmoud trained at the first Salatin session in Virginia in June 1996. Rosa saw pastured poultry as an enterprise with defi- nite potential. Snapshot: Getting Started The Shareefs’ first 100 chicks arrived on the farm on approximately 9/9/96. They were placed in pastured field pens 3 weeks later. A total of 6 birds were lost during production. A total of 94 were Alvin and Rosa take a brief break slaughtered at almost 8 weeks of age on 11/2/96. Sixty-four chickens were sold at a price of $1.40 The Shareefs raise pastured poultry in a small per lb (birds weighed about 4 lbs) and 10 birds wereMuslim community in Mississippi called New given away as free samples. There were 21 cus-Medinah where about 10 families live. New tomers and recipients of the samples. The ShareefsMedinah was started in 1987 when a number of kept 16 processed chickens for their own eating.Muslims throughout the country each bought an They used 900 lbs. of feed (10 lbs per chicken). Theacre of land in the area—for a total of 84 acres. feed cost 18 cents per lb. Their expenses and in-Rosa and others moved there from northern cit- come for the first batch of 100 birds are summa-ies like Chicago. rized below. Fixed Costs Amortization Cost after Costs before Amortization Factor1__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Amortization__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Pen $121.72 10 batches $12.18__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Brooder $58.90 10 batches $5.89__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Processing supplies $74.56 10 batches $7.46__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Dolly $66.51 10 batches $6.65__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Other $25.65 10 batches $2.57 Direct Costs__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Chicks $48.00__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Feed $161.90__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Freezer bags $3.70__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Wood shavings $21.40__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Total Costs $269.75 Income/Value2 of 70 chickens @ $4.47 each___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ $314.11__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Net $44.36 1__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ The fixed costs were amortized since it is assumed the items will be used for at least 10 batches. 2 The value of birds kept for home consumption is included with the income. Any birds given away as free samples are__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ not included as income — they are a marketing cost, although not counted as such in this chart. Total Labor Budget 115.5 hours (training time not incl.)__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Earnings per hour $0.38/hrPASTURED POULTRY PAGE 11
  12. 12. Since then, other families in New Medinah tured poultry. Rosa and Alvin spoke at the Smallhave been involved in pastured poultry. Abdul Farmers Conference in Nashville, TN, in Novem-and Hafeeza Mahmoud also raise pastured poul- ber 1997. Rosa was an invited speaker at the 2ndtry and share the processing equipment with the International Conference of Women in Agricul-Shareefs. Other members of the community help ture held in Washington, DC, in June of 1998, asout with slaughter. The families in New Medinah was Laura Rogers.also work with a Mennonite family who live close Both the Shareefsby and raise pastured poultry, have hatchery and Mahmouds alsocapabilites, and sell feed. All members of New raise layers for tableMedinah seem happy to have access to buying a eggs. They have dis-local product that is raised and slaughtered fol- covered that oncelowing their religious standards. you have loyal cus- tomers for one prod- uct, they are often in- ALL MEMBERS OF THE SHAREEF FAMILY HAVE THEIR terested in buying PARTICULAR WORK NICHES. additional products. WIFE ROSA’S JOB IS CARING FOR BABY CHICKS IN Niche markets can THE BROODER. SHE ALSO MONITORS WATER also be found for INTAKE IN THE SUMMER MONTHS ON PASTURE— specialty products THE BIRDS DRINK A LOT DURING HOT MISSISSIPPI such as livers, and SUMMERS! gizzards. A local Ni- HUSBAND ALVIN MOVES THE PENS, AND FEEDS gerian family only wants to buy stewers—no fry- AND WATERS THE BIRDS. ers or broilers. A local Vietnamese family likes SON AHMED (9) IS THE EGG WASHER FOR THE the chicken feet. LAYER ENTERPRISE. Marketing Birds DAUGHTER IMANI (16) COLLECTS EGGS AND They could sell many more birds, especially MOVES CHICKS FROM THE BROODER TO THE CRATE if they had access to a USDA-approved plant that WHEN IT IS TIME TO PUT THEM ON PASTURE. would permit them to sell across state lines. They SON S ABIR (19) MAKES TIME IN HIS BUSY currently sell 3 ½ lb fryers for $5–6 each. They COLLEGE SCHEDULE TO HELP ON PROCESSING DAYS. base their price on what customers in the area A LVIN ’ S FATHER , A BDUL -HAKIM S HAREEF , seem able to pay. Across the Louisiana state line, PERFORMS THE KILLING WITH A SPECIAL PRAYER many people pay $7 for a premium bird—the FOR HALAL SLAUGHTER, AND ALVIN’S MOTHER’S Shareefs have been contacted by potential mar- JOB FOR THE FIRST FEW YEARS WAS PREPARING A DINNER FOR EVERYONE AFTER PROCESSING. kets in Louisiana. Rosa writes for an interna- tional newsletter and has realized that she could have many out-of-state customers. Muslim Market An initial customer comment: “These are some The market served by the Shareefs and Mah- fine-looking birds.” Rosa adds that “After car-mouds is mainly a state-wide Muslim market. ing for the chickens I thought I wouldn’t be ableThere is also an annual gathering and Rosa makes to eat them. I got over that fast. They were ten-sure pastured poultry is on the banquet menu. der with an exceptional taste. KFC and Popeye’sHowever, they also market to local non-Muslim have nothing on these chickens.”customers. They initially posted flyers on bulle- Slaughtering Facilitytin boards in the area, put articles in the local The slaughtering facility is a screened-in pa-newspapers, and acquired business cards in or- vilion. Rosa acquired a 13-foot stainless steelder to tap a specialty niche market, but now rely table for eviscerating for only $50 from a localon word-of-mouth. restaurant. They use processing equipment on Spreading the word loan from HPI; however, processing one bird at The Shareefs have given many talks and slide a time is slow. Customers often come to watchshows during their three years of raising pas- the processing and bring their children. FamilyPAGE 12 PASTURED POULTRY
  13. 13. members are very strict about not allowing any- that forced the Mahmouds to discard a batch ofone to process if they have a cold or other illness. birds.The Shareefs and Mahmouds generally sell fresh Goodbye, City Lifebut some chickens are frozen for later pick-up. The Shareefs value “being away from the big Seasonal Production cities, eating healthy food that we can grow with The Shareefs can raise pastured poultry all few chemicals, and uncrowded living conditionsyear round since snow rarely falls in the winter. for the entire family.” Raising pastured poultryHowever, they don’t raise broilers during the enhanced these values because they “were ablewinter since it is unpleasant to process birds with to raise a good, quality product which we andno hot water. The layers stay on pasture all year our customers liked. We were able to instill goodround. Broilers are put back on pasture by Feb- work ethics in our children—caring for some-ruary—if there is a hard freeze, tarps are used thing which is dependent on us.”over the pens for protection. Raising pastured poultry did take time way The Shareefs were fortunate to find a free from other things. “We were not able to travelsource of used bell waterers from a nearby out of town as freely as we used to without get-farmer. After keeping what they needed for their ting someone else to feed the chickens.” Theoperation, the children cleaned up and sold ex- Shareefs believe community life in their areatra waterers as a business venture. would be improved if more people were raising pastured poultry. “People would be eating healthier food and be working towards similar goals which would help bond the community. Also, if more of us were raising pastured poul- try, we could reach a broader market and pur- chase feed in bulk for a cheaper price.” Rosa and her family felt proud that they “were able to raise a good, quality product which we and our customers liked.” BOTH THE SHAREEFS AND M AHMOUDS WOULD LIKE TO The family broods chicks in a separate build- MARKET 1,000 BIRDS PERing. They had trouble brooding at first—10% loss MONTH , AND THEIR GOAL IS TOwas not uncommon. However, more recently FARM FULL TIME .mortality has been low (about 3%) for the entirerearing period. Figuring Profits The Shareefs clear about $2-2.50 per bird inprofit. They generally figure their profit for eachbatch. They use a Mississippi farm record bookand plan to use QuickBooks in the future. Theydo not have an hourly calculation for return tolabor. Early problems included a dog that broke intoa pen and killed all the layers, and a faulty freezerPASTURED POULTRY PAGE 13
  14. 14. FEATURED FARMER BEN GAMBLE -- FLATWOOD, AL Bringing youth back to the community with pastured poultry Ben Gamble lives in Flatwood, a small com-munity near Catherine, Alabama. FlatwoodHeifer Project started in 1993 with a proposal forobtaining brood cows with calves. Beef produc-ers in Flatwood are trying to direct market thebeef, processed at a nearby USDA approvedplant, with a label called Down South Foods. Ben raises pastured poultry on his own par-cel of land. Most farmers in the community ownland parcels of 40 or 80 acres. Ben cooperateswith several community members on the pas-tured poultry enterprise: George Baldwin, Gre-gory Eaton, and Eaton’s two teenage sons Cedricand Fredric. Ben is especially interested in theyouth in his community, training them in mar-tial arts which he learned in the military and look-ing for ways to convince young people to return Ben Gamble at the eviscerating tableto Flatwood community to improve it. Ben alsoworks off-farm as a substitute teacher and school Only 5 were lost during production. Theybus driver. Ben and George were trained at the slaughtered about 140 chickens at 10 weeks old oninitial session at the Salatin farm in June ’96. Ben 8/23/96 and sold them to 16 different customers.sees pastured poultry as an enterprise with great The price was $4 to 4.50 per chicken. They keptpotential for the youth. about 50 for layers. They kept about 25 to eat for Snapshot: Getting Started themselves. Ben and George used 1550 lbs of feed Ben and George started with a double batch (7.91 lbs. per chicken). The cost of feed was 13 centsof 200 chickens (in 2 pens) which arrived on the per lb.farm 6/15/96. Four weeks later, the chickens Expenses and income for the first batch of 200went out to pasture. birds are summarized below. Fixed Costs Amortization Cost after Costs before Amortization Factor1__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Amortization Pen (2 pens) $74.00 10 batches $7.40__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Direct Costs Chicks (200) $141.50__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Feed (for 200 chickens) $200.44__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Total Costs $349.34__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Income/Value2 of 196 chickens @ $4.25 each $834.00____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Net $484.66 (2 batches)__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1 The fixed costs were amortized since it is assumed the items will be used for at least 10 batches.________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2 The value of birds kept for home consumption is included with the income. Any birds given away as free samples are not included as income — they are a marketing cost, although not counted as such in this chart.________________________________________________________________________________________________ Total Labor Budget 65.0 hours (training time not incl.)__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Earnings per hour $3.73/hr/man (2 men)PAGE 14 PASTURED POULTRY
  15. 15. Ben now continuously runs 2 Salatin-style He is careful about record-keeping. He made10’x12’ pens, along with one large pen of his own extra copies of the record book provided by HPIdesign. His steel catch pen is large (18’ x 12’), and notes the date his chicks arrive, brooderwith chicken wire and an aluminum top. It is mortality, and calculates a profit for each batch.easy to move and, although he stocks more birds Ben pays the Eaton boys for help during process-in it, they have more room. He likes to see the ing.birds moving around and exercising in the pen. Needs USDA facility He does not keep his cattle in the pasture with Ben is not satisfied with his current earnings.the poultry. He finds his customers prefer to see He wants to be able to process more birds at aa pastoral scene of chickens grazing and believes time to reduce labor. He would like access to acattle manure could mar that image. USDA-approved processing facility in order to Ben and Gregory Eaton brood chicks together. be able to sell to restaurants in the future.The brooder is a separate 12’ x 12’ building. They The first year, he lost a lot of chickens to preda-add fresh newspaper bedding every 2-3 days. tors: raccoons, opossum, and foxes. Now heThey have had good success with brooding. Ben keeps a dog tied to a cable run near the pens toprovides a medicated feed at first. He is satis- deter predators. When he moves the pens tofied with the quality of chicks he receives from fresh pasture, he also moves the dog.the hatchery. Ben values farm life because of the high-qual- Ben processes depending on the size of bird ity, fresh vegetables and meat available and thedesired by the customer, ranging from small good health it brings.cornish hens to large baking hens. He uses pro-cessing equipment on loan from HPI. The scalderdoes not heat the water sufficiently, so he uses asupplemental water heater. Processing one birdat a time is slow. Sometimes his customers helppluck the chickens. Some of his older customers prefer to buy livebirds. He does not weigh birds at processing be-cause it is too time-consuming. He freezes someof the birds for customers. He raises roaster hensand turkeys for Thanksgiving. He finds that hisurban customers are especially excited about thechickens. FROM BEN’S INITIAL BATCH, HIS Calculating a Price CUSTOMERS COMMENTED THAT THE In order to calculate a price for his birds, he TEXTURE OF THE MEAT WAS DIFFERENTcalculates the cost of feed needed to raise the AND VERY SWEET. BEN THOUGHT THEbirds and adds in a profit for himself. He is not CHICKEN WA S “ FINGER - LICKIN ’only interested in providing a quality product to GOOD.”his customer and building a relationship withthem, but also realizing a profit for himself. Ben is very interested in reducing feed costs.He mixes his own feed (soybean meal, corn, andfish meal) in a large container. He believes thatthe birds are able to forage sufficiently to obtainother nutrients needed in the diet. The forages on his land are bahia, clover, anddallisgrass on gently sloping land. Ben also sowswild game seed for the poultry—including oats,centipede grass, and clover. The birds particu-larly relish clover, barley and rye.PASTURED POULTRY PAGE 15
  16. 16. FEATURED FARMER PLEN YEP -- INMAN, SC Raising chickens in a traditional style for a Cambodian community His two children Paith (22) and Rebecca (14) also help with pastured poultry production and pro- cessing. Plen works off the farm at a mill. Plen was trained in pastured poultry production in Kentucky. Snapshot: Getting Started Plen started with a first batch of 300 chicks. They arrived on the farm 6/4/97 and were placed in pastured field pens 5 weeks later. Plen re- ported a total of 57 of the 300 birds were lost during production due to heavy rain and a cold night in August. A total of 190 were slaughtered at 12 weeks old on 8/28/97. Plen kept 20 for Plen Yep (standing) poses with other farmer eating at home and gave away 10 as free samples. trainees at a Kentucky training. Thirty were sold live. Processed chickens were sold for $6.25 each. Plen Yep and his wife Chean-Chaum live in a Chickens used for home and free samples werecommunity of about 10 Cambodian families near valued at $4.50 each. Plen used 3050 lbs of feedInman, South Carolina. The farm is 14 acres with (14 lbs. per bird). The feed cost 15 cents per lb.one acre for pastured poultry. Other enterprises His expenses and income for the first batch ofinclude fruit trees and caged fish production. 300 birds are summarized below. Fixed Costs Costs before Amortization Cost after 1 Amortization Factor Amortization________________________________________________________________________________________________ Pen (3) $350.00 10 batches $35.00________________________________________________________________________________________________ Direct Costs chicks (300) $245.29________________________________________________________________________________________________ Feed (for 300 birds) $448.00________________________________________________________________________________________________ Processing $50.00________________________________________________________________________________________________ Total Costs $778.29________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2 Income/Value of 206 chickens @ $6.25 each $1287.50________________________________________________________________________________________________ Net $509.21________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1 The fixed costs were amortized since it is assumed the items will be used for at least 10 batches.________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2 The value of birds kept for home consumption is included with the income. Any birds given away as free samples are not included as income — they are a marketing cost, although not counted as such in this chart.PAGE 16 PASTURED POULTRY
  17. 17. Birds are processed at about 12 weeks for fullerflavor. The family processes in a shed usingequipment on loan from HPI. They sell the birdsfor about $6 to $7 a piece, weighing them if re-quested by customers. Most customers pick themup fresh but they freeze some for other custom-ers. The Yeps bag the birds. They sell the meat to Cambodian families inthe area and other locals. It is not difficult tomarket the birds—in fact, Plen is unable to meetthe high demand for his poultry. Many custom- It is not difficult toers say his chicken is the closest to what they were market the birds —able to get in Cambodia and they want to buy in fact, Plen is un-more. He also enjoys his chicken and believes able to meet thethat the way it is raised gives it the good taste he high demand for hisremembers from his childhood. Plen used to let poultry.the birds out of the pen to roam freely duringthe day, but he now keeps them confined in thepen. Brooder setup Plen is happy with the quality of chicks hereceives from the hatchery. The brooder set-upis in a separate out-building. He has modifiedthe building somewhat, but it will require morework for future batches, particularly electricalwiring and isolating the chicks. Now the familyhas 3 pens which they operate continuouslyspring, summer, and fall. They also keep somelayers for table egg production. Enhancing Family & Community Values It is important to Plen that the farm be able toprovide the family with a stable financial, social,and cultural environment, including peace ofmind. Pastured poultry enhances these valuesbecause it increases the level of financial secu-rity of the farm, provides a social and culturalenvironment for his children, and strengthens hiscommunity. The community plays a big role inthe way the chicken is raised, especially in termsof taste and preference, since the communitywants chickens raised the Cambodian way.THE CONCENTRATE DIET IS SOMETIMES SUPPLEMENTEDBY RICE AT FINISHING, A CAMBODIAN TRADITION.PASTURED POULTRY PAGE 17
  18. 18. ROUND-UPS SUMMARIZING THE EXPERIENCES OF 19 POULTRY PRODUCERS IN THE SOUTH This section discusses areas of further inter- PEN CONSTRUCTIONest to potential or practicing producers: Mortal- In this project, the costs of building the fieldity, brooding, weather issues, and feed. It sum- pen varied from $40.00 to $343.00 with an aver-marizes the experiences of 19 producers: Ala- age of $145.20. The time spent building the fieldbama (5), Kentucky (9), Mississippi (2), and South pens averaged about 9 hours and ranged from 2Carolina (3), including those featured earlier in to 24 hours.this booklet. Only first names have been used The pen is 12’ x 10’ x 2’ with a wood frame-for privacy. work. Aluminum roofing covers three-fourths The experiences described in this section rep- of the roof. The sides are enclosed with chickenresent a learning curve by beginners. For detailed wire with one end enclosed with aluminum roof-how-to information on pen construction, brood- ing. A section of the roof lifts off as a door foring, feeding, pasture management, record-keep- access to the pen.ing, etc. please see the Resources Section. The The pens are moved with a dolly. The dollyResource Section lists the HPI Record Book (avail- is placed under one end and the farmer pullsable free of charge from ATTRA) which ad- from the other end.dresses all of these topics. The Resources Sec-tion also provides ordering information for Joel Designs varySalatin’s state-of-the-art book Pastured Poultry While most participants followed a blueprintProfits. for Salatin’s pen, some participants varied the Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural structure of the pens to suit their needs—usu-Areas (ATTRA), the national sustainable agricul- ally to move the pen more easily, to help dissi-ture information service funded by the USDA, pate heat, to have smaller pens, or to allow freeoffers free general information on sustainable access to the pasture.chicken production. Producers can call ATTRAfrom 8:00 a.m- 5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday at itstoll-free number, 800-346-9140. The enterprise activities (ordering of chicks,moving to them to pasture, and processing) werecarried out at various times, indicating that thisenterprise and its activities can be manipulatedto suit the producer and scheduled to fit betweenpeak time demands, anticipation of appropriateweather, and availability of equipment.In this chapter: To prevent predator problems, Steve and Kim- Pens used 2x2’s instead of 1x2’s to make the pen stur-- Brooding dier than Salatin’s. Too heavy for Kim to move,- Weather wheels were added. It also has a heat lamp and- Pasture a fan.- Feeding Lee did not raise 100 birds at one time, because he wasn’t sure if he could process and sell that- Mortality many at once. Instead he raised 2 batches of 50- Processing birds each.- Marketing Lee built his cages smaller than Salatin’s (8’x8’- Labor & Earnings instead of 10’x12’).- Quality of Life Albert and Sheila were also interested in a smaller pen due to their rough, hilly land.PAGE 18 PASTURED POULTRY
  19. 19. Free-Ranging Birds Trenton cut a hole in the pen to allow 6-week-old birds access to the outside for free-ranging.He thinks this reduces stress and plans to con-tinue the practice with other batches; however,he lost two chickens to a fox. Plen also let his birds out of the pen at times.He had to train his dogs not to kill the chickens(they initially killed 10). Hawks also posed athreat. Servicing Pens The average time to service the brooder or John and Angela placed their box in a mobilepens was about 30 minutes per day. home and added fresh newspaper bedding ev- There are many housing options for poultry ery 2-3 days. They lost about 25 chicks in theon range, including modifications to the Salatin- brooder due to temperature problems and hadstyle field pen. Please call and request the free to add a second heat lamp and a fan for ventila-ATTRA publication Range Poultry Housing (see tion.Resources Section). Lee brooded chicks in an enclosed area of a barn. Steve and Kim also used a part of their barn, enclosing chicks in a furniture crate. They BROODING SET-UPS cut additional holes in the crate when they real- Time spent preparing the brooding area aver- ized the chicks needed more ventilation.aged about 4 hours. Don had a friend who brooded chicks for him very successfully in industrial-style brooders. Don would eventually like to have a brooder at home, but it is not a priority. In addition to Pastured Poultry Profits, there are many books available on brooding chicks. Call ATTRA (see the Resources Section) to order the free publication Sustainable Chicken Production Overview, which lists small-scale poultry produc- tion books. In general, chicks were moved onto pasture at about three weeks of age. WEATHER ISSUES Salatin considers weather the biggest variable Salatin brooder in pastured poultry production. Although the Many participants brooded their chicks in boxes. pen construction calls for covering three-fourthsTheodore used a cardboard box surrounded by of it with roofing, rain can still get in. Salatinchicken wire. A heat lamp provided warmth and recommends spreading hay inside the pen if coldthe feeder and waterer were placed in the box. As rain settles in. Sometimes it becomes necessarythe chicks grew, they were placed in larger and to cover open sides of the pen with scrap metallarger boxes to prevent over-crowding. Norma roofing or plywood to protect birds from strongbrooded in a 4’ x 6’ covered cage with 4 heat lamps.Five chicks were lost to chill before she put in saw- winds. For extreme heat, Salatin recommendsdust. Albert and Sheila used a “freezer box cut in propping up the enclosed end of the pen to ven-half with three lights from the top.” The chicks tilate.piled up —19 were lost. Most participants tried out their first batch Trenton placed a box completely within a during the spring or summer when the day-toolshed, which proved to be too busy a place. time temperatures were typically very hot (i.e.PASTURED POULTRY PAGE 19
  20. 20. highs in the mid 90s and lows in the mid 70s). Lee kept goats in the same pasture with theHowever, temperature swings could be dramatic. chicken pens. Although the goats climbed onA Kentucky producer experienced temperature the pens, there was no serious problem. Goatsswings from highs of 102° to lows of 50° in the broke through a pen at Laura and Ralph’s—anmonths of July and August. In the hottest A-frame roof instead of a flat roof prevents goatweather participants considered different ways damage.to cool the birds down. An Alabama producer In general, no pasture preparation other thanconsidered only putting 50 birds per pen or to mowing or haying was done for the chickens.use a gabled roof to reduce heat stress. The land used had various former purposes: to- The weather was very wet for one Kentucky bacco, hay, pasture, lawn, an old peach field, etc.producer (over 6 inches of rain in June) and the Little seeding for the benefit of chickens wasground under the pen was muddy and quickly done.depleted of grass. “Chicken breasts seemed tostay wet and dirty.” An Alabama producer also MOST PARTICIPANTS MENTIONED THAT THE PASTUREfound that the hot and rainy conditions in Au- QUALITY IMPROVED WHERE THE PEN HAD BEEN LOCATED.gust significantly increased his labor since he had A DARK VIVID GREEN COLOR AND THICK FORAGE WASto check on the water supply so often. EVIDENT UNLESS PASTURE REGROWTH WAS SLOW DUE Sudden storms were problematic through- TO DRY WEATHER OR APPROACHING FROST.out the growing season. One Louisiana producerlost 28 birds in April from a drastic change in Forages in the pasture included clover, annualweather (sudden cold temperature, thunder- lespedeza, fescue, orchardgrass, “weeds,” warmstorms). The pen was later modified by nailing season annual grasses. In the lower South, bahia,tin onto the pen to weather proof one corner and common bermudagrass, and dallisgrass were theplacing hay inside the pen. A Kentucky producer norm. One participant seeded the area withlost 6 birds during a storm when they piled on white clover. Usually flat or gently sloping landtop of each other. A South Carolina producer lost was used, and the forage was generally 4-6” high.birds due to heavy rain and a cold night in Au- One Alabama producer experienced somegust. problems with fire ants. Laura and Ralph found PASTURE MANAGEMENT small stumps in the pasture could make it diffi- Salatin recommends a “perennial polyculture” cult to move the pen—they keep one pen in aor a mix of perennial forages. His pastured poul- pasture area and one in a wooded area.try follow a cattle rotation—cattle shorten thepasture for chickens. Proper pasture manage- FEEDINGment requires allowing sufficient rest time for Overall, feed per chicken ranged from 8 to 27the plants to recover after grazing. Many par- lbs., with the average amount being about 14 lb.ticipants kept other animals, but generally did Feed cost ranged from 8 to 21 cents per lb andnot mix them with the chickens on pasture. averaged about 15 cents per lb. Theodore found it was not difficult to “keepthe chickens ahead of the cows” since he con-trol-grazed cattle in paddocks. In Albert and Sheila’s operation, cattle andsheep shared the pasture with the chickens—ifthe chicken feed was spilled, the cattle and sheepcleaned it up after the pen was moved. Roosevelt found there was no problem withcattle being in the same pasture. “At first theywere curious and attempted to eat from the pens.After a week the cattle ignored the pens exceptat feeding time.” He thought the poultry en-hanced the pasture for his cattle, and neighbor-ing cattle farmers were also impressed.PAGE 20 PASTURED POULTRY
  21. 21. Differences in amounts fed may be due toquality of the feed, the length of time the chick- FOR INFORMATION ABOUT ORGANIC FEED SUPPLIERS ORens were kept until slaughter, the feed efficiency HOME-MIXED DIETS, SEE RESOURCES SECTION OR CALLof the chickens, and spillage. ATTRA AT 1-800-346-9140 See Appendices 2, 3, 4 and 5 for averages ontotal feed, feed per chicken, total cost and cost of Foraging chickensfeed per pound. Many producers steer clear of animal pro- A strong marketing advantage of pastured teins such as meat and bone meal due to con-poultry can be the use of a “natural,” non-medi- sumer concerns. Producers also depend on for-cated diet. Many consumers are interested in age to supplement the concentrate feed. Salatinpoultry raised without routine antibiotics or un- estimates that the forage can provide up to 30%appealing by-products in the feed. of the nutrient needs of pastured poultry. Tren- Commercial vs. Home Mix ton supplemented a commercial ration with Many participants used a non-medicated garden greens, fresh alfalfa, and cracked corn.commercial ration; others had the feed mill mix In the future he plans to use more alfalfa and clo-custom rations; others home-mixed rations on ver cuttings.farm. Many participants started with a commer-cial starter ration for brooding and then switched MORTALITYto a home-mixed finishing ration. One producer As described in Pastured Poultry Profits, Joelfound that buying non-medicated commercial Salatin experiences no more than 10% mortality.feed would cost him 18 cents per lb., while his Only 2-3% is due to sickness—the rest is due tolocal feed mill would prepare a custom ration predators and weather. In his book, he describesfor 12 cents per lb. many of the things that can go wrong, especially for novices.ALL POULTRY DIETS REQUIRE A SOURCE OF: Mortality was quite high for the first batches• ENERGY (GRAINS—E.G., CORN) of the grantee farmers. The average number lost• PROTEIN (E.G., SOYBEAN MEAL OR ROASTED SOYBEANS) during production was 31% (see Appendices 2,• CALCIUM (E.G., OYSTERSHELL OR LIMESTONE) 3, 4, and 5 for averages and exact numbers).• PHOSPHATE (E.G., DICALCIUM PHOSPHATE) Mortality was caused by damage to chicks dur-• SALT ing shipping, brooding problems, weather and• TRACE MINERALS AND VITAMINS (I.E. A PREMIX). temperature problems on pasture, crushing birds when moving the pens, and sometimes preda- tion. Some producers grow their own corn andwanted to use it for the chickens. Albert and MAJOR REASONS FOR LOSING BIRDS:Sheila’s feed ration was 85% corn on the cob with • SHIPPING PROBLEMS FROM HATCHERY10% soybean meal (44% protein), and 5% poul- • BROODING MISTAKES & MISHAPStry commercial supplemental crumbs. If home- • INCLEMENT WEATHERmixing rations, producers need to follow proven • PASTURE PROBLEMSrecipes such as Joel Salatin’s or obtain proper • TEMPERATURES: TOO HOT OR TOO COLDadvice from a nutritionist (many feed mills pro- • CRUSHING BIRDS WHEN MOVING THE PENSvide this service). Salatin currently uses corn, • PREDATION FROM FOXES, OPOSSUMS,SKUNKS, ETC.roasted soybeans, crimped oats, limestone,Fertrell Nutribalancer™ (a vitamin and mineral Temperature regulationpermix), fish meal, and kelp meal. He also adds According to Salatin, it is important for day-a probiotic. However, some of Salatin’s ingredi- old chicks to have access to 90°F temperature inents are not readily available in some areas. the brooder. After 48 hours, the temperature can By the second year of the project, all HPI field be reduced by several degrees each day untilrepresentatives supporting these farmers had chicks are feathered at 3 weeks. It is importantaccess to a feed formulation program. to avoid drafts.PASTURED POULTRY PAGE 21
  22. 22. The grantees experienced mortality from Eleven of the 19 participants who reportedbrooding usually due to poor temperature regu- back reported no loss from predators at all fromlation. In addition to the stress caused by cold their first batch. However, Betty lost all but 4temperatures, chicks may pile up and smother chickens out of 50 to a weasel who took 8-12each other trying to warm themselves. nightly. Norma reported that a fox killed 18 ‘Curly toe’ woes chickens. One Alabama producer used dogs for protection since there are many predators in his One participant commented on the impor- area (foxes, racoons, coyotes, opossums, skunks,tance of regularly checking new chicks. “Curly etc.).toe” was a complaint especially during brood-ing—it is due to an unbalanced diet (the B vita- Diseasemin riboflavin is deficient). Disease was very rarely reported in this Lee believes he lost 25 chicks during brood- project. However, other pastured poultry pro-ing from curly toe before he added a vitamin/ ducers at times have reported a high loss of birdsmineral supplement to the water. after getting wet in rainstorms. Parasitism is un- Sometimes shipping the chicks through the likely to be a problem since the pens are movedmail was a major cause of mortality. Chicks may daily to fresh pasture. Producers in this studybe injured during shipping or the shipping pro- generally did not report parasite problems.cess may take too long. Shipping Problems PROCESSING A legal summary was prepared by the Na- Trenton had problems with the hatchery tional Center for Agricultural Law Research andwhere he purchased the chicks. They would not Information concerning the regulations for on-replace the chicks lost in shipping—27 were farm processing (see Appendix 7: Resource Sec-dead on arrival and 25 more died that first day. tion for ordering information).He plans on using a different hatchery in the fu- There are federal exemptions provided in theture—one that is closer. Betty lost all of the 50 Poultry Products Inspection Act that can allowchicks within a few days due to being mashed farmers to process and sell a limited number ofduring shipping and to being sent to the wrong birds from their farms. The exact number, de-address initially. The hatchery replaced all 50. pending on the state, is never more than 20,000Some pastured poultry producers are interested birds per year; many states only allow 1000 birdsin hatching their own stock—“pastured peepers” per year.which come from broiler breeders raised on pas- In addition to USDA and state agricultural de-ture. partment regulations, the state and local health Moving Pens & Predators departments may also have regulations. After the first year of the project, the State Health De- Producers must learn how to move the pas- partment in Kentucky indicated that processedture pens without injuring the birds. Lee found chickens could not be sold at all in the state with-the chickens would run out from under the pen out USDA inspection.when he picked it up. Don sprained his ankleand several friends and his adult children helpedhim move the pens—they all had to learn ways IN ADDITION TO FEDERAL GUIDELINES, IT IS CRUCIAL TOto move pens without running over chicks. CHECK REGULATIONS IN YOUR STATE DEALING WITH POULTRY PROCESSING. HPI was concerned about food safety and committed to helping farmers process in as sani- tary a fashion as possible. A food pathologist at Tuskegee University developed processing guidelines for the farmers for fly control, chill- ing, drainage, disinfection, hand washing, wa- ter use, etc.PAGE 22 PASTURED POULTRY
  23. 23. HPI provided a plucker, scalder, killing cones, Sometimes customers actually helped with theand delunger for processing as well as training processing. Many participants bagged theirin food safety. In the last 2 years of the project, chickens for the customer. Most asked custom-HPI also made funds available for buying stain- ers to pick up birds on processing days, but some-less steel tables. times would freeze the meat for later pick-up— sometimes it was not by choice. Some chickens were sold live. According to one Alabama producer, “In this area, people would rather have live chickens than butchered, and they don’t have to freeze them thereby los- ing some taste.” Processing Set-up Most participants set up processing equip- ment under trees or a shed. Some use a perma- nent building. So the processers are not stand- Water Issues ing in water, Rosa and Alvin used pallets on the Participants were not entirely happy with the floor, and water was drained out.scalder, which sometimes had trouble keepingthe water hot enough, and supplemental hotwater had to be added. Also processing one birdat a time is slow. Processing equipment that canhandle 4 birds at a time would speed things up.Water availability is an issue. Lee can’t processwith rural water. Steve and Kim are on a cisternand have to haul water in for processing. Birds are generally processed according toavailable labor, time, and the ability of the cus-tomer to pick up their birds. Processing also de-pends on the weight of birds the customer de- Salatin set-upsires—from cornish hens to roasters. Butcher-ing was often spread throughout several differ- Trenton set up under a large tree usingent days. branches to support loops of water hose. The set-up included killing cones and a feather picker. The scalder blew the fuses in his house so he used a small, portable burner and a large canning pot of water. A large work area (12 feet long and 2 feet wide) was divided into three equal sections. The first (with a marble counter and sink) was the location for eviscerating carcasses and remov- ing heads and feet. The second countertop was stainless steel and held a bucket of ice water for necks, livers, and hearts, and a bucket for giz- zards. The third section (a kitchen countertop) Pricing the Birds was the final quality control area. Price was generally on a per bird basis since Don’s Operationmost participants did not weigh the birds at pro-cessing. Some participants decided on a price Don describes his processing set-up:that would provide them with a profit, but most • “Killing: With V-bolts I clamped a board tocharged according to what they believed their 2 steel T-posts I had driven into the ground. Weclientele would pay—generally about $6 per bird hung the kill cones on the board with nails.(see Appendices 2, 3, 4, and 5 for prices per bird). • Scalding: We heated water with propane.PASTURED POULTRY PAGE 23

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