Cornell Small Farms Program & Department of Animal Science Livestock Fact Sheets Raising Pastured Poultry Revised 10/7/05IntroductionRaising pastured poultry, birds with access tovegetative land, has been growing among smallscale farms. Meat is supplied to the familywith surplus chicken sold at local markets orright off the farm. In New York, each familymember can raise up to 1,000 birds and processthem on farm. Barred RockMost producers buy chicks at a day of age andraise them for 3 weeks in a brooder beforesetting them out on the land. From 3 weeks toharvest weight, grazing areas should be rotateddaily to avoid destroying the sod and build upof manure and bacteria in one place.Successions of flocks can be raised each yearduring warm weather. (spring to fall). Cornish CrossBroilers or fryers are slaughtered at 8-14 weeksof age when they weigh 6 to 10 pounds anddress at 70-75 percent. (ready-to-cook weight) Feed RequirementsMeat-type chicks are usually purchased on a While on pasture, chickens will need astraight-run (males and females mixed) basis. concentrate ration to meet their nutritional needs. Commercial mixes can be purchasedBreeds from feed stores or custom mixes can be madeCommercial meat strains have been developed from corn, soybeans and mineral/vitamin mix.from breeds such as the Cornish, Plymouth Check the ingredient list if you are raisingRock and New Hampshire. Many pasture “natural” birds because commercial mixespoultry producers are using crossbred chickens often include medications to preventlike the Cornish Cross (Cornish x Rock). coccidiosis.Kosher King is a breed popular with smallproducers who prefer the flavor and hardiness It will take an average of 10 pounds of feed forof this breed. The Kosher King meat bird will a chick to reach market weight.grow slower than the Cornish cross, requiring10 to 12 weeks to reach market weight. Other Facilitiesbreeds such as White or Barred Plymouth Chickens can be contained in floorless pens,Rocks and Rhode Island Reds are more often one example, 10’ x 12’ x 2’ pen will contain 75used for farm flock meat and egg production. to 90 broilers each. Smaller pens may be easierThese are considered less efficient meat birds, to move but in turn will hold fewer birds.but good duel purpose breeds. These pens are constructed to be light-weight to
allow them to be moved daily by one person. Common bedding materials (litter) includeThe birds have access to forage and insects as wood shavings, rice hulls or ground cobs. Dowell as a grain supplement and water in the not use sawdust or cedar chips as the birds maypen. consume it instead of their feed.Another option is to have birds on free range The most common causes of sickness orduring the day, kept contained and safe by mortality in pasture poultry are Ascites (Waterpoultry netting. Shelter will be required to Belly), respiratory problems, excessive heat,provide shade and protection from prey. At coccidiosis, necrotic enteritis, heart attacks andnight the birds may be moved to a closed house mineral deficiencies.to protect them from predators if adequateshelter is not available within the fenced area. Poor air quality and temperature control contribute to birds either being too warm,When the broilers reach harvest weight, finding showing signs of cannibalism, or too cold anda processor can be a challenge. With the stressed from temperature swings and showingfinancial help of grants, a Mobile Processing signs of sinusitis or pulmonary hypertension.Unit (MPU) has been developed by the South- Chicks require a minimum 100% air exchangeCentral NY RC&D to help producers’ process 6 times in a 24 hour period, meaning thatbirds on farm. The unit can be towed by truck steady continuous air movement is required forand is available for a small fee. For more good health.information, contact: SoCNY RC&D, 99North Broad Street, Norwich, NY 13815, 607- Coccidiosis and necrotic enteritis are both very334-3231 ext. 4. easily controlled by keeping brooders clean and dry. Birds should be protected from wet, soiledCornell Cooperative Extension of surfaces by addition of bedding 2-3 times perAllegany/Cattaraugus County received a SARE day during the brooder stage. This isgrant to build a MPU. This unit can be particularly important for natural or organicborrowed by contacting: CCE, 5435A County raised birds. Symptoms of these diseasesRd 48 Belmont NY 14813 1-585-268-7644 ext. including diarrhea, lifelessness, excess water18. consumption and pasty rear ends.Other mobile processing units have been made Heart attacks also known as sudden deathservicing local communities in western NY. syndrome (SDS), shows up as dead chickens onFor more information contact: Bill Henning, their backs with their feet straight up in the air.Extension Educator, 315-536-5123. Although it is not known precisely what causes SDS, many experts believe it is heat and stressHandling and Labor Requirements related. Be vigilant that birds have consistentlyI. Health good air quality where it is needed most: atThe temperature where the baby chicks are “beak” level.raised should be 90 to 95 degrees F for the firstweek. Reduce the temperature 5 degrees per Mineral deficiencies show up in poultry as feetweek until you get to 70 degrees. At this time and leg problems. If your birds are showingthey shouldn’t need any additional heat. Try to signs of curly toe and/or spraddle leg, they mayprovide ½ square foot per bird at the start. have riboflavin or manganese deficiencies in their feed source. A vitamin/mineral
supplementation to the water source will help allowances are needed to provide adequateto prevent these problems from occurring. ventilation on hot summer days.II. Management Joel Salatin’s pen has been the focus forWhen buying chicks make sure to: pasture poultry enthusiasts. There are many • Choose a hatchery nearby modifications in construction of these movable • Arrange overnight deliveries (chicks in pens to allow for lighter frames and ease of transit more than 1 day will have a moving on steep terrain or rough pastures. Pen much higher death loss) If receiving designs can be viewed in the newsletter “Grit!” chicks by mail be sure to contact your published by the American Pasture Poultry post office to inform them in advance. Producers Association. If you are in a small rural town, you may want to have birds shipped to Poultry Net is an electrified netting material larger post office. It is worth the travel designed to keep poultry in, predators out and to assure birds are only in transit be easily moved. Examples can be viewed at: overnight. www.premier1supplies.com • Make arrangements with supplier to replace chicks that are dead or weakened on arrival Cornell Poultry Specialist • Research the parent stock to find Dr. Tro Bui hardiness for pasture raising Morrison Hall Cornell UniversityNewly arrived chicks will need to be raised in a Ithaca, NY 14853brooder where adequate warmth, feed, air flow 607-255-6600and water can be provided. Be sure each chickdrinks upon arrival, water is more importantthan feed at this point in time. Weather Level of Skillpermitting; birds can range outside on warm Pros:sunny days at 3 weeks of age. If wet or cold Low capital investmentconditions prevent you from putting the birds Can start small and grow the operationoutside, they can be introduced to pasture by Can be run by one personplacing clipped forage in the brooders. Kids can help Chickens can supplement otherPen designs: products available for on farm sales Cons: Susceptible to predators Susceptible to weather Requires daily labor and intensive labor for processing Finding processing facility Seasonal (only during the grazingPasture Poultry Shelter season)Design pen structure to allow for 2 square ft of Animal Sourceground space per 6 pound broiler. Proper space
The following list is not complete. No endorsement Hoover’s Hatchery, Inc.is intended or implied for one company over PO Box 200another. Rudd, Iowa 50471 800-247-7014To purchase baby chicks: Murray McMurray Hatchery, IncNortheast Pasture Poultry Association Box 458Ken & Jill Gies Webster City, Iowa 50595-0458680 Fordsbush Rd (515)832-3280Fort Plain, NY 13339 www.mcmurrayhatchery.comTele: (518) 568-5322 Market AvailabilityReich Poultry Farms Processed chickens can be marketed right off1625 River Road the farm directly to consumers, throughMarietta, PA 17547 established farmers markets or through localTele: (717) 526-3411 natural food stores. Each market has pros and cons. Talk with other pasture poultryClearview Stock Farm and Hatchery producers to find the best markets for yourBox 399 area.Gratz, PA 17030Tele: (717) 365-3234Budget IIncome amount/1000 birds General estimate Your estimateProcessed Broilers Kosher King 950 birds@ 4.5 lbs x $2.00/lb $8550 ____________ (Initial 1000 minus death loss) Gross income/1000 birds $8550 ____________Expenses Grain (10000 lbs x $380/ton) $1900 _____________ Mobile pens $200 _____________ (need 4 pens, lifespan 4 years) Processing $2.00/bird $1900 _____________ Purchasing chicks ($.80/chick) $800 _____________ Brooder & electricity $150 _____________ Vitamin/mineral supplement, misc $100 _____________ Operating cost/1000 birds $5050 _____________ Net receipts/1000 birds $3500 _____________
Budget II Income amount/1000 birds General estimate Your estimate Processed Broilers Cornish Cross 950 birds@ 5.5 lbs x $2.00/lb $10450 ____________ (Initial 1000 minus death loss) Gross income/1000 birds $10450 ____________ Expenses Grain (10000 lbs x $380/ton) $1900 _____________ Mobile pens $200 _____________ (need 4 pens, lifespan 4 years) Processing $2.00/bird $1900 _____________ Purchasing chicks ($1.05/chick) $1050 _____________ Brooder & electricity $150 _____________ Mineral/vitamin supplements, misc $100 _____________ Operating cost/1000 birds $5300 _____________ Net receipts/1000 birds $5150 _____________For More Information THE COOP - Resource on Raising, Breeding, andSmall Farms Program Showing Poultry135c Plant Science Building http://www.the-coop.org/index.htmlCornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853www.smallfarms.cornell.edu “Chicken Tractor,” by Andy Lee and Patricia Foreman Good Earth Publications, 540-261-8874ATTRA www.GoodEarthPub.comAppropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas, P.O.Box 3657, Fayetteville, AR 72702 “Pasture Poultry Profits: Net $25,000 in 6 Months,” byhttp://www.attra.org/livestock.html Joel Salatin, 800-355-5313, www.acresusa.com/booksAmerican Pastured Poultry Producers Association “Range Poultry Housing”http://www.apppa.org/ http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/PDF/poulthous.pdf Maryland Small Ruminant Page www.sheepandgoat.com Livestock Fact Sheet series developed with grant funds provided by Cornell Small Farm Program Prepared by Martha A Wright, MS, PAS, Extension Educator, Department of Animal Science, Cornell University Cornell Cooperative Extension provides equal program and employment opportunities.