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They're a great moneymaker for any grazing farm.
Donna Jenney and Mike Carroll think pasture is for the birds. In addition
to their dairy and beef stock, the couple are also graze 400 broilers that they
process and vacuum pack on their farm near Cortland, N.Y., and sell to local
customers for $1.39 per pound.
The two were inspired by a '94
field trip sponsored by the South Central RC&D to visit pioneering grazier
Joel Salatin, who raises beef, hogs and poultry on his farm near Swoope, Va.
Salatin has perfected a low-cost system of raising broilers on pasture in
portable pens, processing them on the farm and selling them directly to
customers, netting about $3 profit per bird. He calculates that the return for
the producers' time is about $15 per hour. Using a similar system, Salatin
sells eggs to upscale restaurants for $2.40 per dozen.
Jenney and Carroll returned home to their Nature's Way Farm, they began scouring
auctions and sales to find a second-hand plucker and other equipment, built
portable pens based on Salatin's design, and did a test run raising 200 broilers
and 25 turkeys in '95. Encouraged by their success, they doubled their
production this season, and are busy turning an old bus into a portable
"The processing can be time-consuming, but it only takes a few
minutes each day to move the pens and check the feed and water," says
Jenney, who also serves as secretary for the fledgling Pastured Poultry
Association of South Central New York. The group's dozen or so members raise up
to 1,000 birds each, the maximum that can be processed on-farm without federal
inspection, notes Jenney.
For more information, contact PPA of
SoCNY, c/o SoCNY RC&D, R.D. 1, Box 20-36, Norwich, NY 13815; (607)
334-4715. Salatin's 340-page book Pastured Poultry Profits is available
for $30 from The Stockman Grass Farmer: (800) 748-9808.
©1997 Committee for
Sustainable Farm Publishing
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