FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 14, 1997
Eleven southern farm families are raising "pastured poultry"
through a project to help these limited-resource farmers boost
incomes and diversify operations by growing, processing and
marketing chickens on their farms. The farmers are also founding
members of the new American Pastured Poultry Producers
Association (APPPA) which helps producers around the country
network with others.
Funded by the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and
Education (SARE) program and sponsored by Heifer Project
International (HPI), the three-year project employs the proven
methods of the Joel and Teresa Salatin family of Swoope, VA,
authors of the popular book, "Pastured Poultry Profits: Net
$25,000 in 6 Months on 20 Acres."
"In the Salatin pastured poultry model, chickens are raised in
floorless pens which are moved daily to fresh pasture," says Anne
Fanatico, outreach coordinator for the project. "The chickens
receive exercise and fresh air while foraging for plants and
insects, and their manure is spread evenly onto the pasture. They are fed a concentrate feed, usually non-medicated."
As a kick-off, the eleven farm families, from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Carolina, participated in a hands-on training session at the Salatin farm in June 1996. During the three-day workshop, the families learned about brooding, pen-building, processing, food safety, and marketing. A summary of legal regulations affecting on-farm processing was presented, along with a survey of the experiences of producers who have already adopted the Salatin model.
After training, the families received a grant from HPI to help them raise a batch of 100 chickens in 1996 on their farms; to keep a notebook monitoring income and expenses, labor, pasture management, and any difficulties encountered; and to train another farmer in pastured poultry production.
According to preliminary information, production to date has gone well for the farmers. The chickens are processed on-farm and direct-marketed to customers. "Not only did we make a few dollars but I am very happy that we can open the freezer and see 40 chickens we can eat, " farmer Kim Brinson of Livingston, Kentucky, said. Most of the project farmers plan to raise new batches this spring.
Fanatico said over the next two years the project will incorporate from 10 to 20 new farmers per year, as the first set of farmers help to train the second and third sets. Farmers are being selected from groups that are supported by HPI, and training will resume in the spring. Local Extension agents working with the farmers are also trained to provide technical support, and several universities (Kentucky State, Tuskegee, and Southern) are establishing demonstrations. ATTRA, a national sustainable agriculture information center, will publish case studies which will be available to the public when the project concludes.
HPI, a nonprofit development organization which is based in Little Rock, Arkansas, and promotes community development activities through livestock enterprises, sponsors the "Integration of Pastured Poultry Production into the Farming Systems of Limited Resource Farmers." The SARE grant also supports the formation of APPPA.
APPPA publishes a quarterly newsletter to promote the exchange of ideas and information, which include reviews of legal issues regarding on-farm poultry processing, information on chicken feed, rations, new/used production and processing equipment, marketing, referrals, and sources of chicks. APPPA's database of active pastured poultry producers is useful not only for networking among producers but also for consumers looking for high-quality chicken products in their area. Anyone interested in pastured poultry production is encouraged to become a member of APPPA. To join, send $20 to APPPA, c/o Diane Kaufmann, 5207 70th Street; Chippewa Falls, WI 54729 (telephone 715-723-2293).
The pastured poultry model was developed in the South but is used on small farms in other parts of the nation for seasonal production. The book "Pastured Poultry Profits" can be ordered for $30 (plus $3.50 postage) from The Stockman Grass Farmer; P.O. Box 9607; Jackson, MS 39286 (telephone 1-800-748-9808). A video is available for $50 (plus $3.50 postage).
Anne Fanatico, Technical Specialist, NCAT/ATTRA
PO Box 3657
Fayetteville, AR 72702
(501) 442-9824, (800) 346-9140