- Beck-Chenoweth, H. Free-range poultry
production & marketing: A guide to raising, processing, and marketing premium
quality chicken, turkey & eggs. Back Forty Books, Creola, Ohio, 1997.
- This manual gives all the details on how to
raise, process and market free-range poultry and egg products. The information
given is based on several production models put forth by other farmers and by
the author himself, who is a full-time farmer in southeastern Ohio, living in
an income-sharing community dedicated to living a simple life in harmony with
nature. Herman Beck-Chenoweth produces hay, beef and dairy cows, vegetables,
poultry, eggs and furniture. His birds are started in barns and are moved to
pasture at 4-6 weeks. They are kept in skid houses, range around the skids,
and are moved to fresh pasture in general every three to four weeks. "Our
goal, is to give our birds the best life they could have, honor that life by
consistently producing the best tasting, cleanest, healthiest meat or eggs we
can, all the while improving our soil. If we can do all that AND make a
reasonable return for our efforts, we are satisfied."
- Beck-Chenoweth, H. Free-range, pastured
poultry, chicken tractor--What's the difference?
In: Free-Range Poultry. Web Site.
Free-Range Poultry Production and Marketing, Creola, Ohio, 2001.
- Today there are three leading systems for
producing poultry outdoors on pasture with significant differences between the
systems. "Free-Range is a non-confinement system that uses a perimeter
fence to deter predators. A variation of this system, known as DayRange, uses
an Electronet portable fence to keep the birds safe from dogs and coyotes
during daylight hours. The large-scale access to pasture combined with the low
stocking rate (400 chickens or 100 turkeys per acre) allows the birds plenty
of area to exercise and deposit manure.
- Pastured Poultry,
as researched and taught by Virginia farmer, Joel Salatin, is a confinement
system with a grass floor, using portable pens approximately 8 x 10 feet in
size. The pens, each containing about 80 chickens, are moved by hand and must
be moved twice daily.
A third system, the Chicken Tractor was developed by Andy Lee and is a
useful system for raising 50 or so birds for home use. By placing these pens
in the garden, soil is tilled and manure can be placed exactly where desired.
This is not a commercial sized system, and is also a confinement system. A
recent refinement of the Chicken Tractor is the addition of a pop-hole door to
allow the birds to range at least part of the day."
Beck-Chenoweth, H. Free-Range Poultry. Web Site. Free-Range Poultry
Production and Marketing, Creola, Ohio, 2001.
- Free-range essentials and a production budget
are given. The three systems of producing poultry outdoors on pasture are
Berton, V. and Mudd, D. Profitable Poultry: Raising Birds on
Pasture. USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), Washington, DC,
- This bulletin features farmer experiences plus the latest research in a
new "how-to" guide to raising chickens and turkeys using pens, movable fencing
and pastures. With examples from farms from all over the country it touches on
the system's many opportunities to improve profits, environment and rural
family life. Poultry system options, many of them outdoors, that raise
chickens for greater profit with less environmental impact and better
conditions for the birds, are examined and alternative poultry systems such as
pastured poultry pens, day range, yarding, chicken tractor and free-range are
described. The bulletin also covers potential for profit, production basics,
environmental benefits, quality of life and marketing options. This document
provides an excellent comprehensive overview of alternative poultry farming
with many color photos.
- Bowman, G. 'This is real chicken' : Iowa farm
women forge links with thankful consumers. The New Farm; 15(6),
- The members of Homestead Pride Poultry
Cooperative raise chickens on non-medicated feed in existing outbuildings that
give the birds plenty of room to run. Farm-raised broilers are a viable
alternative, when costs are kept low by selling directly to consumers. Co-op
members do everything except hatching chicks and processing.
- Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. Large-Scale Pastured
Poultry Farming in the U.S. (Research Brief #63) Center for
Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS), UW-Madison, Madison, WI, 2001.
- Results of a survey involving 9 producers raising at least 4,000
pastured chickens per year across the U.S. First all nine raised their
chickens in 10' by 12' pens, moving them at least once a day. Five of the
producers switched to a day range system to reduce labor. The chickens are
allowed free range inside a fenced paddock during the day and are enclosed in
a weather-tight and predator-proof shelter at night. The greenhouse-type
buildings that house the chickens are moved about once a week and electrified
netting is moved daily around the greenhouse to rotate pastures. Questions
relating to labor, marketing and income are addressed.
- Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. Pastured poultry study
addresses broad range of issues. (Research Brief #46). Center for
Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS), UW-Madison, Madison, WI, 2000.
- This research brief is a summary of the pastured poultry study. 'Five
diversified farms in Wisconsin and Minnesota are providing the data for the
study. Diane Kaufmann, a pastured poultry farmer from Chippewa Falls,
Wisconsin, and one of the producers participating in the study, says: "I see
the pastured poultry model as a farming method that requires low investment,
with labor that can be provided by almost anyone, and provides a healthy life
for the bird and the person who consumes it."
- Cicero, K. Homes on the range: Portable
poultry pens are proliferating. The New Farm; 17(4):13, May/June 1995.
- Tips for building portable pens for pasturing
- Cramer, C. Pastured poultry resources . In:
Cramer, C., Sustainable Farming Connection: Where farmers find and share
information. Web site. Committee for Sustainable Farm Publishing,
- This page lists various resources: a pasture
poultry discussion group to share tips with other pasture poultry producers; a
quarterly newsletter published by the American Pastured Poultry Producers
Association, sharing information on production practices, processing
equipment, marketing, legal issues, and more; books, guides and information
packages, press releases, new equipment, and additional sites.
- Dolinski, M. Raising Organic Pasture
Poultry. Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Alberta, Apr.
- "Producers are choosing to grow pasture
poultry because they believe it is the most ethical way to grow poultry. The
birds are handled in a low-stress way and are always in the fresh air after
three weeks of age. They are not subjected to living on and pecking at their
own droppings and have fresh, green, growing grass available to them at all
times. Another reason for choosing organic is that some producers do not want
people to consume the medications and by-products that a conventional bird
receives. They also want to avoid the herbicides and pesticides that are
sprayed on conventional grains. These producers want people to have a choice
when purchasing their food and feel they are offering a healthy alternative."
Includes sections on growing season; birds; brooding; feeding; on pasture;
pasture; moving to pasture; causes of death loss; labor.
Fanatico, A. Range Poultry Housing. ATTRA (Appropriate Technology
Transfer for Rural Areas), Fayetteville, Ark., Apr. 1999.
- Pastured poultry field pens:
In this system, birds are housed in a field pen that is moved daily to fresh
pasture. Seventy-five to one hundred chicks (two to four weeks old) are placed
in 10'x12'x2'pens. Since the pen is floorless, the birds are able to forage on
plants, seeds, insects, and worms in addition to their concentrate feed. Water
must be provided. Some producers use a field pen, yet open it during the day
to give the chickens free range. Others provide access to a portable corral.
It may not be necessary to move the field pen daily if this method is used.
Free-range colony housing: In this production system, birds are housed
at night for protection and released during the day. Housing can be more
substantial than a field pen since it is not moved daily by hand–the housing
is towed (by tractor, pick-up, or horse) every week or so to prevent wear on
the pasture. Beck-Chenoweth uses a shelter on skids enclosed with chicken wire
with litter-covered floors, tarp-covered gable roofs, and doors on both ends.
The only fencing required is perimeter fencing to deter daytime predators such
Semi-fixed or fixed housing: The traditional "yard and coop" system is
one that most people are familiar with. If stocking density is low and birds
are allowed to roam freely during the day, this can be a simple system.
Fanatico, A. Sustainable Poultry: Production Overview. ATTRA
(Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas), Fayetteville, Ark., March
- "This publication provides information on raising poultry on pasture,
including descriptions of production systems and facilities, as well as
detailed nuts-and-bolts information."
The following operations are described:
semi-intensive (chickens in semi-intensive operations are raised
in non-moveable buildings with access to outdoor grazing in pens that are used
and coop" (Some producers let chickens, mainly layers, roam the farm at
will, shutting them up at night to protect against predators.)
field pen: pastured poultry (Broilers are pastured in floorless
pens, which are moved daily to fresh pasture.)
net range or day range (Net-range uses portable net fencing
around a house to make multiple yards.)
free-range ("Free-range" refers to operations using
non-contained access to pasture and moveable housing such as the eggmobile or
colony production system (uses multiple small roosting houses
scattered on pasture)
Most of these models feature access to pasture but with modifications.
- Fanatico, A., compiler. Pastured Poultry: A
Heifer Project International Case Study Booklet. National Center for
Appropriate Technology, Little Rock, AR, 2000.
- This 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 Limited Resource
Farmers." Introduction to pastured poultry, farmers' experiences and
guidelines on how to raise poultry on pasture are available on the site.
Highlighted are brooding, pen construction, weather, pasture management,
feeding, mortality, processing, marketing, labor and earnings, and quality of
- Geissal, D. Free-range poultry. Small Farm
Today; 13(3):20-21, June 1996.
- The organic or natural market is an ideal
niche for small farmers. Consumers are becoming concerned about the lack of a
normal llife for factory birds, or the way chickens are pumped full of
antibiotics and hormones. Birds, and eggs from birds raised on pasture, free
of antibiotics and hormones can be sold at a premium price. The author gives
advice on how to start chickens on pasture. She has solved the predator
problem by having Great Pyrenees dogs on the farm.
- Klober, K. Sustainable poultry for pasture.
Small Farm Today; 15(2):21-22, Apr/May 1998.
- The author suggests developping one's own
strain of broilers for pasture, using crosses of two different pure breeds,
rather than using the Cornish-X broiler that is a high performance bird, whose
needs are not being met on pastureland. A purebred breeding flock to produce
home-raised broilers can be begun on nearly any small farm. Suggestions and
advice are given.
Kuit, A.R., Ehlhardt, D.A., and
Blokhuis, H.J., eds. Alternative improved housing systems for poultry:
Proceedings of a seminar in the Community programme for the coordination of
agricultural research, held at the Spelderholt Centre for Poultry Research and
Extension, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Netherlands,
Directorate of Agricultural Research, Beekbergen, 17 and 18 May 1988.
Commission of the European Communities. Office for Official Publications of
the European Communities, Luxembourg, 1989.
- The seminar primarily makes an inventory and a
comparison of the housing systems that have been developed in European
countries, as a result of consumer concern about the well-being of poultry.
The seminar focuses on animal welfare research, inventory of systems
developed, welfare and utilization of space in new housing systems,
zootechnical and economical aspects of alternative housing systems for
- Lee, A. and Foreman, P. Day Range Poultry: Every Chicken Owner's
Guide to Grazing Gardens and Improving Pastures. Good Earth Publications,
Buena Vista, VA, 2001.
- Information about raising poultry on pasture from egg to processing.
"In the day range system, the poultry are sheltered at night in mini-barns or
portable units that have floors with deep bedding. The floor and bedding that
keep the birds warm and dry during wet and cold weather. The birds are
protected from predators and weather, and allowed to graze in the daytime
inside temporary paddocks that are fenced with portable, electric poultry
netting. The netting keeps the poultry in, and the predators out... The area
for poultry to graze is moved regularly by repositioning the poultry netting.
This eliminates over-grazing, and gives the poultry continual access to fresh,
- *Riddle, J.
Alpine chicken tour. The New Farm (Web Site). Rodale Institute, 2003.
- "A photo tour of a Swiss organic poultry farm, with a detailed look at
innovative production techniques": 'None of Mr. Dieters laying hens are
de-beaked. Pecking is prevented through a variety of strategies. The house and
outdoor areas are subdivided into units of 500 birds. There are equal numbers
of brown and white breeds, breaking up the pecking order. There are a few
roosters in each flock. Birds are given plenty of space, both indoors and out.
They are provided with a variety of roosts and activities to satisfy their
natural behavior. They are provided a balanced ration, ensuring that they have
plenty of protein. The building is well ventilated, with excellent air
- Salatin, J. Pastured poultry profits.
Polyface, Swoope, Va., ©
- "In this book a proven production model is
described, which is capable of producing an income from a small acreage equal
or superior to that of most off-farm jobs. Salatin keeps his broilers in 2
foot tall pens that are moved over fresh grass every morning and his layers
free-range around a portable hen house called an eggmobile. The book gives
details about getting started, choosing a breed, starting the chicks, ration,
the pasture, processing, problems, marketing, possibilities. "Pasturing allows
chickens to be grown without damaging substances. Out on pasture, with fresh
air, sunshine, green material and wholesome feed, broilers will outperform
their factory counterparts in every way. ... They will possess a superior
taste. That makes them easy to sell and easy to eat. It allows competitive
production costs, all the while producing a more nutritious, clean product."
Not only are his chickens healthier but they are also happier. "The long term
benefits for society are greater because we are treating our animals better.
But we don't do it for business reasons. We do it because it's right." says
- Thear, K. Free-Range Poultry. Farming
Press, 1997, 2nd ed.
- Practical and comprehensive guide to the
free-range management of chickens. Every aspect of poultry husbandry is
covered, including non-intensive systems, both small scale and larger scale;
chapters on equipment, land management, breeds, nutrition, egg quality, table
poultry, breeding, rearing, health, and marketing.
- Traupman, M. Profitable poultry on pasture.
The New Farm; 12(4):20, 23, May/June 1990.
- Broiler and layers follow beef cattle in this
rotation. On Salatin's Polyface Farm, 50 head of beef graze pasture first.
Controlled by portable electric fences, the cattle leave a trail of manure and
4 to 5 inches of grass stubble in their wake. Four days after the cattle chow
down on the grass, the chickens are put on that pasture to clean up after
them. Both the layers and broilers love to pick through fresh manure for
insects, and undigested food particles. Salatin keeps his broilers in movable
pens and his layers free-range around a portable hen house called an eggmobile.
Pasturing has cut Salatin's feed expenses up to an estimated 60 percent on
layers and 30 percent on broilers. Also, the boilers reach market weight two
weeks earlier than normal.
- Fanatico, A. and Born, H. Label Rouge: Pasture-Based Poultry
Production in France. ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural
Areas), Fayetteville, Ark., Nov. 2002.
- "Pasture-raised poultry is increasingly popular in the U.S. American
farmers and small companies can benefit from studying the French Label Rouge
program. Started as a grassroots movement and now commanding 30% of the French
poultry market, it has helped boost incomes for small farmers... This program
provides premium products to consumers, increases farmer income, and
strengthens rural development. It consists of many regional producer-oriented
alliances, called filieres, which produce and market their own branded
products under a common label. A third-party certification program ensures
that strict standards are being followed." All birds have access to range and
their feed is non-medicated. See one example at
Good Natured Family Farms
- A Cooperative in central and southeast Kansas
and west central Missouri, selling all natural beef, now also sell eggs. To
qualify for membership, a producer must be a small family farm, raise hens
free ranged without hormones or subtherapeutic antibiotics.
- NC SARE Office. Pastured poultry, co-op style.
Field Notes. NC SARE Quarterly Fact Sheet; May 1999.
- Nebraska farmer David Bosle got inspired by
Joel Salatin's book on how to raise chickens naturally on pasture, but he
expanded on Salatin's example by buying and processing birds cooperatively
with other Nebraska producers. This fact sheet profiles Bosle's model. His
system "mirrors Salatin's in supporting local economies, clean environments,
profitable farms and satisfied poultry consumers. But Bosle's collective
enterprise adds a cost-share twist while meeting a high demand for pastured
poultry." "There is a huge, untapped market for pastured poultry in Nebraska",
says Cris Carusi, executive director of the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture
Society." Lots of people remember what farm-raised chicken tastes like, and
they jump at the chance to serve that kind of quality to their families."
- Organic Valley Family of Farms.
Web Site. 1999-2002
- Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative members
number over 190 small to mid sized family farms in 10 states. The purpose of
CROPP Cooperative is to give market support for sustainable agricultural
practices that are beneficial to the environment thus providing consumers with
quality products. All animals must receive adequate access to fresh air and
sunlight. Cattle are pastured in certified organic fields, chickens are free
roaming with outdoor access, and hogs are not confined and are allowed to
pasture. Livestock is considered an essential component of a healthy
sustainable agricultural system. Careful handling of waste material recycles
nutrients back to the earth to grow the grasses and feed while protecting
natural waterways. Hormones, like rBGH, or antibiotics are never used in
production. The products are certified organic by Oregon Tilth.
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