[Market-farming] pastured poultry

Steven Moize Shady_Grove_Farm at msn.com
Fri Apr 20 19:17:11 EDT 2007


One,  if you have no prior experience raising poultry, I would suggest you start small, less than 100 birds per batch.  A brooder for 500 birds would be quite large (25' x 25' square) at minimum, I like more room personally...

Two, remember, before you put birds in the brooder or on the ground, you should have all necessary equipment and infrastructure in place beforehand.  Do not make the mistake of thinking you can 'build as you go'.  

Three, as for processing the birds, what state are you in?  I am in NC and we own an independent poultry and rabbit abattoir (processing facility).  We are USDA inspected.  

Four, on farm processing has its limit, restrictions, pitfalls, etc...  USDA inspection (or in some states a state inspected processing facility) is required to sell to restaurants and in public venues (farmers markets/off farm).  If you process on farm you must sell on farm.  500 birds will require a freezer and proper packaging.  I do not know of anyone who can sell 500 birds before they could spoil (refrigerated).  A typical deep chest freezer will hold 200 birds max.

Four,  think about feed and storage.  500 broiler birds will eat about 250 pounds of feed per day even on pasture.  You can not expect a production broiler to survive, much less achieve a market weight in 6-10 weeks on grass alone.  

Production broilers do not forage as well as heritage breed birds.  In fact, they are quite lazy in that respect.  They are bred for eating and growing, not foraging.

I teach pastured poultry and sustainable livestock classes in our area, please, feel free to contact me if you have questions before you start.  Our farm is organic, our livestock are pastured/free roaming, our feed is mostly forage based.  

There is way too much info to convey in an e-mail, contact me if you would like more help,
Steven Moize
The Shady Grove Farm and JBF Processing
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