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Grow More Chicken – Questions to Ask Before You Go For It

By   /  March 2, 2015  /  Comments Off on Grow More Chicken – Questions to Ask Before You Go For It

Diversity is a good thing, and chicken is delicious. Adding more chicken to your farm might be win win. Here’s a tool to figure out if that’s a good choice for you.

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Poultry Toolbox Cover

The toolbox was written for Heifer International by Anne Fanatico of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and David Redhage of the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, with the assistance of other contributors.

Who doesn’t want more free-range poultry? (Outside of vegetarians, that is.) No one. But if you’re thinking of taking advantage of exemptions that allow farmers to sell 1,000 birds per year direct to customers without federal inspection, you’re looking at a whole different scale. If you go past that tipping point, you’re going to face marketing issues and legal considerations that make feasibility an issue. That’s where this publication comes in.

There are a lot of questions well worth answering before you start to raise a larger flock. Those questions are addressed in the Growing Your Range Poultry Business: An Entrepeneur’s Toolbox, a useful publication developed for Southern SARE. You’ll be asked to assess your resources – from land to labor to physical structures, and ask yourself how the heck you are going to market 5000 birds, anyway. If you don’t have a way to sell those birds, stop the chicken train right there.

Here's the Table of Contents for the Toolbox.

Here’s the Table of Contents for the Toolbox.

You can conduct a marketing survey, and the Toolbox talks you through a lot of options on how best to figure out the market for your growing poultry production. From there, you also can learn about the production side of things. When you assessed your resources, you may have found some gaps. Those gaps may mean it won’t work, but ingenuity may help. As British author Arnold Bennett said, “Much ingenuity with a little money is vastly more profitable and amusing than much money with no ingenuity.”

A walk through this publication can help you figure out if you should grow more chicken. We also recommend Mark Cannella’s article on raising broilers.  It comes with a handy Excel spreadsheet that can help you calculate if you’re going to make money to go along with your ingenuity.

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About the author

editor and contributor

Rachel's interest in sustainable agriculture and grazing has deep roots in the soil. She's been following that passion around the world, working on an ancient Nabatean farm in the Negev, and with farmers in West Africa's Niger. After returning to the US, Rachel received her M.S. and Ph.D. in agronomy and soil science from the University of Maryland. For her doctoral research, Rachel spent 3 years working with Maryland dairy farmers using management intensive grazing. She then began her work with grass farmers, a source of joy and a journey of discovery.

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