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.
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.