Considering Adding Broilers? Here’s a Tool to Help You Plan

Poultry processing regulations are one of the primary challenges for small farms hoping to add broilers to their farms. To give small farms a chance, in many states, there are exemptions for small farms to make. You'll need to check your local regulations, but here in Vermont, the 1,000 or less bird exemption allows farms to produce and sell broiler chickens through certain market channels without requiring the birds to be processed in a state or federally inspected facility. This opens the door for many small start-ups or add-on poultry enterprises to enter the marketplace. But Is It Profitable? What are the business prospects for a farm trying to sell up to 1,000 organic broilers?  Are these farms viable stand-alone businesses or are they better left as add-on enterprises to an existing farm? Spend enough time with any farm business adviser and you get the standard, yet thoughtful response:  "It depends." It certainly does depend on a number of factors.  So the University of Vermont Extension Farm Viability program developed poultry budgets to help us all get a better answer.  We reviewed finances with several farmers, reviewed older studies and vetted the budget template with agricultural specialists to develop and "average farm" financial projection for an organic 1,000 bird operation.  The conclusion is that it still depends….but at least now we can tell you what it depends on, and what you should watch out for. Financial performance for year one of an

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