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Animal Sciences and Industry

Heritage Poultry/Small Farm

Sustainable Small Farm Poultry Production

The potential exists for rural development or small farm diversification by growing small flocks or poultry for specialty and niche markets. These small farms cannot compete with corporate farms in the same markets, but they may be able to target high end, value-added niche markets for customers seeking locally produced food.

In the U.S., a grassroots "pastured poultry" movement has been expanding since the early 1990's. Poultry raised on pasture are processed on-farm and direct marketed, which may create supplemental income in rural areas.

If you've spent any time researching this topic, you've probably already found that there's not much recent new information available when it comes to the smaller farms. Part of this reason is that most University infrastructure for conducting feasibility and research studies for sustainable poultry is virtually non-existent in the United States. Many university farms, including the KSU farm, moved toward confinement studies as the commercial industry changed. Recent outbreaks of Avian Influenza and Exotic Newcastle in some small farm flocks points out the need for research in those areas, both to protect the commercial industry as well as the small flock owner.

In order to address some of these new issues and opportunities, the KSU Tom Avery Poultry Research Center has proposed to significantly upgrade an existing facility into a sustainable poultry research farm. The upgrade will include the addition of outdoor and indoor runs. General electrical, insulation and equipment upgrades will also be required. Outside fencing will need to be installed around the existing structure for the birds to simulate a range operation.

To assist to the general public, we'd like to provide an educational area and material for small producers and youth who visit. This would be a very worthy reason to make a contribution.

When completed, the remodeled facility will be able to conduct research on free-range turkeys, broilers, and game birds. Growing poultry organically and free-range egg production can also be studied. The focus of the work will be on nutrition, management and business enterprise, all with an emphasis on small farm production.


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