Applied Poultry Science Professional Development Project - Phase II

Final Report for ENE14-131

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2014: $70,715.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2017
Region: Northeast
State: Maine
Project Leader:
Donna Coffin
UMaine Extension
Co-Leaders:
Dr. Richard Brzozowski
University of Maine Cooperative Extension
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Project Information

Summary:

In response to increasing consumer demand for local foods, many farm families have started or are very interested in integrating poultry enterprises in their operations to increase farm income.  Poultry are efficient converters of feed to meat or eggs, do not require much space and fit nicely as a complementary enterprise on many types of farms. Agricultural service providers within Extension were surveyed in 2013 about their knowledge of poultry. Over 92% of the 40 respondents felt they were not effectively serving poultry producers. Only one respondent was confident in answering poultry related questions, and 81%were interested in gaining knowledge and skills in poultry science. 

Through this project’s 3 multi-day seminars and 14 webinars, 24 agriculture service providers in New England gained knowledge and skills in basic poultry science of egg production, meat production, nutrition, health, facilities, breed selection, biosecurity, processing, regulations, marketing, poultry business planning and management to use in education programs and consultations with poultry producers. The project also focused on the development of poultry-related educational materials, with participants developing some of these resources, and on building a cohort of co-learners who could share questions, solve problems and learn from each other through a group listserv.

Project participants came from a range of backgrounds and experiences related to agriculture, technology, education and service and each had a solid history of working directly with farmers. Eligible service providers from the six New England states applied to participate and each received the written support of their immediate supervisor.

Surveys were administered to participants each year from 2014-2016 to learn how they had been able to use what they learned to educate farmers and others. In response to these surveys, 18 of the service providers reported conducting 114 educational programs and events and 747 one-on-one consultations that reached 5,253 people. Not all were poultry producers, but those who were managed 135,723 birds. The educational offerings included Backyard Poultry classes where participants learned about poultry breeds, housing, health, and nutrition for small-scale meat and egg producers; Chicken Talks, where topics included getting started with backyard chickens, lean farming: poultry innovations, poultry enterprise budgets and pricing and systems efficiencies in poultry production; Backyard 101; training for Mobile Poultry processing unit users; and chick embryology. Numerous one-on-one technical assistance consultations on biosecurity, poultry health, and disease diagnosis and management and poultry health were also conducted. Over the course of the project, participants and team members also contributed educational resources including 1 scholarly article, 8 factsheets or brochures and 1 producer survey.

Post-event evaluations were not conducted for all programs conducted by service providers; however, responses on questionnaires after the Backyard Poultry classes indicated that 93% of the 34 participants planned to make changes based on what they learned within one-week to one-year.

Performance Target:

Twenty (20) agricultural service providers in New England will provide technical assistance and economic and management advice to 100 farmers raising at total of approximately 50,000 poultry for meat or egg production, helping them enact management changes that improve production, poultry health, poultry nutrition, market development, sanitation and biosecurity, food safety, regulatory compliance, energy efficiency, and business management; these changes result in, on average, an additional $5,000 in income each year over the two-year period.

Introduction:

This effort equipped agriculture service providers with practical knowledge and skills through a three-year professional development project focused on applied poultry science and helping farmers establish, maintain and/or expand profitable poultry enterprises. The PI with the assistance of regional poultry specialists and project participants planned and conducted the training sessions. Topics included: basic poultry science of egg production, meat production, nutrition, health, facilities, breed selection, biosecurity, processing, regulations, marketing, poultry business planning and management. 

In addition to face-to face sessions, an annual series of webinars provided additional training opportunities for project participants. Service providers were able to keep in touch through a dedicated listserv where assistance was given for responding to clients’ poultry related questions. A website for this project was also developed to house the projects publications and other materials.

Educational Approach

Educational approach:

A sequence of training started with poultry basics and progressed into more advanced topics. Following is an outline of the topics and issues that were presented each year.

 Year 1:

A 3-day poultry science seminar was presented in Freeport, Maine from October 22-24, 2014. Twenty-three (23) agriculture service providers participated. The seminar included lectures, discussions, problem-solving activities and a hands-on activity of dissecting chickens. The seminar topics included: history of the poultry industry in New England, Virtual Chicken viewing, managing layers effectively, economics of layer flocks, creating a poultry problem solving network, hands-on poultry dissection, diagnostic labs & services available, using the verification tool, common management mistakes, poultry raising systems, poultry breakeven calculator.

Two sixty-minute webinars were presented through the online educational presence “eXtension.” Topics included:

  • Egg Production Systems
  • Feeds & Feeding of Pullets and Layers.

 Year 2:

Eight more sixty-minute webinars were presented through eXtension

  • Quality Eggs from Different Production Systems
  • Health Concerns for Egg Layers
  • Managing Egg Laying Flocks
  • Problems with the Digestive System
  • Problems with the Respiratory System
  • Problems with the Skeletal System
  • Immune System and Vaccination Program for Poultry Flocks
  • Avian Influenza and the Backyard Flock

A 3-day poultry science seminar was presented in Freeport, Maine from October 21-23, 2015. Nineteen (19) agriculture service providers participated. The seminar included lectures, discussions, problem-solving activities and tour of a poultry processing plant. Topics included: Selection of stock for rearing (breeds), rearing management, review of poultry problem solving network, tour of new poultry processing facility, health and biosecurity management, nutritional management, cost of production of laying hen, processing the meat bird – regulations, equipment, marketing, etc., and managing game birds.

 Year 3:

The 4-part webinar series for meat production were presented through eXtension

  • Raising chickens for meat production
  • Raising ducks for meat production
  • Raising geese
  • Overview of poultry-related equipment

On-site Training: A 3-day poultry science seminar was presented in Freeport, Maine from October 19-21, 2016. Sixteen (16) agriculture service providers participated (15 returning + 1 new person) and two (2) instructors. There was some attrition of members that have moved on to other positions and are no longer responsible for responding to poultry issues. This training session covered regulatory and marketing issues including understanding NPIP, organic vs. conventional practices, inspection process, alternative markets, ethnic markets and alternative products, as well as an over view of HACCP rules.

Milestones

Milestone #1 (click to expand/collapse)
Accomplishments:

Publications

Milestone 1
Thirty (30) agricultural service providers will complete an online pretest in applied poultry science as a benchmark from which to measure growth and change in knowledge and skill levels.

  • Twenty-two individuals completed the pretest at the start of the 3-day poultry training in October 2014. The pretest was not administered online as previously planned but for logistical reasons was administered as a paper and pencil test. Four Extension poultry specialists, who comprise the instructor team for this project, submitted questions for the pretest. The average number of correct answers was 13 out of 20 or an average score of 64 for the pretest.
  • The final post-test was administered at the last 3-day training in 2016. Seventeen service providers completed this test. Sixteen got all the 20 questions correct and one person had one question incorrect. This shows a 36% improvement in test scores from the first session pre-test.

 Milestone 2
At least 20 agricultural service providers who participate in the project webinars, workshops, independent study and problem solving network will gain measurable knowledge and skills to assist sustainable poultry enterprises through efficient and well-designed educational programs.

2014:

  • Twenty-three (23) agricultural service providers (11 Extension, 6 non-profit, 1 farmer, 5 state agency) participated in a 3-day poultry science seminar presented in Freeport, Maine from October 22-24, 2014. The seminar included lectures, discussions, problem-solving activities and a hands-on activity of dissecting chickens. An electronic survey of participants was performed to determine the usefulness of the seminar. When asked - As a whole, how useful was the training to you and your work as an agriculture service provider? Eighty-five percent (17 of 20 respondents) found the training “very useful”. One hundred percent said that the training provided them with a good start to the two-year professional development project. A summary report of the follow-up survey results is attached. To complement the seminar, participants were provided with a resource notebook, “The Virtual Chicken” dvd, the Chicken Health Handbook, an Eggcyclpedia and a curriculum notebook on eggs.
  • In the two months following the seminar, two 60-minute webinars were presented through the online educational presence “eXtension”. Dr. Kenneth Anderson of North Carolina State University presented a webinar on egg production systems on November 12. Based on an informal registration at the time of the event, this webinar was attended by personnel as categorized as follows: 7 Extension, 3 non-profit, 7 farmers, 2 state agency. Dr. Paul Patterson from Pennsylvania State University presented a webinar on feeds & feeding of pullets and layers on December 10. Based on an informal registration at the time of the, this webinar was attended by personnel as categorized as follows: 10 Extension, 5 non-profit, 23 farmers. These webinars were designed for agriculture service providers but were promoted across the country and open to any interested individual. The webinars were archived for repeated viewing.

 2015:

  • Webinars: Three more sessions on egg production were presented through 60-minute “eXtension” webinars. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky presented a session on Quality Eggs from Different Production Systems.  Dr. Michael Darre, University of Connecticut presented a session on Health Concerns for Egg Layers and another on Managing Egg Laying Flocks.  These sessions were viewed by 676 people. Also, a more extensive poultry health webinar series was presented in the first quarter of the year with the following topics: Problems with the digestive system, Problems with the respiratory system, Problems with the skeletal system and Immune system and vaccination programs for poultry flocks.  An additional 252 folks viewed these sessions for a total of 928 folks accessed these webinars.
  • Due to the emerging threat of Avian Influenza additional webinars on Avian Influenza and the Backyard Flock and Biosecurity and the Backyard Flock were added.
  • On-site Training: A 3-day poultry science seminar was presented in Freeport, Maine from October 21-23, 2015. Nineteen (19) agriculture service providers participated. The seminar included lectures, discussions, problem-solving activities and tour of a poultry processing plant. The seminar schedule is attached. An electronic survey of participants was performed to determine the usefulness of the seminar. When asked - As a whole, how useful was the training to you and your work as an agriculture service provider? (64% -very useful, 18% - useful, 18% somewhat useful.) The training was accomplished by personnel as categorized as follows: 9 Extension, 5 non-profit, 5 state agency.

2016:

  • A total of 334 individuals viewed a 4-part monthly webinar series for meat production on the following topics:
    • Raising chickens for meat production – 97 views
    • Raising ducks for meat production – 100 views
    • Raising geese – 92 views
    • Overview of poultry-related equipment – 45 views
  • On-site Training: A 3-day poultry science seminar was presented in Freeport, Maine from October 19-21, 2016. Sixteen (16) agriculture service providers participated (15 returning + 1 new person) and two (2) instructors. There was some attrition of members that have moved on to other positions and are no longer responsible for responding to poultry issues. This training session covered regulatory and marketing issues including understanding NPIP, organic vs. conventional practices, inspection process, alternative markets, ethnic markets and alternative products, as well as an over view of HACCP rules. An electronic survey of participants was performed to determine the usefulness of the seminar. When asked - As a whole, how useful was the training to you and your work as an agriculture service provider? (62.5% -very useful, 25% - useful, 12.5% somewhat useful.) The training was accomplished by personnel as categorized as follows: Extension 8, non-profit 3, state agency 5.

 Milestone 3
At least 20 agricultural service providers will each design, adapt or create educational materials for poultry producers. Team leaders as well as other project participants will review these educational materials.

Over the course of the project, 25 participants contributed to these resources:

  • Producer Surveys - 1
  • Scholarly article – 1 – developed by 1 participant
  • Factsheets/ brochures – 8 developed by 22 participants
  • PowerPoints developed for 114 programs by 16 participants

An example publication is “Starting from Scratch” a three-fold brochure with information on raising baby chicks for new poultry owners developed by two team members. 200 were distributed in fall 2016 with 3,000 being printed to distribute to feed stores and auctions in the spring time 2017.

Milestone 4
At least 20 agricultural service providers will learn about poultry anatomy by dissecting a chicken. In teams of 2 and 3 individuals, participants will dissect a chicken to learn about disease, parts & functions, the digestive tract and the reproductive tract.

  • In year 1 working in teams, 22 participants (10 Extension, 6 non-profit, 1 farmer, 5 state agency folks) learned how to properly catch, handle, restrain, humanely euthanize and dissect chickens. The protocol for handling and euthanizing the birds for this educational activity was approved by the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC) at the University of Maine.

Milestone 5
At least 20 agricultural service providers will actively participate in the poultry problem-solving network to strengthen and apply their knowledge of poultry science. Participants will actively solve poultry-related problems by asking probing questions and gathering facts. Team leaders will help direct questions for self-discovery.

  • A list serve email group was set up through Google groups and with 38 members.
  • During the three years of the project 188 topics were shared within the group.

Topics included new resources, upcoming webinars and online courses as well as a forum to respond to questions and concerns. The majority of the topics in 2015 were focused on the progression of Highly Pathogenic H5N2 Avian Influenza across the country and what small-scale poultry producers could do to reduce their risk. Members were encouraged to conduct self-study assignments including an assignment to research information on a poultry disease. In 2016, the list serve email group shared 81 topics including new resources, open positions, upcoming webinars as well as a forum to respond to questions and concerns. Some topics that got a lot of interaction include: poultry in a vegetable garden, layer facility scenario and cost of production information.

Milestone 6
Each agricultural service provider will work directly with five farmers per year with an existing or planned poultry enterprise. Participating farmers will be asked to provide production results and basic income statements via online reporting for the respective poultry enterprises to compare performance with similar enterprises. Case studies of participating farms will be assembled for educational purposes. Using the verification template, participants will gather data from the producers with whom they are working. Project team leaders will assist as needed.

  • In 2015, 17 service providers (8 Extension, 2 non-profit, 1 farmer, and 6 state agency) presented 29 programs to 1,769 individuals and consulted with an additional 549 individuals about poultry care. A total of 2,318 individuals learned more about keeping poultry. Those who keep birds had an estimated 94,046 birds.
  • In 2016, 12 service providers (6 Extension, 3 Non-profit and 3 state agency folks) presented 85 programs presented to 2,737 individuals and consulted with an additional 198 individuals about poultry care. A total of 2,935 individuals learned more about poultry care. Those who keep birds had an estimated 58,637 birds. The service providers also interacted with hundreds of others at fairs, auctions and NPIP visits.
  • In total, the agriculture service providers worked with a total of 5,253 people including current poultry producers, potential poultry producers at 114 educational programs & events, and 747 one on one consultations. These clients kept an estimated 135,723 birds.

Details about the service providers’ activities were reported in the Outcomes section above.

Performance Target Outcomes

Performance target outcome for service providers narrative:

Outcomes

With the assistance of four poultry specialists from the region a total of 24 agriculture service providers participated and benefited from this professional development project. Participants were surveyed each year to determine their accomplishments.

In 2014, twenty-three service providers participated, and due to timing of the training did not work with any producers.

In 2015, nineteen service providers participated in the training with eight responding in a survey that they worked with 2,318 individuals through educational programs, one on one consultations and farm visits. The poultry producers among these contacts kept an estimated 77,086 birds.

In 2016, sixteen providers participated in the training with five responding to a survey that they worked with 2935 individuals through programs, one on one consultations and farm visits. The poultry producers taught or advised kept an estimated 58,637 birds.

Total direct contacts over the three years were 5,253 people who kept an estimated 135,723 birds. Financial information for impacts were reported to be $83,000 for 89 farms providing detailed information.

Specific examples of assistance provided to poultry producers include:

  • Backyard Poultry Programs were held where 34 participants learned about poultry breeds, housing, health, and nutrition for small-scale meat and egg producers. Post class evaluations indicated participants plan to make changes based on what they learned: 32% of the 34 intended to make a change within one week, 18% in one month, 48% in one year and 7% did not plan to make any changes. So, 93% of participants plan to make changes based on what they learned. On a scale of 1 to 5 with 1= none and 5 = much participants scored the talks 4.5 on knowledge gained.
  • Chicken Talks was another educational effort where participants learned about topics that included: getting started with backyard chickens, lean farming: poultry innovations, poultry enterprise budgets and pricing, systems efficiencies in poultry production, Backyard 101, training for Mobile Poultry processing unit users, and chick embryology
  • One Service provider reported that one of the producers with she worked with and provided training to was able to secure his state slaughter license from DPH and successfully use the Mobile Poultry Processing Unit this year to process over 300 birds for direct sale to consumers, resulting in new economic returns of $9,000.
  • Two other service providers from a state department of agriculture visited 68 small-flock backyard farms with an average flock size of 30 to inspect birds and educate the producers about biosecurity. In the year previous to their visits, approximately 20 of 68 the backyard farms had to cull their flocks due to an infectious or contagious disease. In the year following the inspection and education visits, only 1 farm needed to cull. The remaining farms also made improvements to their biosecurity that improved the health and productivity of their birds. The service providers estimated the value of the reduced culling and flock productivity improvements resulting from improved biosecurity and health management at $40,000 for the producers who avoided culling and $34,000 for the remaining producers who improved health and productivity.
  • The University of Maine Animal Health Lab (UMAHL) provides diagnostic testing for salmonella (SE) and other common infectious diseases of chickens – 6,400 samples were analyzed in 2014-2015. Results from this testing show that no SE has been detected in Maine poultry businesses since 2009. During the 2014-15, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) swept through the United States, the UMAHL provided information to producers through webinar, blog and workshops to prevent the spread of this disease. Testing for HPAI was provided by collaboration with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, and to date, no HPAI has been detected in the Northeast.
  • Diagnostic information from the Maine Animal Health Lab was provided to 125 individual farmers who keep an estimated 3,500 birds. Necropsy results and other associated testing provides producer information and guidance for curing and preventing health problems.
  • Poultry specialists assisting with this project’s training estimated the financial impact from changes in poultry care due to new interventions by service providers as $5/bird for laying hens. This increase could reasonably be expected if producers changed just one thing (i.e. switched to nipple waterers from bucket waterers that would prevent bedding from getting wet which leads to decreased bedding costs and decreased losses from disease due to moist environment.) Actual financial impact would be much greater due to continued laying of birds not lost to disease. Of the 21 clients attending Backyard Poultry classes taught by service provider participants 81% planned to make at least one change in how they raised their birds.
  • Indirect communications with poultry keepers included poultry webpages, archived webinars, radio, newspaper article and newsletter. Over 110,000 people are more aware about care of poultry from these methods. Many were the general public who were able to gain a better appreciation of what it takes to care for poultry.

Additional Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

Milestone 1
Thirty (30) agricultural service providers will complete an online pretest in applied poultry science as a benchmark from which to measure growth and change in knowledge and skill levels.

  • Twenty-two individuals completed the pretest at the start of the 3-day poultry training in October 2014. The pretest was not administered online as previously planned but for logistical reasons was administered as a paper and pencil test. Four Extension poultry specialists, who comprise the instructor team for this project, submitted questions for the pretest. The average number of correct answers was 13 out of 20 or an average score of 64 for the pretest.
  • The final post-test was administered at the last 3-day training in 2016. Seventeen service providers completed this test. Sixteen got all the 20 questions correct and one person had one question incorrect. This shows a 36% improvement in test scores from the first session pre-test.

 Milestone 2
At least 20 agricultural service providers who participate in the project webinars, workshops, independent study and problem solving network will gain measurable knowledge and skills to assist sustainable poultry enterprises through efficient and well-designed educational programs.

2014:

  • Twenty-three (23) agricultural service providers (11 Extension, 6 non-profit, 1 farmer, 5 state agency) participated in a 3-day poultry science seminar presented in Freeport, Maine from October 22-24, 2014. The seminar included lectures, discussions, problem-solving activities and a hands-on activity of dissecting chickens. An electronic survey of participants was performed to determine the usefulness of the seminar. When asked - As a whole, how useful was the training to you and your work as an agriculture service provider? Eighty-five percent (17 of 20 respondents) found the training “very useful”. One hundred percent said that the training provided them with a good start to the two-year professional development project. A summary report of the follow-up survey results is attached. To complement the seminar, participants were provided with a resource notebook, “The Virtual Chicken” dvd, the Chicken Health Handbook, an Eggcyclpedia and a curriculum notebook on eggs.
  • In the two months following the seminar, two 60-minute webinars were presented through the online educational presence “eXtension”. Dr. Kenneth Anderson of North Carolina State University presented a webinar on egg production systems on November 12. Based on an informal registration at the time of the event, this webinar was attended by personnel as categorized as follows: 7 Extension, 3 non-profit, 7 farmers, 2 state agency. Dr. Paul Patterson from Pennsylvania State University presented a webinar on feeds & feeding of pullets and layers on December 10. Based on an informal registration at the time of the, this webinar was attended by personnel as categorized as follows: 10 Extension, 5 non-profit, 23 farmers. These webinars were designed for agriculture service providers but were promoted across the country and open to any interested individual. The webinars were archived for repeated viewing.

 2015:

  • Webinars: Three more sessions on egg production were presented through 60-minute “eXtension” webinars. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky presented a session on Quality Eggs from Different Production Systems.  Dr. Michael Darre, University of Connecticut presented a session on Health Concerns for Egg Layers and another on Managing Egg Laying Flocks.  These sessions were viewed by 676 people. Also, a more extensive poultry health webinar series was presented in the first quarter of the year with the following topics: Problems with the digestive system, Problems with the respiratory system, Problems with the skeletal system and Immune system and vaccination programs for poultry flocks.  An additional 252 folks viewed these sessions for a total of 928 folks accessed these webinars.
  • Due to the emerging threat of Avian Influenza additional webinars on Avian Influenza and the Backyard Flock and Biosecurity and the Backyard Flock were added.
  • On-site Training: A 3-day poultry science seminar was presented in Freeport, Maine from October 21-23, 2015. Nineteen (19) agriculture service providers participated. The seminar included lectures, discussions, problem-solving activities and tour of a poultry processing plant. The seminar schedule is attached. An electronic survey of participants was performed to determine the usefulness of the seminar. When asked - As a whole, how useful was the training to you and your work as an agriculture service provider? (64% -very useful, 18% - useful, 18% somewhat useful.) The training was accomplished by personnel as categorized as follows: 9 Extension, 5 non-profit, 5 state agency.

2016:

  • A total of 334 individuals viewed a 4-part monthly webinar series for meat production on the following topics:
    • Raising chickens for meat production – 97 views
    • Raising ducks for meat production – 100 views
    • Raising geese – 92 views
    • Overview of poultry-related equipment – 45 views
  • On-site Training: A 3-day poultry science seminar was presented in Freeport, Maine from October 19-21, 2016. Sixteen (16) agriculture service providers participated (15 returning + 1 new person) and two (2) instructors. There was some attrition of members that have moved on to other positions and are no longer responsible for responding to poultry issues. This training session covered regulatory and marketing issues including understanding NPIP, organic vs. conventional practices, inspection process, alternative markets, ethnic markets and alternative products, as well as an over view of HACCP rules. An electronic survey of participants was performed to determine the usefulness of the seminar. When asked - As a whole, how useful was the training to you and your work as an agriculture service provider? (62.5% -very useful, 25% - useful, 12.5% somewhat useful.) The training was accomplished by personnel as categorized as follows: Extension 8, non-profit 3, state agency 5.

 Milestone 3
At least 20 agricultural service providers will each design, adapt or create educational materials for poultry producers. Team leaders as well as other project participants will review these educational materials.

Over the course of the project, 25 participants contributed to these resources:

  • Producer Surveys - 1
  • Scholarly article – 1 – developed by 1 participant
  • Factsheets/ brochures – 8 developed by 22 participants
  • PowerPoints developed for 114 programs by 16 participants

An example publication is “Starting from Scratch” a three-fold brochure with information on raising baby chicks for new poultry owners developed by two team members. 200 were distributed in fall 2016 with 3,000 being printed to distribute to feed stores and auctions in the spring time 2017.

Milestone 4
At least 20 agricultural service providers will learn about poultry anatomy by dissecting a chicken. In teams of 2 and 3 individuals, participants will dissect a chicken to learn about disease, parts & functions, the digestive tract and the reproductive tract.

  • In year 1 working in teams, 22 participants (10 Extension, 6 non-profit, 1 farmer, 5 state agency folks) learned how to properly catch, handle, restrain, humanely euthanize and dissect chickens. The protocol for handling and euthanizing the birds for this educational activity was approved by the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC) at the University of Maine.

Milestone 5
At least 20 agricultural service providers will actively participate in the poultry problem-solving network to strengthen and apply their knowledge of poultry science. Participants will actively solve poultry-related problems by asking probing questions and gathering facts. Team leaders will help direct questions for self-discovery.

  • A list serve email group was set up through Google groups and with 38 members.
  • During the three years of the project 188 topics were shared within the group.

Topics included new resources, upcoming webinars and online courses as well as a forum to respond to questions and concerns. The majority of the topics in 2015 were focused on the progression of Highly Pathogenic H5N2 Avian Influenza across the country and what small-scale poultry producers could do to reduce their risk. Members were encouraged to conduct self-study assignments including an assignment to research information on a poultry disease. In 2016, the list serve email group shared 81 topics including new resources, open positions, upcoming webinars as well as a forum to respond to questions and concerns. Some topics that got a lot of interaction include: poultry in a vegetable garden, layer facility scenario and cost of production information.

Milestone 6
Each agricultural service provider will work directly with five farmers per year with an existing or planned poultry enterprise. Participating farmers will be asked to provide production results and basic income statements via online reporting for the respective poultry enterprises to compare performance with similar enterprises. Case studies of participating farms will be assembled for educational purposes. Using the verification template, participants will gather data from the producers with whom they are working. Project team leaders will assist as needed.

  • In 2015, 17 service providers (8 Extension, 2 non-profit, 1 farmer, and 6 state agency) presented 29 programs to 1,769 individuals and consulted with an additional 549 individuals about poultry care. A total of 2,318 individuals learned more about keeping poultry. Those who keep birds had an estimated 94,046 birds.
  • In 2016, 12 service providers (6 Extension, 3 Non-profit and 3 state agency folks) presented 85 programs presented to 2,737 individuals and consulted with an additional 198 individuals about poultry care. A total of 2,935 individuals learned more about poultry care. Those who keep birds had an estimated 58,637 birds. The service providers also interacted with hundreds of others at fairs, auctions and NPIP visits.
  • In total, the agriculture service providers worked with a total of 5,253 people including current poultry producers, potential poultry producers at 114 educational programs & events, and 747 one on one consultations. These clients kept an estimated 135,723 birds.

Details about the service providers’ activities were reported in the Outcomes section above.

Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

Potential Contributions

Through this project, we provided in-depth training for New England Agriculture Service providers who gained knowledge and skills in basic poultry science of egg production, meat production, nutrition, health, facilities, breed selection, biosecurity, processing, regulations, marketing, poultry business planning and management.

 With this knowledge, participants became more effective in assisting clients on a one to one basis as well as through public programs and events that utilized educational materials that the participants developed.

Potential long-term outcomes of this project include the development of a cohort of agriculture service providers that feel comfortable asking for assistance from each other as they tackle the educational needs of their poultry keeping clientele. This cohesive group plans to continue the list serve to be able to quickly ask and respond to questions of each other. They also have developed a slide library that can be utilized to develop client based programs on poultry care.  They continue to seek ways to stay in touch and expand their educational expertise to other species of livestock that many are currently assisting clientele.

Future Recommendations

This project continued to make significant impact on the ability of agriculture service providers to expand their knowledge and skills in applied poultry science. Now this small cohort of providers see the benefit of coming together to focus on upgrading their skills and knowledge in other livestock subject areas so they can better serve the other livestock farmers of their state.

Information Products

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.