Pasture Perfect, LLC (dba Pasture Perfect Poultry) is a partnership of three farms in the Mason, WI area. The three farms (Great Oak, Wild Hollow, and Vranes) had been producing and selling chickens and turkeys independently. In 2008, they entered into a formal partnership to cooperatively market and process chickens and turkeys under the Pasture Perfect Poultry brand. Each farm is currently raising 600-800 poultry per year with nearly 1600 processed on the farms using a processing trailer built and owned by Pasture Perfect. The birds are direct marketed to customers in Ashland and Bayfield County, WI. The poultry are raised with the day-range pastured poultry system as described in the research bulletin and how-to manual. In addition to poultry, each farm is engaged in other farming practices including pastured lamb and pork, vegetables, eggs, fruit, and/or hazelnuts.
Pasture Perfect Poultry has been using sustainable practices since its beginning in 2008. The poultry are raised on pasture to cycle nutrients and provide a healthy diet and humane conditions for the birds. The birds are fed Transitional grain to support farmers shifting to organic grain production. Processing is done cooperatively with each member farm helping the other farms on processing days. Interns and community members are regularly involved in the processing to help them learn where their food comes from. Offal from the processing is composted and returned to the vegetable plots on the farm. The poultry is sold direct to customers within 30 miles from the farms.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS
This project was conducted at Wild Hollow Farm and Great Oak Farm with support from Vranes Farm. The project is described in detail in the How-To Manual and the Research Bulletin publications and won’t be repeated here.
We hope other pastured poultry producers will consider implementing research projects of their own using the research protocol we have developed. It is a relatively cheap and easy to implement program that can yield valuable research data to advance the pastured-poultry industry.
Being able to feed the poultry one time per day in the Day-Range system would save one visit to the poultry, which depending on the number of birds being raised, can easily be 0.5 to 1.0 hours per day. Over the 4 week pasture grow-out period this equates to up to 28 hours saved. Multiplied by an hourly wage of $12 per hour, feeding one-time per day could save up to $336 per batch of birds. Although the results were not consistent across all four batches tested, the once-per-day feeding may even increase the performance of the birds. A 0.5 average weight increase was observed at one of the batches, which equates to an extra $1.40 of revenue per bird assuming a retail price of $2.85 per pound.
So, in addition to the economic, environmental, and social impacts of our project as indicated on the Farmer-Rancher Benefits and Impacts form, our project demonstrates very real economic benefits.
Perhaps, more importantly, the research protocol outlined in our project will allow poultry producers to refine the pastured poultry production system and assist in decision making. Land grant Universities are not currently conducting such research and this project provides a means for generating essential data on-farm.
The two primary outreach components of the project are the Research Bulletin produced by Jason Fischbach of Bayfield County UW-Extension in cooperation with Pasture Perfect and the How-To Manual produced by Pasture Perfect. The Research Bulletin was direct mailed to the Bayfield County UW-Extension mailing list and posted on their website. The How-To-Manual and Research Bulletin is available on the Pasture Perfect Website and will be sent to the American Pastured Poultry Association for possible dissemination through their newsletters. Chris Duke and Jason Fischbach have been invited to three regional conferences, so far, to report on this project and Pasture Perfect.
The program worked well for us. The reporting requirements are not overly burdensome and the program is very helpful for on-farm research.