Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE04-529.
The Kosher King and Buff Orpingtons appear to be more resistant to disease and stresses caused by weather conditions. But due to the slower growth rate in these 2 breeds, the Cornish Cross remains the most economical to produce. These birds can be grown in a shorter time frame and are easiest to process, requiring less time to on the finishing table.
From this project it appears that forage consumption does not provide adequate nutrition to reduce supplemental grain intake. However, we did not test meat samples for nutritional value for human consumption. This step may add support to the value of grass-fed meat products thereby assisting farmer in marketing of their poultry. This may allow for increased price per pound off setting additional cost associated with labor and land resources needed in pasture pen or free range feeding systems.
Time required in care and feeding varied between farmers than between housing system. Management experience, facility lay out and distance from storage area had an impact on labor required. As anticipated pasture and free range systems require more time than confinement raised birds. The couple working with the free range group was new to this management system with added time required as they worked through the project.