The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of two different housing types on the performance on a slow growing broiler and a fast growing broiler. The two housing types that we examined were a daily move, floorless coop and day range house with pasture enclosed by electronet fencing. We found that the type of housing did have an effect on the growth rate of fast growing broilers, specifically that the day range system gave males that grew faster and larger than the females while the daily move system had more uniformity between the sexes. We did not find any difference in the performance of slow growing birds between the two systems but believe this is due to continued optimization that needs to occur in the genetics of the slow-growing variety of bird we used for this study. There were differences between the housing systems as they relate to labor requirements, carcass quality, mortality rates, and environmental impact. This project helped us more clearly define the benefits and drawbacks to the two systems. At our farm, we found that there was a clear economic driver to utilize one system over the other.
This study provided us with an opportunity to critically evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of the systems we were using at our facility. Based on our findings, we will implement several changes to best leverage our own personal situation. Labor costs on our farm are very high while the availability of quality forage is limited. As such, we will implement the use of day range systems to minimize labor and maximize usable space. We recognize that this will result in a higher mortality rate due to aerial predation and result in a less uniform product size. Given that we are a small operation and do not need to utilize an all-in/all-out strategy, we can selectively harvest birds that meet our criteria. We are able to locate our day range houses in close proximity to our garden, thus removing the necessity of clearing and reseeding the bedding from the range house. Bedding can easily be moved over into a compost pile for use in the garden. We will also be able to put ruminants on the poultry area immediately after harvest. However, we will lose the fertilization power of the broilers in a daily move system.