We see an opportunity to create an updated pastured poultry resource that can be used in conjunction with the work that already exists. We would like to close the above information gaps and equip farmers with the information necessary to create a pastured poultry operation that can thrive in today’s economic and cultural landscapes.
We envision a 30-40 page PDF guide titled 21st-Century Pastured Poultry that is:
- Based on thorough, primary research methods, not second-hand information or anecdotal evidence Includes data from contemporary pastured poultry producers used to assess the modern trends of the industry
- Details a system that is relevant to commercial-scale farmers, combining financial feasibility with humane and sustainable practices
- Presents a comprehensive management system, detailing all major aspects of production including brooding, housing, feeding, disease mitigation and management, processing, and marketing Includes complete start-up and operating budgets
- Illustrates replicable building plans for mobile chicken tractors in an easy-to-follow format Is made available through extensive outreach, including both online sources and in-person demonstrations and workshops.
We’ll also answer that initial question from our summary: Is Joel Salatin’s promise of 25k in 6 months on 20 acres still possible in 2018? If so, what does an effective model look like today?
This past summer, our livestock manager, was rereading Pastured Poultry Profits in preparation for this grant proposal. The book was lying on a table in our farm’s pack shed when one of our crew members picked it up and said aloud, “20 grand in 6 months? Maybe that made sense in 1990…”
Here, in this offhanded comment, lies the most important problem: that the single most available resource in pastured poultry management was written more than two decades ago. In the 1990s, the American agricultural, economic, and culinary landscapes looked vastly different than their contemporary counterparts do. For example, today, pasturable land is scarcer and more costly, “Big Organic” has filled our grocery stores with deceptive marketing creating a more confusing landscape for the consumer, a still palpable economic recession has changed the way many Americans spend their money, and new, ever-changing food trends are keeping modern day producers on their toes. Throughout all of these changes and more, no comprehensive resources on the business of pastured poultry has been written to address the vastly different landscape in which new producers are working.
The purpose of this project is to create a comprehensive resource for farmers seeking to develop, expand or improve a pastured poultry enterprise in the 21st century. Using Joel Salatin’s Pastured Poultry Profits as our guide, we’ve set forth to produce an updated enterprise guide that takes into account subsequently discovered improvements, contemporary production costs and current market trends in hopes that the update will provide the information necessary to develop operations that can survive and thrive in modern economic and cultural landscapes.
Letterbox Farm Collective is a diversified market farm wrapping up its fifth year of operation. The business is owned and operated by Nichki Carangelo, Laszlo Lazar, and Faith Gilbert. Cumulatively, the owners have 18 years of farming experience in a diversity of enterprises. This season, we will have raised 3 acres of diversified specialty vegetables, 2,800 heritage breed meat birds, 300 pastured rabbits, 300 pastured laying hens, and 20 pastured pigs, which were distributed through restaurant accounts, high-volume farmer's markets, and a full-diet CSA membership. Our gross sales are anticipated to reach $250,000. Our management team includes:
Nichki Carangelo: Nichki is a full-time, sixth-year farmer who manages livestock at Letterbox
Farm. She is a graduate of Holistic Management International’s Beginning Women Farmer Training Program and has extensive research training from her undergraduate program at Sarah Lawrence College. She is also the author of NE-SARE resource Pastured Rabbit for Profit and a board
member of the Hudson Valley Coalition.
The purpose of this project is to create a comprehensive resource for farmers seeking to develop, expand or improve a pastured poultry enterprise in the 21st century. Using Joel Salatin’s Pastured Poultry Profits as my guide, I’ve set forth to produce an updated enterprise guide that takes into account subsequently discovered improvements, contemporary production costs and current market trends in hopes that the update will provide the information necessary to develop operations that can survive and thrive in modern economic and cultural landscapes.
This past season has been focused on collecting important data from our own pastured poultry enterprise. As a result, I have immaculate records of production and sales. From this, I have determined the cost of production per animal, average feed conversion, labor expenditures, average income per bird and average profit per bird. This year, our income from this enterprise was approximately $54,000. Our cost of production was approximately $37,000. Our poultry enterprise thus operated at a 31% margin, yielding a net profit of $17,000.
This is within striking distance of Joel Salatin’s promised $20,000 annual net profit, and with a few necessary changes gleaned from this year’s results I do believe we will attain the required $3,000 increase in 2019. Next year, we will also be consulting with 4 other pastured poultry producers to obtain case studies useful for concluding whether our results are average or unique. We will also collect feed conversion, marketability and cost of production information from a batch of cornish cross chickens, so the data can be shared in juxtaposition with that from the red broilers we use in production.