Small-Scale Poultry Production: Sustainability Training

2005 Annual Report for ES05-080

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2005: $129,530.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Region: Southern
State: Kentucky
Principal Investigator:
Steven Muntz
Heifer International

Small-Scale Poultry Production: Sustainability Training


A project team composed of Heifer International field and learning center staff, NCAT specialists, farmers, and University of Arkansas research and extension personnel developed and carried out a comprehensive training in pastured poultry (in Perryville, Arkansas) for over 50 participants, most of whom were farmer-educators. A pre and post workshop evaluation tool was developed and utilized indicating that both content and format of the workshop were highly effective. Web-based materials developed from this training are available on the National Center for Appropriate Technology’s newly updated Sustainable Poultry Website. Planning for shorter versions of the training in Kentucky and Mississippi are underway.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Objective 1: Design a training program in sustainable poultry production for use in training educators in small commercial poultry production.

Objective 2: Increase agricultural educator knowledge and skills to train small-scale poultry producers by providing sustainable poultry production training and encourages supportive attitudes towards small poultry growers.

Objective 3: Develop web-based sustainable poultry production education modules as an ongoing resource for educators in order to add small-scale poultry to their programs.


A project team composed of Heifer International field and learning center staff, NCAT specialists, farmers and University of Arkansas research and extension personnel developed a three day comprehensive training program for farmer-educators. Announcements regarding the training were sent out to extension and NRCS personnel in Arkansas and Texas and registration forms were posted on NCAT’s Sustainable Poultry website. The training program was carried out in October of 2005 at the 1200 acre Heifer International Learning Center, providing the unique combination of conference facilities and integrated farming systems in one location. Over 50 participants learned about the various range and pastured systems currently in use, broiler production, turkey production, egg production, health and biosecurity, processing and food safety, regulatory issues, marketing issues, business and feasibility planning, consumer needs, community opportunities and resources for pastured poultry producers. Recent concerns with Avian Bird flu made the timing of this training and the training topic of biosecurity particularly appropriate.

The training involved a mixture of classroom presentation, producer case studies and on-farm activities, including processing. Much of the training was producer led which was a critical component of bringing a real face to pastured poultry production. The mobile processing unit developed in Kentucky was displayed and explained providing insight into how one state has been addressing a lack of processing facilities. Existing materials developed from previously funded SARE projects were utilized and distributed for this meeting. These included Small-Scale Poultry Processing, Growing Your Range Poultry Business: An Entrepreneur’s Toolbox, What Bird Shall I Raise?, and Pastured Poultry Nutrition. The workshop was videotaped for future reference.

The mix of participants included nine (9) Heifer International Field staff, seventeen (17) extension personnel from 1862 Land-Grant Universities, six (6) extension personnel from 1890 Land-Grant Universities, the Executive Director of the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association, two NCAT Technical Specialists, Winrock International staff, American Livestock Breeds Conservancy staff and fourteen (14) farmers, some of whom participated in conjunction with their local extension agent.

A pre and post-training evaluation tool was developed and utilized for the training to establish a baseline of subject understanding prior to the training and gauge any increase in understanding or change in attitude as a result of the training. All participants received a CD of all electronic presentations made at the workshop. The project team held a meeting after the Arkansas training to debrief and begin planning for additional events.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology updated their Sustainable Poultry website ( making it more user-friendly. Web-based training materials developed from the training have been posted on the website.

Since the October training, smaller teams in Kentucky, Mississippi and Texas have been planning shorter versions of the Arkansas training for their own states.

Additional work yet to accomplish includes carrying out further educator trainings in Kentucky and Mississippi as well as farmer trainings in Kentucky, Mississippi and Texas. NCAT will develop additional web-based training materials. Selected materials will be translated into Spanish.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Interest, knowledge, usefulness, and interest in future related activity was evaluated in general and for the specific topics covered in the Arkansas workshop. A scale of 1 to 3 was used, with “1” indicating little interest, knowledge, or usefulness; “2” indicating some interest, knowledge, or usefulness; and “3” indicating a great deal of interest, knowledge or usefulness. 36 training participants returned both pre- and post-training evaluation forms. The training was highly evaluated by participants, and it appears that both content and format was effective overall. Overall, all topic sessions covered in this training were rated as being very useful to participants. However, it appears that some topics could be better presented in order to be more useful. These include small-scale processing, meeting consumer needs, feasibility, and business planning, regulations for meat and eggs, and community involvement.

Overall, this training seems to have been effective in increasing both interest and knowledge of small-scale and alternative poultry production and marketing. Interest in small-scale poultry production received an average score of 2.16 before the training, compared to an average score of 2.77 after the training. The average post-training score for interest in follow-up events of 2.73, however, did not change from the already high pre-training levels of interest (2.73). Participants ranked their knowledge of specific topics covered in the training, and average scores were higher for every topic after the training. Greatest increases in knowledge of specific topics after the training was seen in the areas of health and biosecurity issues, eggs, small-scale processing, direct and indirect marketing, and alternative poultry production systems in general.

There is now an expanded availability of web-based training materials for use by farmer educators that can be downloaded directly from NCAT’s Sustainable Poultry website. This includes the topics of (1) Alternative Poultry Production, (2) Breeders, Layers and Hatching Egg Production, (3) Consumer Issues, (4) Direct Marketing of Pastured Poultry, (5) Food Safety: Microbiology, Sanitation and HAACP, (6) Organic Poultry: Markets and Production, (7) Poultry Nutrition and Feeding, (8) Range Poultry Entrepreneurship, (9) Range Production and Bird Health, (10) Small-Scale Table Egg Quality and Processing, (11) Specialty and Small-Scale Poultry Processing, and (12) Specialty Breeds for Natural and Organic Poultry Production.

Several other direct and indirect impacts have occurred as a result of this training. Heifer Field Staff from Mississippi indicate that they are seeing greater interest and support from Mississippi extension personnel in assisting with pastured poultry efforts in the state. Two farmers who participated in the training connected with a Mississippi processor who made presentations at the training and the farmers now raise poultry in conjunction with the processor. An extension participant from Auburn University in Alabama is hosting a small livestock conference in the spring of 2006 that includes pastured poultry as a primary component. A farmer participant from Alabama has gone on to write a SARE producer grant to investigate specialty breeds for pastured poultry.

One Kentucky State University presenter/participant in the Arkansas training utilized much of his increased understanding of pastured poultry in a full day on-farm training held at the KSU research farm in conjunction with the Southern SAWG conference. The tour was double booked and over 80 farmers participated in the event.

This training also represents a milestone in communication between the conventional poultry industry and the pastured poultry industry. The University of Arkansas has worked extensively with the conventional poultry industry and this event emphasizes an additional effort on their part to reach out to smaller scale commercial producers. The dynamic of a training that includes people with more of a conventional poultry background in addition to those with a more alternative approach created a significant opportunity for cross learning and understanding.


Ginger Deason

[email protected]
Coastal Plains Field Coordinator
Heifer International
2319 Stevens Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27610
Gus Heard-Hughes

[email protected]
Alabama Field Coordinator
Heifer International
2106 2nd Avenue
Irondale , AL 35210
Office Phone: 2059560088
Anne Fanatico

[email protected]
Research Associate/Graduate Student
University of Arkansas
Center for Excellence in Poultry Science
126o West Maple Street
Fayetteville, AR 72701
Office Phone: 4792633950
Steve Schrock

[email protected]
Cackleberry Farms
10107 Prairie Mills Road
Prairie, MS 39756
Office Phone: 6623694151
Frank Jones

[email protected]
Extension Poultry Specialist, Section Leader
University of Arkansas
Center for Excellence in Poultry Science
1260 West Maple St.
Fayetteville, AR 72701
Office Phone: 4795757118
Holly Born

[email protected]
Programs Specialist
National Center for Appropriate Technology
53020 Hitchcock Avenue
Lewis, IA 51544
Office Phone: 7127692604
Michael Ashanti

[email protected]
Heifer International
1004 Porter Street
Helena, AR 72342
Office Phone: 5012556955
Rhonda Everman

[email protected]
Heifer International
25 Sterling Way, Suite A
Mt. Sterling, KY 40353
Office Phone: 8594970603
Jeff Dombroskas

[email protected]
Appalachia Field Coordinator
Heifer International
2425 Greer Lane
Mt. Sterling, KY 40353
Office Phone: 8594970742
Matt John

[email protected]
Shady Lane Poultry Farm
520 Agawam Rd.
Winchester, KY 40391
Office Phone: 8597372636
Craig Hertel

[email protected]
Blackwater Farms
RR1, Box 269
Daleville, MS 39326
Office Phone: 6015275143
Mike Walters

[email protected]
Walters Hatchery
Office Phone: 9187783535
Jesse Strassburg

[email protected]
Heifer International
302 South Bolivar
Cleveland, MS 38732
Office Phone: 6628433870
Mike Everett

[email protected]
Southwest Field Coordinator
Heifer International
POB 86
Cactus, TX 79013
Office Phone: 8069664112
Tom Dierolf

[email protected]
Heifer International
212 S. Broad St., Ste C
Brevard, NC 2871
Office Phone: 8288625534