Using foster mother hens to raise chicks on a diversified sustainable farm

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2008: $5,986.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Drew F. Piaschyk
Lamb's Quarters Organic Farm


  • Agronomic: corn, millet, potatoes, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Vegetables: beans, beets, broccoli, carrots, cucurbits, peas (culinary), peppers, tomatoes, turnips
  • Additional Plants: herbs, native plants, ornamentals
  • Animals: poultry


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, housing, animal protection and health, free-range, preventive practices
  • Crop Production: fallow, multiple cropping, nutrient cycling
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
  • Energy: energy conservation/efficiency, energy use
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, feasibility study, agricultural finance, risk management
  • Pest Management: physical control, mulching - plastic, row covers (for pests)
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: soil physics, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    Commercial poultry raising generally requires completely depopulating a batch of chickens at the end of a meat or egg production cycle, but there is anecdotal evidence that keeping broody hens through the next cycle has a positive effect on the growth and health of the next batch of chicks. The farmer will test this observation with a controlled trial in which some chicks are started in a brooder while others are raised with a foster hen, who can perhaps teach chicks to feed and forage more efficiently. The two groups will then be compared for live and dressed weights to find out if the differences are significant.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.