- Animals: poultry
- Animal Production: animal protection and health, feed management, manure management, parasite control, pasture fertility, rangeland/pasture management
- Education and Training: demonstration
- Farm Business Management: feasibility study
- Sustainable Communities: infrastructure analysis, quality of life, sustainability measures
The market for pastured poultry is steadily increasing, as illustrated by Perdue Farms entry into category. Even still, pastured poultry is still a niche dominated by small farmers. In order to scale to meet local and regional market demands and not be out competed by larger agribusinesses, smaller pastured poultry farmers need to find innovative ways to improve the efficiencies of their labor systems and production models. Our project aims to design and build a prototype for a mobile chicken coop equipped a fully automated feed system that can remain mobile in various terrains. This prototype seeks to bridge the gap between current labor intensive and/or expensive approaches that are available to small farmers and the higher level innovation happening at companies like Perdue, which rolled out a fully robotic mobile coop earlier this year. We plan to share our prototype and plans as open-source information, so farmers can easily download the plans for free and make adjustments and improvements to suit their farm. Our outreach strategy includes housing the plans to download on our website, as well as social media content that demonstrates the step by step construction and implementation of our prototype. We are confident that our prototype can ease labor burdens and grow out better birds, for an overall better bottom line for farmers. Our cost of production for the prototype with fully automated feed comes in at as similar cost to mobile greenhouse kits without feed or water.
Project objectives from proposal:
This project seeks to:
- Design and build a prototype for a streamlined, automated mobile poultry coop
- Document the step-by-step building of the prototype
- Create an open-source community conversation to share plans, experience, raise questions, and provide a platform for other farmers to take the prototype and improve on it
- Compare the prototype performance against our old houses – document and demonstrate chore time, labor efficiencies, production changes (bird health, grow out rates, feed efficiency)
We hope to develop and share tactics that make automating your pastured poultry operation possible and affordable, while also illustrating that automation can create impactful labor efficiencies and healthier birds. We hope it starts a conversation about innovation in pastured poultry approaches that is accessible.