- Animals: poultry
- Animal Production: animal protection and health, housing
Small scale family farms in Western North Carolina (WNC) need more opportunities for diversification. Pastured poultry is a relatively low-risk, low-investment enterprise that can be easily integrated into an existing crop or livestock system. Western North Carolina is not know for poultry production, but as more consumers demand pasture raised meats more small-to mid size farmers are presented with new opportunities. One significant barrier to poultry production in WNC is the lack of infrastructure to process animals. A group of local farmers has recently formed the Independent Small Animal Meat Producers Association of Western North Carolina (ISAMPA-WNC) and has filed for incorporation as a non-profit organization. Current and potential poultry producers need the opportunity to see birds in all stages of production, to have access to comprehensive production records, engage in pen building, daily chores and on-farm processing. As owners and operators of Crooked Creek Farms we have had four successful years of experience in raising pastured poultry and would like to share our experiences to educate and encourage other farmers in the region. As farmers we are looking forward to increasing poultry production in the coming years with the prospect of a new processing facility in the area. We also recognize that some smaller producers will want to process on farm under the inspection exemption. There is clearly a need for education about production, the opportunities with a local processing facility and the merits of on-farm processing to help meet consumer demand, support the processing facility and move towards a more sustainable local food system. In the coming year we would like produce approximately 450 Cornish Cross broilers in portable pens over the course of the warm season from mid- May to late October. To provide education opportunities we would hold 2 workshops, giving participants an in-depth look at the production system from brooding through pen construction, daily maintenance, processing, breeds, feeds, different production systems and marketing. A final 1.5 hour session at the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association's annual conference in the late fall will conclude the project.