Performance and Quality of Pasture-raised Poultry: Label Rouge - Type

2003 Annual Report for GS03-029

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2003: $9,940.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2005
Region: Southern
State: Arkansas
Major Professor:
Dr. Anne Fanatico
Appalachian State University

Performance and Quality of Pasture-raised Poultry: Label Rouge - Type


There is a growing grassroots movement for raising poultry on pasture. Small independent producers report a good local market and are interested in expansion. Some are organizing into small companies, trying out year-round production, and supplying larger, regional markets. Producers claim that pasture-raised poultry tastes better and has superior nutritional qualities compared to conventional poultry, but it is important to scientifically evaluate the differences between pasture-raised and conventional poultry products. Surprisingly, small producers use conventional genetics developed for the commercial broiler industry, since they are the only commercial breed available in the U.S. Europe is the leader in specialty, slow-growing poultry genetics developed for outdoor production (“Label Rouge”-type). The goal of this project is to study a pasture-raised poultry system and genetic cross that may be appropriate for production on small farms. This in turn may contribute to rural development. This project will compare field performance and carcass quality of pasture-raised birds to conventional birds, as well as comparing industry genetics to slow-growing genetics for outdoor production. Diets typically used to support fast and slow rates of gain will also be examined. Evaluating specialty pasture-raised poultry products could help small producers with production systems and marketing efforts. The use of appropriate genetics would be expected to improve production and further differentiate the product in the marketplace.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Compare the performance and carcass quality of birds raised on pasture to confinement-raised birds, using a production system that is likely to be the most applicable for small poultry producers

Compare the performance and carcass quality of specialty genetics and standard Cornish Cross genetics in pasture-based poultry production

Compare the performance and carcass quality of birds raised on pasture and confinement with diets that support a fast rate of gain and a slow rate of gain


The timeline has been modified because the free-range research unit could not be developed according to the original timeline. An innovative range poultry research/demonstration unit has now been designed and is under construction. Birds will be raised in late summer ’04.