Integrating Free Range Poultry with Ruminant and Agroforestry Production in a Systems Approach

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2010: $210,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: Southern
State: Arkansas
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Anne Fanatico
Appalachian State University

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Additional Plants: native plants
  • Animals: poultry, bovine, goats, sheep


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, housing, parasite control, free-range, grazing management, grazing - multispecies, range improvement, grazing - rotational
  • Crop Production: agroforestry
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Energy: solar energy
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, agricultural finance
  • Natural Resources/Environment: habitat enhancement
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life


    In ecological poultry production, using a pasture resource effectively can be key to sustainability.

    Research showed that alternative feeding systems for poultry, including free-choice and choice, have advantages for poultry on pasture. Free-range poultry can also be integrated with grazing animals to provide access to extensive pasture and there may be benefits to both poultry and livestock in terms of pasture management, fertility, and possibly parasite management. The quality of forage is important for poultry; however, in this study, sericea lespedeza had no advantage in terms of parasite control for chickens. Artificial agroforestry structures in outdoor poultry areas increased the distance that poultry ranged from the poultry house in order to more evenly use the forage. When using mixed production herds, there is a concern about food safety. This research showed benefits of using the pasture resource and farm-raised feeds for free-range poultry production and integration with grazing animals. Outreach was conducted to make these results available to farming and scientific communities.

    Project objectives:

    1. Determine impact of integrating poultry with ruminant grazing on animal and poultry performance
    2. Determine impact of grazing poultry on high-protein forage and forage with condensed tannins on performance and parasite control
    3. Determine impact of grazing poultry under shelter/shade/roosts and feeding tree fodder for agroforestry systems
    4. Determine the nutrient content of poultry products due to integrating poultry with livestock production and agroforestry
    5. Conduct on-farm verification trials to determine the impact of practices developed

    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.