Enhancing Feasibility for Range Poultry Expansion

1999 Annual Report for LS99-105

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1999: $175,740.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Region: Southern
State: Kentucky
Principal Investigator:
Steven Muntz
Heifer International

Enhancing Feasibility for Range Poultry Expansion


The production of poultry on pasture can contribute greatly to the development of vibrant and healthy regional food systems. There is strong and growing demand for birds raised locally without medications and in a wholesome, environmentally sound manner. In order to expand their enterprises, however, producers need improvements in feasibility assessment and processing infrastructure. This is important because farmers often focus primarily on production without adequately addressing economic feasibility and marketing.

1.) Develop a Feasibility Study Toolbox and Template
2.) Improve infrastructure in terms of processing, nutritional and feed resources, and the quality of poultry stock for range production

In order to have some baseline information about producer’s situations, current production, processing and marketing practices, a questionnaire was developed and included in two newsletters, APPPA Grit (publication of the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association) and Range Poultry Forum (publication of the Resilience Institute). One hundred responses were collected. 48% of respondents were full time farmers. 82% of respondents want to expand their poultry production, but only modestly. Only 5% want to expand beyond 10,000 broilers per year. Forty eight percent of respondents produced from 1-500 birds per year, with 21% producing over 1,000 per year. 73% of responding producers processed their birds directly on the farm, but 62% are dissatisfied with current processing labor requirements and 64% are dissatisfied with regulations and their interpretation. 80% of responding producers listed direct marketing as their number one method of marketing.

If expanding, 40% indicated that they would do a feasibility study and 48% would do a marketing study. A full survey summary is available from the NCAT/ATTRA program in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
With this information for a guide, efforts are currently under way to develop the feasibility study toolbox and template. In developing these tools, staff from the Kerr Center and ATTRA are working closely with farmers. Completion of the first draft of these tools is expected in early 2001. The tools will then be evaluated by a number of individuals, including farmers, and will be revised accordingly. The final version is expected to be ready by early in 2002.

Progress on the second objective has been mixed. First, regarding infrastructure for processing. In Kentucky a mobile processing unit (MPU) has been built and tested. The process of bringing all the stakeholders to the table (USDA, State Health Department, Farmers, Universities, NGO’s, etc.) as well as developing the unit itself has been an extraordinary learning experience in numerous ways. The Kentucky MPU is planned to be state certified for sale of products anywhere in Kentucky. The facility is not yet approved for use, but has generated much interest and publicity. Progress on MPU’s in Alabama and Mississippi has not been good. Meetings and discussions with state and federal officials were not encouraging and there is not a sufficient critical mass of interested farmers and consumers to push the issue further. Because of this we have abandoned the plan of building mobile processing units in Alabama and Mississippi and have requested that funds designated for this purpose be applied toward improving existing facilities in those states to enhance marketing options.

Work on developing a summary of laws regarding on-farm processing of poultry in all 50 states is nearly completed. Research to determine all inspected processing plants in the Southern SARE region which provide custom poultry slaughter for independent producers is completed and is being formatted. Research on sources of reliable poultry stock and appropriate breeds for pastured poultry has been completed and is being formatted. Research on nutrition and feed sources is currently in progress.


Anne Fanatico

NCAT Agriculture Specialist
PO Box 3657
Fayetteville, AR 72702
Office Phone: 5014429824
Website: www.attra.ncat.org
David Redhage

Natural Resources Economist
The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture
PO Box 588
Poteau, OK 74953
Office Phone: 9186479123
Website: www.kerrcenter.com
Marion Simon

State Specialist for Small Farm and Part Time Farm
Kentucky State University
400 East Main
Frankfort, KY 40601
Office Phone: 5025976437
Holly Born

NCAT Agriculture Specialist
PO Box 3657
Fayetteville, AR 72702
Office Phone: 5014429824
Website: www.attra.ncat.org