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Raising poultry in pastures is catching on ... again.

Pastured poultry are becoming more common in the U.S., due to the flavor and nutritional aspects of the meat. The chickens are kept in field pens that are easily moved to fresh pasture daily and are fed non-medicated feed. The farmers capture profits by adding value through on-farm slaughter and direct marketing to local customers.

Pastured poultry allow farmers to start small and gradually increase their flocks without going into debt. The poultry fertilize the pastures and integrate well with other livestock. However, it is labor-intensive, and profits won't be high for small-scale startups.

Thirty-five Southern farm families participated in a project to produce and market pastured poultry sponsored by the Heifer Project International and the National Center for Appropriate Technology.

From 1996 to 1999 the farmers were educated in pen-building, brooding, feeding, processing, marketing, legal matters, economics, and a host of other topics.

Marketing the birds wasn't a problem says Kentucky farmers Albert and Sheila Baker. "This year we plan on growing at least 200 chickens. Most people, once they tasted our chicken, placed orders for more."

A major bottleneck for the range poultry industry is lack of access to government-inspected processing facilities. Large poultry companies don't serve independent growers, making government-inspected mobile processing units an option.

Lack of business training is also a problem for many farmers. Business planning, feasibility work and marketing plans are crucial.

For a free copy of "Pastured Poultry," call ATTR, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Central time, Monday through Thursday), at (800) 346-9140.

The American Pastured Poultry Producers Association has a current membership of 400 people and publishes a quarterly newsletter called Grit! To join the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association, send $20 to: APPPA, c/o Diane Kaufman, 5207 70th St., Chippewa Falls, WI 54729; ph (715) 723-2293;

Heifer Project International is an international non-profit corporation dedicated to community development through sustainable livestock production. Visit their website at.

RELATED ARTICLE: Why did the chicken sit at the border?

The US will implement a $ 300 million plan to improve antiterrorism efforts along the US-Canadian border with an elaborate network of surveillance cameras.

Meanwhile, Canada has announced its own plan. More than 600 chickens in coops will be stationed along 1,550 miles of the US-Canadian border from Saskatchewan to the Atlantic to protect itself from an expected onslaught of mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus.

The virus infects mostly birds, however it killed seven people and made 46 others ill in New York state last year. Scientists will check the blood of the chickens every week, and if the virus shows up, they know the disease has crossed the border.

The fear is that animal-rights activists will tamper with the coops, so the exact number and location of the fowl is top secret.

"The virus infects chickens, but it doesn't kill them. People needn't worry," states a Health Canada spokeswoman.
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Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Sep 1, 2000
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