POULTRY PRODUCTION IN SMALL AND BACKYARD FLOCKS

Urban poultry

Raising chickens in the city is becoming more popular. Both the pros and cons should be considered before choosing to keep chickens in your backyard. If you plan on getting chickens as pets with benefits (i.e., eggs), you need to consider what you are going to do with them when they are no longer laying - because they won't keep laying indefinitely.

Urban poultry (eXtension.org/poultry)

Small poultry production flocks

An increasing number of small- and medium-sized farm owners are looking at poultry as a source of income. While they cannot compete with the large poultry companies, they are well suited to meet the growing niche market for pasture and/or organic poultry products. There has also been an increased interest in using heritage poultry breeds within a pasture-based system.

Brooding young hatchlings

Egg production - Chickens

Egg production - Ducks

Meat production - Chickens

Meat production - Ducks

Turkeys

Geese

Budgeting for poultry production

Pasture poultry

While chickens are not cows, they can get some nutrition from a properly managed pasture. Pasture poultry is a growing niche market for producers looking alternative poultry production systems.

Ducks and geese can typically get more of their nutritional requirements from pasture than chickens can. This is not due to better digestive of pasture but increased pasture consumption. With more material being consumed, more material is excreted. They can create a large mess of feathers and manure.

An acre of pasture will support 20-40 geese, depending on the quality of the pasture. Geese are excellent foragers. By 5-6 weeks of age they should be able to get a large portion of their nutrient intake from pasture material. They do not like alfalfa or narrowed-leaved tough grasses. Instead, they have a preference for clovers, bluegrass, orchard grass, timothy and bromegrass.

Exhibition poultry

There are hundreds of different breeds of chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese, the poultry species most commonly raised for show.

Poultry-related activities provide a wide range of learning opportunities for youth. There are several low cost poultry projects that require very little space, making them a suitable project for those interested in animal science but don’t have the resources to keep a cow, sheep or pig. There are also large-scale poultry projects (e.g., managing a breeding flock), but no matter the cost of the birds or the facilities used, they have the same learning value.

Producing turkeys for show (Texas A & M)

Selecting and preparing poultry for exhibition (Kansas State University)

Preparing poultry for show (University of Florida)

Exhibiting 4-H Poultry (University of Nebraska)

Manure Management

What ever type of poultry you raise, the one thing that you can guarantee you'll have is manure. Poultry do not take a lot of room, but they do produce a lot of poop that needs to be taken care of. Before starting any flock, make sure you have a plan for how to handle the resulting manure. Try thinking of it as an opportunity more than a waste production that has to be taken care.