Feeding and lighting practices on small-scale extensive pastured poultry commercial farms in the United States


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As commercial free-range and pastured poultry production has gained increased popularity in the United States in recent years, there is a greater need to understand basic husbandry practices including feeding and lighting practices. Because husbandry practices vary greatly between individual commercial pastured poultry and free-range operations, gaining knowledg eacross a wide cross-section of producers is necessary to better understand current practices. Specifically, be-cause feed is considered the most expensive part of poul-try production with respect to operating cost, in collaboration with the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association, an on-line survey of commercial freerange and pastured poultry producers was conducted aimed primarily at evaluating feeding and lighting practices.Data were collected from 14 commercial pastured (n =13) and free-range (n = 1) producers (6 broiler, 1 layer,and 7 broiler/layer facilities) across 9 U.S. states. Re-sults showed that these operations most commonly use Cornish Cross for broiler production and ISA Brown and Austra lorp for egg production. Only 1 of the 14farms calculates feed conversion ratio on a monthly basis. Estimates of Hen Month Egg Production (HMEP)resulted in HMEP percentages that were over 100% in 6of the 7 farms that provided data. 5 of the 7 farms that have layers used supplemental lighting but do not use alux meter. These lack of data reflect an important challenge with this segment of the poultry industry. Extension based outreach focused on enabling data collection and record-keeping and analysis are necessary. Despite its small sample size, this study’s results provide some valuable insights with respect to feeding equipment and the current state of data collection for this segment of the poultry industry.

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