There has been an increase interest in raising poultry on pasture. It must remembered, however, that poultry are not cows. Cows are ruminants meaning they have a rumen as part of their digestive tract. It is the microbes found in this rumen that allow for the digestion of grass and other pasture materials. Poultry are non-ruminant (refered to as monogastric) and therefore do not have the help of these microbes. Poultry are able to utilize some of the nutrients in pastures, but the amount will depend on the management of the pasture.
Introduction to pasture-raised poultry: Getting Started (University of Florida)
Pasturing poultry: A viable option for the small-scale farmer (Backyard Poultry magazine)
Profitable Poultry: Raising birds on pasture (USDA-SARE)
Large-scale pastured poultry farming in the U.S. (Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems)
Raising poultry on pasture (Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems)
Pastured poultry study addresses broad range of issues - Research brief #46 (Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems)
Pastured poultry in an integrated food production system (Florida A&M University)
Pasture poultry industry - Alberta's (Canada) Department of Agriculture Information Services
Pasture poultry production: An evaluation of its sustainability in Hawaii - College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resrouces, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Sustainable poultry (range production) overview - Kerr Center
Economic feasibility of producing pasture poultry for limited resource farmers in southeastern North Carolina - Econpapers: Proceedings from the 2008 annual meeting of the Southern Agricultural Economics Association
Small-scale pastured poultry grazing system for egg production (University of Hawai'i at Manoa)
How to raise heritage turkeys on pasture: Pasturing turkeys (American Livestock Breeds Conservancy)
How to raise heritage turkeys on pasture: Protecting heritage turkeys from predators (American Livestock Breeds Conservancy)
See also: Plants poisonous to poultry
See also: Marketing
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.
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