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Egg production for turkeys

Agriculture.com Staff 03/24/2011 @ 10:45am

Home-raised, home-processed poultry is becoming a popular alternative farm enterprise. The scale of operation may be small; only a dozen or twenty broilers raised in one’s back-yard for home consumption, or up to several thousand broilers. Note: Kansas state law allows producers to home process up to 1,000 birds per year for direct marketing to the consumer. More than that must be processed with state or federally inspectors present. Call the Kansas Department of Agriculture meat and poultry inspection program at: (785) 296-3513 for specific information.

With the proper information, individuals may raise and process broilers using simple equipment, and achieve results with no more food safety risk than broilers purchased at the supermarket. How- ever, each step in the process must be considered, and care taken to reduce risk, so that the final product is wholesome and safe. These steps are outlined below, with risk factors noted. The wise producer develops a written plan to address both prevention of diseases and infestation, as well as control measures to be used if necessary.

Some home-raised, home-processed birds are being raised according to certified organic standards, others are raised without the use of medicated feeds or antibiotics, but are not certified organic, and others are raised in varying conditions. Increased consumer demand, premium pricing, and personal preference are reasons for raising meat and eggs without antibiotics. Consult your organic certifier for specific details on guidelines that apply. Most certification standards require 100% certified organic feed and no use of antibiotics. Some allow vaccination; most allow mineral and vitamin additives. Diatomaceous earth and probiotics are allowed for parasite and disease control. Probiotics are fed to promote animal health by competing with pathogens or by improving digestion and nutrient absorption. Some poultry diseases are more difficult to control without the use of medicated feed or water, but it is possible to keep them at reduced levels. Good sanitation, protected (shaded) and clean pens, balanced rations, clean water, and starting with healthy chicks are good practices for all farms.

Part 1: Facilities

(Note: it is assumed that chicks from day 1 to about 3 weeks of age are raised in an enclosed, heated area with fresh food and water. Most of the guidelines below apply to birds that are at least 4 weeks of age, and either being raised as broilers or laying hens).

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