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Raising poultry on pasture

A common way to raise pastured poultry involves putting 75
to 100 three- to four-week old meat chickens in movable pens during the growing
season. These floorless 10′
by 12′ by 2′ pens are moved daily by sliding them
along the ground, providing fresh pasture. Chickens also receive a grain-based
ration. At 8-14 weeks, the chickens are butchered and sold to consumers or

Why pastured poultry?

  • Low capital investment
  • Can start small and grow
  • Strong demand
  • Potential for extra farm income
  • Can be run by one person
  • Kids can help
  • Provides sustainably produced meat
  • Chickens build soil fertility
  • Chickens attract customers for
    other products

With a grant from the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research
(SARE), the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) studied five farms
(four in Wisconsin and one in Minnesota) using the pastured poultry method
described above. Their report provides annual gross and net returns per bird
from pastured poultry, the amount of time a pastured poultry operation takes,
and other business issues.

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