Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Book: Pastured Poultry Profits

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By Joel Salatin

Read this book through in almost one sitting. It's written by a farmer in Virginia. His family runs Polyface Farm. He raises, harvests, and sells thousands of chickens every summer.

This book is a handbook on how to pasture (grass-raise) chickens. I read it through in one sitting because it was not slick or professionally edited. It was professionally organized and chock-full of information but it was obviously written by someone who had gone through this first-hand. The examples and experiences he shared pulled me in and kept me reading until the end. Even the appendices with his farms newsletters were interesting to someone looking at the "whole picture", the whole farm.

He does not have his chickens free-range. He keeps them in pens that he moves around the pasture every day. He explains his feeding, watering, and pen construction (including problem shooting) in detail. Since free-range is not a possibility where we live (active, aggressive predation), this was necessary for me.

He uses Cornish Cross chickens, the breed bred for the factory farms. I'm emotionally attached to using heritage breeds. I will have to raise some of each the first year and see which breed I get financially attached to. I think that a well-chosen heritage breed could compete well with the 'traditional' Cornish Cross.

He included a few chapters (one chapter, one appendix) on turkeys, which is what I want to focus on raising first. At the time of writing, he had not added turkeys to his farm yet. I'm sure he has by now. Turkeys take longer to hit mature weight, but you can charge more for the meat.

I will have to check on the legal requirements in our area for selling chickens. The government is so strict about small farms and food sold from those farms, that this might be an issue for us...

This book was a fantastic addition to our library and one that I'll read over and over as my husband and I plan our income-producing farm. For now, it's headed over to a friend's house. She already raises chickens and because of the increased profit for grass-raised chickens, she's looking into how to do that on her place.


Danielle said...

I've been experimenting with a couple different heritage dual purpose breeds and have really come to prefer the taste. This year we tried raising slow cornish x's, which take twice as long as industry x's to grow out, suffer no health problems that I've seen, and do wonderfully on pasture. They're larger than the heritage breeds, which is a plus, and taste better than store-bought, but still not as full-bodied a flavor as the heritage birds, in my opinion.

Thanks so much, btw, for the Dexter info over at my blog—I really appreciate it!

Christy said...

I was looking at this book last night and thinking about getting it. I want to raise chickens and turkeys. I'll have to get the book and read it.