Membership in APPPA is a valuable tool for managing poultry on this farm.
Our flocks are small, but the topics shared on the Yahoo group site, weekly podcast and bi-monthly magazine supply solid information to support planning. APPPA members share their feed costs per bird, seed mixes for side by side pasture trials, and techniques for handling predators and weather variables.
Let's face it, if you buy chicken or duck from me, you pay a premium for the certified organic grain and the labor of keeping the birds clean and healthy on pasture.Until my customer base increases and I have a more efficiently sized flock, it will be hard to drop prices. That said, I feel an obligation to my customers to make flock management choices that keep my operating costs as low as possible while optimizing poultry health and welfare. Last season, when I decided to try a non-Cornish Cross hybrid, I went to my APPPA Grit magazine to compare the data on the different meat bird breeds when selecting a hatchery.
The discussions about all those labels (organic, certified organic, transitional organic, soy-free, GMO-free, conventional, humanely-raised, locally raised, heritage breeds, Cornish Cross, Red Rangers, to name only some topics customers are interested in) is open and respectful. The conversations about choosing breed, feed and management style is balanced with realistic business planning.
If you are considering buying your poultry from a smaller producer, now is a good time to contact a farmer since many farms are finalizing their production and pricing schedules. Most small farmers that I know are interested in what you are hoping to buy.
Here's a few things you might want to ask your farmer:
- what kind of feed to you use and why?
- where do you source your feed and chicks?
- if the poultry is raised pasture pens, what is the square footage per bird in the pen?
- if the poultry is day ranged, how often are the paddocks moved?
- what options do you the customer,have in the cutting order,packaging and pick up schedule
The time you invest in finding a small poultry producer will have a very delicious return.