Pastured Poultry News

  • Thu, December 07, 2017 1:59 PM | Anonymous

    Grady Phelan and Greg Gunthorp at 2017 Producers conference.Of all the things I like about the pastured poultry community, the diversity of business models is perhaps one of my favorites.

    In 2017, APPPA assembled a group of producers to have a meeting about pastured poultry. We primarily sought people who were “scaled up” or in the process of scaling up.

    Two things struck me coming out of that meeting. First, the idea of scale is ambiguous. Every person will have a different idea or a caveat.

    Second, was the diversity of business models, and this is my favorite thing. We had a producer in his retirement years cranking out a total of 3,000 broilers a year and loving life. His claims were more profit, better lifestyle, and an off-season, to name a few.

    He was turning each chicken into $30-$40 through a value-added product approach. He had been raising and selling poultry for something like 30 years. He did the scaled-up numbers thing through wholesale and retail outlets. Now, I guess you could say he was scaled up in experience.

    What I want you to see is the contrast. There are people plugging away with larger numbers, hiring people, creating generational businesses, and making the vision work.

    We admire larger farms because they’re unmistakably entrepreneurial, and they’re often driving necessary change in the marketplace.

    But in our community, these larger producers are operating alongside the people who are intentionally and deliberately finding ways to be make pastured poultry a successful part of a farm business with modest scales.

    At any pastured poultry conference where we’re tackling the issues of the day, I want both groups of people; experienced and scaled up. The challenge is speaking to people in a way that gets experience and volume in the same room. Often, those two characteristics end up being inversely related.

    That’s why I think in terms of “professional” pastured poultry producers. That’s not a term I derived. I think Grady Phelan used it to describe the meeting we held in 2017.

    When we start thinking in terms of “professional,” some of these things come to mind:

    • You have a livelihood at stake.
    • You associate with peers because those relationships enhance your business.
    • You consistently invest in your education, your business, and your community.

    That’s the heart of who we want to attend the Professional Pastured Poultry Conference in Fayetteville, AR, in January. We'll have producers with experience, producers with scale, and producers who have both. 

    At any rate, now is the time to register for the Professional Pastured Poultry Producers Conference in January.


  • Tue, October 31, 2017 11:10 PM | Anonymous

    Pastured poultry goes beyond labels; it’s a community and a movement of farmers and eaters who intentionally choose to support a better way of raising chicken, eggs, and turkey.

    American Pastured Poultry Producers Association (APPPA) is pleased to release “Pastured Poultry: Better Way Forward,” a short film documenting pasture-raised poultry as a better method of production for everything involved. The land. The chickens. The people.

    The problem with poultry production today (aside from the actual production) is that the claims of free range, organic, antibiotic-free, cage free, and natural are nearly indistinguishable from the commodity options consumers are trying to avoid in the first place.

    The “Better Way Forward” video and companion Buyers’ Guide equip consumers with much needed information that will help them find and purchase the truly unique poultry products they seek.

    Pastured poultry farmers have long ago learned to embrace the positive animal welfare and nutritional benefits of sunshine, fresh air, and green grass. The constant movement under the sun and through the grass creates a dynamic, regenerative system that builds soil and protects the environment while creating uniquely nutritious and great tasting products.

    Compared to the static alternatives, the movement-based approach of pastured poultry inherently creates a difference you can taste. There’s more flavor and a firmer texture to the meat and eggs. The birds are healthier and don’t rely on antibiotics and coccidiostats.

    If you want to know the farmer who raises your poultry and eggs, the best option is to seek out local pasture-raised options. The “Better Way Forward” video and buyers guide is available at http://www.apppa.org/Consumers.

    The pastured poultry method of production was brought into modern agriculture in the early 1990’s by pioneering farmer Joel Salatin as a way to describe a more natural farming method that incorporated technological innovations. APPPA launched in 1997, as a non-profit trade association that encourages the production, processing, marketing, and purchasing of poultry raised on pasture.


  • Thu, October 26, 2017 6:52 AM | Anonymous

    In a world where organic birds stay confined to the barn and free range chickens never see sunshine or grass, figuring out what pastured poultry means can challenge a conscientious eater's best intentions.   

    Terrell Spencer, APPPA President and farmer at Across the Creek Farms sums up the challenge nicely, "Other people portray themselves as us. We don’t do a good job of marketing who we are. The ones who don’t do what we do, do a good job of marketing that they do it like us." 

    The American Pastured Poultry Producers Association (APPPA) hears the challenge and sees the larger poultry industry putting on their sheep's clothing. But we see the wolf clearly. 

    As a first step in taking our message mainstream, we're publishing a short film with supporting web content that will help consumers understand what pastured poultry is and then help them find it. 

    We call it "Better Way Forward" and the full film is coming in early November 2017.


    Here are some ways you can get involved and help spread a positive message about pastured poultry. 

    1. Like our Facebook to see updates or better yet, subscribe to our free email list.
    2. Share this trailer and then the final film when published.
    3. Become an APPPA member and join forces with a growing community of farmers who see pastured poultry as a better way forward.

    Stay tuned. 

    Contact Mike Badger, grit@apppa.org with questions.


  • Wed, July 12, 2017 8:27 AM | Anonymous

    The American Pastured Poultry Producers Association (APPPA) recognizes the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) effort to make the organic label address consumers’ expectations with regard to animal welfare and husbandry practices. While the proposed “National Organic Program: Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices” rule makes some beneficial strides toward improving the animal welfare of organically certified poultry, it stops short in several critical ways.

    APPPA is a non-profit membership-based organization that provides educational resources to pastured poultry farmers and represents approximately 1,000 active member farms. APPPA was formed in 1997 as a clearing house of ideas to support a renewed interest in pastured poultry.

    Pastured poultry embodies a few key tenets of production: the birds live a significant portion of their lives outside on vegetated pasture; the birds are rotated to fresh vegetation often in a managed way; flocks are housed in lower stocking densities to ensure the birds can express their natural behaviors without stress and injury to themselves or other birds; in addition to the forage offered via pasture, the birds eat a nutritionally balanced feed that is appropriate for the species and age of the flock; slaughter is typically done in small-scale or exempt facilities by hand in a way that respects the life of the animal.

    In practice, pastured poultry farmers employ different production models typically identified as daily move, day-range, and free range systems. In a daily move system, poultry are confined inside a movable shelter that typically accommodate groups of 50 to 600 birds per shelter; however, the birds have direct access to the soil and pasture while inside these well ventilated shelters.

    In day range systems, the birds are allowed to access an outdoor area independent of the housing area. Birds typically range inside temporary paddocks created by portable electric fencing and the housing, if left stationary, will have bedding and may have flooring and roosts. At regular intervals, the house and the paddock are rotated to areas of fresh vegetated pasture.

    A free-range model places birds on range without fences and relies on longer distance pasture rotations to keep the birds on fresh pasture; though this free-range concept offers the most idyllic view of outdoor poultry production, it offers the least amount of predator protection and is difficult to make work on small acreages.

    A majority of pastured poultry producers will use either daily move or day range systems. Producers typically favor day range for laying flocks, waterfowl, and finishing turkeys. The daily move system is often used for broilers, young turkeys, and maximum predator protection for laying hens.

    Ranging out of a fixed building is not commonly done on a pastured poultry farm because it’s difficult to manage the outdoor area in a way that does not result in degradation of the quality of soil, pasture, and forages. If the producer is stocking the fixed house paddock in a way that does not degrade the pasture, then the birds are not efficiently utilizing the range. This is the conundrum AMS has with trying to fit the intent of organic poultry production into the confined animal feeding operation model. The current proposal fails to solve the conundrum.

    APPPA clearly differentiates between certified organic production and pastured poultry production. They are not equivalent, even though some pastured poultry producers are certified organic. In publishing standards, in marketing, in education, and in discussions AMS should take care to ensure that they clearly communicate that the organic certification does not necessarily mean the birds have been pasture-raised. In the final rule, we would like AMS to acknowledge that while some locally available organic chicken may be pasture-raised, organic certification does not mean the birds have been raised on pasture.

    The proposed rule falls short of the typical animal welfare measures provided in the management of commercial pastured poultry flocks in terms of low stocking densities, living outdoors for significant portions of life, and managed and planned pasture rotation.

    Based on a 2014 APPPA survey of pastured poultry producers, the number of certified organic layer flocks (as self-reported) was 8% certified organic and 7% Animal Welfare Approved (AWA). The number of certified organic broilers was 9% and 7% AWA.

    The relatively low incidence of pastured poultry producers seeking organic certification has two primary causes.

    First, most pastured poultry producers serve direct markets where trust is earned through direct contact with the consumer–the epitome of “know your farmer.”

    Second, the organic poultry and egg standards, as currently enforced, place confinement organic poultry and organic pastured poultry operations as equals in the marketplace; in reality, however, they are different. Producers know it and more consumers are realizing it. Pastured poultry answers the consumer calls that the commercial (as defined by USDA) organic poultry industry ignores: local production, less densely stocked flocks, husbandry practices that leverage the birds’ natural behaviors, and beneficial impacts to soil health and fertility.

    With regard to distinguishing pastured poultry from organic poultry production, APPPA recommends:

    1. AMS clearly state that certified organic poultry does not imply pasture-raised and organic certification does not connote the principles of pasture-raised poultry as outlined by the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association in this response.
    2. AMS acknowledge that pasture housing (daily move, day range and free range) are acceptable production models with regard to the organic regulations, as long as those housing models meet the minimum standards as published in the final rule.

    Outdoor Access and Stocking Density

    The recognition that porches do not constitute outdoor access is obvious, and AMS should follow through on its proposal to disallow porches. The allowance of porches skirts the existing outdoor access requirement in organic poultry production by providing a thinly veiled appearance of compliance.

    The natural bird response to being confined in large numbers on the floor prevents all birds from moving around as freely as expected and therefore prevents many of them from accessing the door. The birds’ response in these houses is to gather in groups that stay in one area; the birds do not circulate and move freely around the entire floor. That means the birds don’t use the porch and other outdoor access areas in any meaningful way. Commercial poultry producers see this hierarchy at play each day when a negligible number of birds take advantage of their outdoor access.

    When the government has to define the meanings of “soil” and “the outdoors,” it’s clear that the intent of organic poultry production has become adulterated. APPPA feels strongly that outdoor access requires provision of areas with 90 to 100% vegetative cover. Such vegetative cover requires soil, sun, and planned rest from grazing to grow. This access to vegetative cover in the outdoor area is a principled point of differentiation between pastured poultry production and the AMS’s organic standards. Consumer feedback to pastured poultry producers repeatedly indicates that they expect organically raised poultry to live a significant portion of their lives outside on pasture; compliance with the proposed rule will not meet that expectation.

    Specifying outdoor stocking densities without consideration of pasture rotation, including planning for forage regeneration, creates an incomplete understanding for producers. This represents another major differentiation between pastured poultry and the proposed organic standard. A key to successfully producing poultry on vegetative pasture is the managed rotation of the birds to fresh vegetation at frequent intervals, sometimes multiple times a day. Disconnecting the flock rotation from outdoor stocking density runs the risk of denuded outdoor paddocks, which leads to health risks to the flock and decreased soil health. The size of the outdoor area is predicated on the pasture management plan, which includes consideration of the quantity and quality of the vegetation in the pasture, as well as the amount of time the birds will be on the ground. The size of the outdoor area cannot be accurately predetermined without consideration of those and other unique factors, such as geography and seasonal variations.

    The movement of the birds away from their own waste, via regular movement and rotation of housing areas, creates the healthy environment needed to rear flocks without the reliance on antibiotics. The proposed standards do not clearly articulate the relationship between stocking densities and pasture rotation.

    With regard to outdoor access and stocking density, APPPA requests that the final rule:

    1. Disallow covered porches as the only outdoor access area.
    2. Provision for outdoor areas to have 90 to 100% vegetative cover.
    3. Ensure producers plan for the appropriate pasture space, stocking density, and rotation to ensure the health and natural behavior of the birds while not resulting in the degradation of the soil, pasture, and forages. Outdoor area must minimize the spread of parasites and diseases and the build-up of excess nutrients.

    Indoor Stocking Density

    The proposed indoor stocking densities as set forth in the proposed rule set a low standard. The indoor housing recommendation of 4.5 pounds per square foot (1 square foot per laying hen) for a pasture housing type will only work if the birds are also ranging on pasture. In a winter, or indoor, housing environment, that stocking density will create a stressful environment.

    There is a simple test to ensure that stocking densities are correct. If debeaking or beak trimming is required to keep the flock from pecking each other, then the stocking density is too high and, consequently, the animal welfare is too low. One common cause of pecking is caused by environmental stressors, such as crowding.

    The proposed indoor stocking densities continue to enable producers to violate consumer expectations by permitting multi-story aviary production models for laying hens. Multi-story laying houses should not be permitted in organic production. The rule is going to create a clear double standard in organic production based on housing type and more production will move to the multi-story houses, creating economies of scale that further water down the organic egg market and further violate consumer expectations and reduce animal welfare. Houses that encourage birds defecating on each other are not a vision most consumers have of organic egg production. It’s also not a healthy way to raise laying hens.

    Indoor stocking densities also need to make considerations for the season, the weather and the access to the outdoors. In a pastured housing model, a laying hen may be content with 1.5 to 2.0 square feet of indoor space if allowed access to a rotated pasture. However, when a laying hen is confined in the winter, lower stocking densities provide less stress and less ammonia build up.

    With regard to indoor stocking density, APPPA recommends:

    1. The use of multi-story houses is discontinued in organic production.
    2. Indoor stocking densities are lowered. When birds are withheld from outdoor areas or when birds are housed in a daily move pasture shelter, APPPA recommends the following stocking densities across all housing types: 3 sq. ft. per laying hen (1.5 lbs. per sq. ft.); 1.5 sq. ft. per broiler (4 lbs. per sq. ft.); 7 sq. ft. per turkey (4 lbs. per sq. ft.).
    3. Organic production disallows beak trimming and debeaking as defined in the proposed rule. The burden of managing the physical behaviors should revert to the producer employing husbandry practices that complement the natural bird behaviors.

    Indoor Confinement

    APPPA feels strongly that organic poultry producers are permitted, by the current and proposed rules, to overreact and confine flocks too easily. The organic confinement model poultry industry continues to use the fallacious threat of disease for denying outdoor access.

    When organic producers are allowed to repeatedly and continually confine the flock based on the threat of a disease, it further erodes the confidence of the organic label. We point to the recent Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreaks in the United States as evidence. At the time of comments (June 2016), many organic flocks are still permitted to be confined and have been confined since the beginning of 2015 based on the perceived threat of HPAI and a risk assessment that does not match the observed data from prior outbreaks.

    To illustrate, we’ll cite the USDA’s own assessment of the risk of HPAI as published in Docket ID: APHIS-2015-0061. Conditions for Payment of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Indemnity Claims. This excerpt is taken from the proposed biosecurity exemption for smaller facilities (less than 100,000 broilers annually, 30,000 turkeys annually, and commercial table egg facilities with less than 75,000 birds): "[T]he smaller facilities that we are exempting from the requirement are less likely to have HPAI outbreaks than are the non-exempt ones. On smaller facilities, birds density tends to be less which minimizes overall viral load. Additionally, if a smaller facility was identified with HPAI the disease is less likely to spread outward to other premises because there are fewer birds, vehicles, pieces of equipment, and employees moving onto and off of the smaller, exempted facilities when compared to the larger, non-exempted ones."

    In light of APHIS’ stated correlation between stocking density and viral load to HPAI, APPPA believes strongly that both indoor and outdoor stocking densities play an important role in the health and management of the flock. AMS should decrease the stocking densities for both indoor and outdoor access and recognize that appropriate stocking density is a key factor in healthy poultry husbandry.

    With regard to HPAI, the evidence is also clear that the virus is susceptible to heat and sunlight. Yet, current organic production regulations – and hence practices - support continued disregard of that data.

    More and more consumers see through the shortcomings of the organic label, which propels them to pasture-raised poultry, a craft production system that focuses on managing symbiotic relationships, working with the natural tendencies of the poultry, and ensuring animal welfare.

    In the information we’ve gathered, neither a well-managed pastured flock nor a certified organic flock has been infected with HPAI. That’s different than saying there is no risk; we can never eliminate the risk of HPAI in a poultry flock, but we can manage it. 49.7 million birds were affected by HPAI in the 2014/15 outbreak in the U.S.

    The HPAI 2014/15 Confirmed Detection report by APHIS shows that less than 4,000 of the birds affected were spread across 20 backyard flocks; APHIS reports an additional game bird flock of 5,830 pheasants that it counts as a backyard flock. That means that more than 49.6 million intensely confined birds were killed either by the virus or destroyed by regulators as a part of the outbreak response.

    Of the effected backyard flocks, we do not know the husbandry practices of those flocks (at least not publicly). Backyard poultry is also not synonymous with pastured poultry, even though the current categorization by the USDA equates these practices, not differentiating between backyard flocks, hobby flocks, poultry ranging and pastured poultry.

    The indoor stocking densities tie into the proposed change in measuring ammonia levels in the house. APPPA and its board routinely cite 10ppm and 25ppm as the warning levels of ammonia exposure. At ammonia levels of less than 10ppm the birds’ ciliary function and immune system are negatively affected and at 25ppm, the level at which the human nose can detect ammonia, there is already damage being done to humans and animals - creating welfare problems for the poultry and the people. Ammonia exposure is non-existent in a well-managed pasture rotation.

    Stocking density will affect the ability to keep the bedding dry and keep ammonia levels down. For example, market age Cornish cross broilers stocked at approximately one square feet per bird (5 pounds per square foot) will require constant bedding management in order to keep the ammonia levels under dangerous levels. Decreasing the stocking densities for all the poultry species will not only provide a low stress living environment that doesn’t require beak trimming, it will provide a way for all producers to manage ammonia levels.

    With regard to indoor confinement, APPPA recommends:

    1. Organic production requires natural sunlight to enter the indoor living space.
    2. The final rule promotes lower stocking densities as a means to lower the viral load in the house and thereby reduce the risk of disease as stated by the USDA.
    3. AMS should maintain the proposed ammonia standards and further clarify the standards by requiring ongoing measurement of the ammonia levels (e.g., ammonia test strips). The human nose is not sufficient to reliably detect dangerous ammonia levels.

    Slaughter

    In terms of slaughter, APPPA believes strongly that the PPIA poultry processing exemptions need to be maintained for all poultry producers, including pastured and organic flocks. USDA should remove obstacles to make exempt processing more accessible to more producers. Many beginning farmers turn to pastured poultry production as their inaugural farming venture, but access to adequate processing is an obstacle that needs to be addressed. There is a lack of accessible inspected processing facilities throughout the United States; the poultry processing exemptions allow farmers to test poultry markets and businesses and to serve direct markets in a way that wouldn’t be possible without the exemptions.

    Limited access to legal processing options that enable farmers to move their products in open commerce is a competitive disadvantage. Ambiguity and misinterpretation of the poultry processing exemptions at the federal, state, and local levels of government suppresses the growth of small businesses that want to raise pastured poultry, which also affects independent producers who want to be organically certified.

    Some of the proposed slaughter requirements make sense and should be obvious. Specifically, not scalding live birds or shackling lame birds is sound welfare guidance. However, APPPA would like to state emphatically that humane poultry slaughter is not synonymous with stunning or controlled environmental suffocation. Stunning, especially when automated at high speeds, has the potential to be one of the most inhumane actions possible. Otherwise, AMS would not need to codify common sense welfare positions, such as only scald dead birds and don’t hang lame birds by their legs on high speed shackle lines.

    The proposed standard mentions that small producers are permitted to use killing cones and non-stunning exsanguination. The use of killing cones and exsanguination should be allowed in all poultry slaughter operations, including organic and at all size operations. APPPA would like to see the organic standards unequivocally reflect an acceptance of the use of killing cones and exsanguination without stunning regardless of facility size.

    With regard to poultry slaughter, APPPA recommends:

    1. The federally regulated poultry processing regulations remain as a legal and acceptable option to put birds into commerce for all types of poultry producers, including pastured and organic.
    2. Slaughter not be limited to stunning and include other methods, such as the hand slaughter of birds in killing cones by way of exsanguination.

    Summary

    In closing, APPPA applauds this effort and strongly emphasizes the need to clarify the distinctions of pastured poultry. As the welfare realities of pastured poultry production and the minimum standards of organic poultry production draws closer, we are confident that more pastured poultry producers will find value in organic certification, especially in lieu of lesser known, competing third-party welfare programs. We are available to help provide a pastured perspective, as needed (grit@apppa.org or 888-662-7772).


  • Tue, May 16, 2017 8:19 AM | Anonymous

    by Mike Badger

    The Washington Post, in a story "The labels said organic.' But these massive imports of corn and soybeans weren't," uncovered fraudulent soybeans coming from Eastern Europe. These were conventional soybeans when they left the port in Ukraine. By the time the shipment rounded Turkey and landed in the U.S., the beans underwent a miraculous certification.They had become organic.

    This is scary stuff for those of us who buy organic feed and who do not have the luxury of personally knowing their feed suppliers and how they source their grain. Pastured poultry is different in many ways in that we have small regional suppliers who do control their source; however, it's not ubiquitous.

    If you're buying organic chicken from a national brand, chances are good the major ingredients in that feed, especially soy is coming from somewhere with less rigorous organic standards.

    Do you and your customers understand this nuance in the supply chain?

    If you're feeding organic feed, have you asked your supplier where the corn and soy come from? They should be happy to answer this question in a transparent way.


  • Thu, October 15, 2015 9:12 PM | Anonymous

    by Mike Badger

    On October 15, 2015, APPPA and PASA co-hosted a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) panel discussion for pastured poultry producers in Lancaster, PA. The panel included; Mike Badger, executive director of APPPA; Susan Beal, holistic DVM; and Patty Dunn, avian pathologist at Penn State University and DVM; Craig Shultz, State Veterinarian at Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

    This is the summary presentation provided by Dr. Shultz. If you want to understand the fear associated with this virus, pay attention to the costs outlined in this presentation. Also relevant is the definition of the control and surveillance zones.

    The historical, observed data as reported by the USDA indicates that HPAI favors intensely confined flocks. As of October 14, 2015, 21 of 219 HPAI detections were labeled as backyard. In terms of numbers, the individual backyard birds totaled 9,673 of the more than 48 million infected total birds. We should understand that USDA's classification of backyard doesn't assume outdoor flocks. Backyard is a catch-all categorization.

    When we dig deeper, we see that 5,830 of the backyard birds belong to two individual flocks (one mixed game fowl and one pheasant flock). We also know, as it was reported during the panel discussion that some of the employees on the infected commercial barns also had personal flocks at home that became infected with HPAI.

    All the numbers are there to demonstrate the risk or relatively minimal risk to pastured flocks. The fear is unfounded.

    View presentation: shared with permission of Craig Shultz. 


  • Sat, July 25, 2015 4:14 PM | Anonymous

    The USDA's “Fall 2015 HPAI Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan” requires all surviving birds in a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) infected flock be killed within 24 hours of a confirmed positive. The American Pastured Poultry Producers Association (APPPA) does not condone mass depopulation by any method, and believes strongly that the pastured model reduces the need and opportunity for mass depopulation.

    To date, the USDA HPAI reports show that less than 10% of the confirmed cases are backyard flocks. In terms of overall bird mortality, backyard flocks have only accounted for approximately 10,000 of the 48 million deaths that have been attributed to HPAI. The USDA catch-all backyard flock category would include commercial pastured poultry farms if a pastured operation were to become infected with HPAI. However, there is often a difference in flock management between backyard and pastured flocks, primarily as it relates to housing and pasture management.

    To achieve the 24 hour depopulation goal, the USDA now endorses ventilation shutdown for depopulation, in addition to foam and carbon dioxide. Shutting down the ventilation in a large concentrated animal feeding operation induces suffocation by heat stress on the flock. Using firefighting foam also suffocates the birds. In neither case is the death fast. Foaming may take several minutes. Shutting down the ventilation system is estimated to take 30 to 40 minutes to kill the flock.

    In the USDA's “Stamping-Out and Depopulation Policy,” the department acknowledges that ventilation shutdown is “considered by some to be less humane than other methods, but it can spare the lives of potentially thousands of other birds by halting the infection as soon as it is detected.” The fall and winter of 2015 will likely provide insights into the USDA's theory that the complete, rapid killing of HPAI survivor stock, by any means necessary, inhibits the spread of HPAI. However, we do not have a clear expectation of what constitutes success with this practice.

    APPPA sympathizes with the emotional and financial burdens placed on the farmers who are confronted with the loss of flocks to HPAI and the torturous suffocating response to the survivors. No farmer who respects the lives of their animals and looks them in their eyes each day wants to condemn them to die by a virulent disease or by mass killing. However, the fearful days to reconcile those realities are upon us.

    There's no pointing fingers or laying blame. We've already arrived at this point, and we should acknowledge our unpleasant realities.

    The relevant focus should be in addressing the root cause of an epidemic, such as HPAI. APPPA asserts that the root cause is not a lack of confinement, biosecurity failures, lack of vaccinations, or untimely mass flock depopulation; those are reactions to a problem.

    It's time we collectively seek to identify the problem, so we can name it; so we can solve it.

    APPPA encourages researchers to invest in understanding the scale possible and the science inherent in raising flocks in natural settings in accordance with the land's capacity and under principled pastured poultry production methods. Pastured poultry relies on outdoor production with access to forage, managed pasture rotation, nutritionally balanced feed, stocking densities that eliminate stress, and humane slaughter that honors the connection between farmer and bird.

    The American Pastured Poultry Producers Association provides education and producer resources for pastured poultry farmers.


  • Sat, June 20, 2015 10:00 AM | Anonymous

    There's a new website called Buyingpoultry.com (a Farm Forward initiative) that is promoting a poultry labeling graphic that lists three categories of poultry classifications for consumers: avoid, better, and best. In the avoid category, Buying Poultry places "pasture-raised." This graphic was subsequently posted by Slow Food USA on their blog.

    APPPA took issue with the classification of pasture-raised while plant-based alternatives (e.g., laboratory produced chicken substitutes) were listed in the best category along with several closely related animal welfare certifications.

    APPPA sent the following letter to Slow Food USA, Farm Forward, and Buying Poultry.

    --begin letter---

    We have been truly saddened to find that you have lumped all “Pasture Raised” poultry into an avoid category and that you consider this category not satisfactory for consumers to purchase. Poultry produced in a pastured environment stand in an enlightened, high welfare contrast to their factory farmed cousins. We strongly feel that a consumer should know their meat producers and verify that the poultry they are buying is raised in a manner acceptable to the consumers. Direct consumer relationships supersede all certification programs. (emphasis added)

    For nearly 20 years, the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association (APPPA) has been educating, coaching, mentoring and providing other assistance to exceptional quality poultry producers. APPPA was started as a grass roots organization with the assistance of Heifer Project International. The inception vision was to provide high quality poultry in local food sheds. APPPA believes that all types of poultry should be raised on pasture using the time tested farming technique that utilizes constant movement onto fresh grass as the basis for a healthy, delicious, and happy bird. Our vision has always been to promote an opportunity for families to work together and to manage small non-threatening animals. This type of farming is a fabulous way to get children interested in animals, nature, and growing good local food.

    Our producers believe that all types of poultry will be raised on pasture. Pasture is a rich environment full of fresh vegetation, insects, direct contact with soil, fresh air, direct exposure to sunlight, and the opportunity for the poultry to express their natural behaviors in an optimum environment. APPPA members will manage their poultry on pasture for at least half of the poultry’s’ lifetime.

    With all due respect, please reconsider your categorization of all “Pasture Raised.” This type of stereotyping will have severe direct financial effects to thousands of small, local, high integrity pastured poultry producers! You really should visit some of our members before condemning all of us.


  • Wed, December 31, 2014 2:06 PM | Anonymous

    California's new egg law incrementally improves the living conditions for caged hens causing prices to rise for the same quality egg. All eggs sold in the state must be produced from hens that can turn around and stretch their wings inside cage confinement. Pasture-raised hens are raised in environments that allow the birds the ability to express a full-range of natural behaviors, such as flying, roosting, and foraging while improving egg quality.

    Hens raised on pasture produce eggs that comply with California's new law, which requires all eggs to be laid from hens with more spacious cages. Pasture-raised hens are not raised in cages, and their eggs are commonly available at farmers markets and directly from local, small-flock farmers.

    Even before Californians voted to ban battery cages for hens in the state, pasture-raised hens were living outside in spacious housing on range. The living environment provided to the typical pasture-raised hen allows her to express a full range of natural behaviors, such as flying, roosting, and foraging.

    Proposition2, California’s Egg Law, has been interpreted to mean caged hens require at least 116 square inches of space in order to express the most basic of natural motions, such as turning around and extending its wings. To demonstrate the approximate area needed to achieve 116 square inches, draw a square that is 10-3/4” x 10-3/4”.

    The California egg law in effect as of January 1, 2015, doesn’t eliminate cages from production, and it doesn’t require the birds to be outside on range. A pasture-raised hen, by comparison, spends a significant portion of its life outside foraging on vegetation and insects.

    The California law will ultimately increase the cost of eggs for consumers, but the quality will remain the same. In order to comply with the law, the large economies of scale afforded to producers in a battery cage system will decrease as a necessity to complying with the law.

    The quality of pasture-raised eggs compared to confinement eggs can be demonstrated in taste, texture, and nutritional improvements. Various studies have shown that pasture-raised eggs tend to have beneficial nutritional qualities in terms of lower omega 6:3 ratios and increased levels of vitamins A, D, and E.

    Eating pasture-raised eggs remains the best way to vote against the modern-alternative of producing eggs in confined environments. Consumers who care about high animal welfare, high quality, and high nutrition already have a choice in the marketplace. That choice is to eat locally produced pastured-raised eggs from smaller flocks.


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