Incorporating Pasture-Raised Organic Poultry and Naked Oats into an Organic Rotation

Organic Agriculture April 22, 2016 Print Friendly and PDF

eOrganic authors:

John Anderson, Ohio State University

Kathy Bielek, Ohio State University

This video was created by John Anderson and Kathy Bielek of the Ohio State University, who are participants in the NIFA OREI funded project: A Whole Farm Approach to Incorporating Pasture Raised Organic Poultry and a Novel Cereal Grain (Naked Oats) into a Multi-year Organic Rotation. In the video, John speaks with Cara and Jason Tipton of Tea Hills Poultry.

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm John Anderson from the Department of Animal Sciences at The Ohio State University. As part of our project on incorporating pasture-raised organic poultry and naked oats into an organic rotation, we had three producer-cooperators assess our naked oats diet in their production system for two years using both commercial broilers and red broilers. We spoke with cooperators Cara and Jason Tipton of Tea Hills Poultry.

Cara: We are a sixth-generation family farm in Loudonville, Ohio. We have a grain farm as well as meat birds and an on-farm processing facility. The poultry end is done on about 15 acres.

Jason: We do about 10,000 market birds a year. We have about 400 layers right now, we raise about 1,000 turkeys a year for Thanksgiving, and we do about 500 ducks a year.

John: The main goal of this project is to assess the feasibility of incorporating naked oats, also called hulless oats, into a multi-year crop rotation, with the naked oats then used as a major part of the poultry feed.

When compared to conventional oats, the hulless varieties have less crude fiber and a significant increase in both protein and lipid content. Hulless oats can replace all of the corn and some of the soy in a poultry diet and still produce acceptable growth rates for most pastured-poultry producers.

Another objective for this project was to have organic poultry producers assess the suitability of our naked oats and soy diet. We asked the Tiptons, how does the naked oat/soy diet compare with your usual broiler ration?

Cara: They performed pretty equally against each other. I think their rate of gain looks pretty comparable to what we feed already.

John: An additional goal was for the producer-cooperators to evaluate the relative merits of two different types of broilers—commercial broilers and a slower growing type often used on pasture called Red Rangers, red broilers, or just red bros. The Tiptons typically raise both white and red broilers, and we asked how the red birds compared to the commercial broilers as far as their behavior on pasture.

Jason: With the red bros they just seem more aware of their surroundings and they get up, they move. As soon as you move those shelters, they just go at it. So every one of the birds have green in their mouth, it seems like, as soon as you move them.

John: The red birds are slower growing, taking about two weeks longer to finish, and have a different carcass shape.

John: So marketing organic birds is relatively new for you, or have you marketed organic birds in the past?

Cara: We do have people ask occasionally if they're certified organic and when we tell them how we raise them, I think the more important thing to them is that they're raised on pasture and they're allowed to be outside and are fed an all natural feed. But, when we sell a product to a store, the organic label speaks volumes since we're not there to tell how we raise the birds. You know, it has an identity and a description on how it's raised just from the label, so it's definitely been a popular item in stores.

John: But you've been satisfied with the birds you ate? The oats fed ration?

Cara: Absolutely.

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.