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Barn at Kansas poultry ranch represents new economic model

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Kansas

Fourth-generation Kansas farmer Frank Reese Jr., owner of Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch, is nearing completion of a state-of-the-art barn that will establish an industry standard for producing higher-welfare poultry products at affordable prices. The new barn is the first of its kind--a larger output facility with abundant pasture designed especially for the needs of slow-growth heritage chickens and turkeys, as opposed to the conventional, genetically altered, fast-growth birds raised on almost all other poultry farms, including organic and "free range" operations. The barn project is being funded by a loan from the non-profit advocacy and consulting group Farm Forward, which in turn was funded by a grant from the The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

"The barn takes us a step closer to transforming the way America eats and produces poultry," said Farm Forward Executive Director Benjamin Goldsmith. "Now that the first group of birds have been moved into the new barn, Good Shepherd will become a national model combining economic viability with animal welfare standards that far exceed those achieved in typical organic and free range poultry operations."

With a $151,000 grant obtained from the ASPCA for the purpose of funding Reese's new barn, Farm Forward established its ongoing Pay It Forward loan program to provide funds and technical support for farmers to establish alternative models of high-welfare animal agriculture. Frank Reese is the first recipient of the Pay It Forward loan.

Unlike the fast-growing hybrid poultry (birds that reach market weight in as little as 38 days) currently produced in the United States, the slow-growth heritage breeds Reese raises thrive outdoors on pasture and do not require antibiotics in their feed.

"This barn is my roadmap for other farmers who want to raise birds humanely outside the factory system," said Reese. "The barn will improve efficiency, bring jobs to Kansas farmers, and help show how heritage birds and modern technology can fit together."

Date: 11/5/2012



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