Consider several factors before starting a poultry flock
When starting a poultry enterprise, whether a small backyard flock or a large commercial operation, there are several factors to consider, says a University of Missouri Extension poultry specialist.
"First of all, you need a location that is legal and acceptable for you to have poultry," Jess Lyons said. "Whether it is in the city or in a rural area, do you have the facilities, the land and source of water to start the enterprise?"
Lyons says that determining the type of operation you plan to start is important.
"Are you doing meat birds only a certain part of the year? Are you doing year-round production? Or are you producing eggs?" Lyons said. "That will affect the area that is required and also the housing facilities."
Backyard flocks that have free range without retaining fences need a place to go up during the night to be safe from predators. Fences that keep flocks in may not keep predators out.
"It seems like all poultry is susceptible to any type of four-legged predator, as well as winged predators," Lyons said.
Birds also need a balanced diet to meet the nutrient requirements of production. Lyons says supplemental light during the winter's shorter days is necessary to keep hens laying eggs.
"The other thing is, what do you do with the product being produced? What's your goal?" Lyons said. "Is it to supplement the farm income, or is it for the enjoyment of the family, or to give children responsibility? It works very well with youth programing with small, fairly inexpensive operations."
Lyons and extension poultry specialists from across the country have worked together to develop online information on small and backyard flocks through eXtension.org, a national collaboration of land-grant universities and the Cooperative Extension System. Information about upcoming webinars, recordings of past webinars, and many other resources for poultry production can be found at www.eXtension.org/poultry.