Poultry Management Class

The Poultry Management class was started in 2011 by a group of students interested in learning how to manage a small flock of broiler (meat) chickens. This is an experiential learning opportunity within the Veterinary & Animal Sciences Department. Students perform management activities that are required for the care of a group of poultry.  Day old chicks arrive soon after the semester begins and students will be responsible for all daily care including:  feeding, cleaning, weekly weights, bird identification, moving the coops on pasture, record keeping, and marketing and distributing the processed birds.   The class is directly supervised by two professors from the Veterinary & Animal Science Department with involvement from the staff veterinarian. Students who are continuing with the class become teaching assistants and present short lectures on related subjects such as diseases and nutrition, help provide instruction, and organize the classes and activities.

poultry management 3.24.16

Cornish Rock CrossPoultry Management began in 2011 with 15 Cornish Rock Crosses. These are fast growing broilers that are ready for processing in as little as 7-9 weeks. These are the chickens that are grown by large scale producers that you typically see in grocery stores.

In 2012 we switched from the Cornish Rock Cross to Rainbow Rangers and over time have increased the number of birds to 50. These birds are slow growing broilers, which mean that they are ready for processing at 11-12 weeks of age. This breed was developed in France by producers that desired more active and docile birds that were better suited for pasture rearing.Rainbow Ranger

Our chickens are raised in an all in all out system. This means that once a semester we order 50 chickens and they are the only poultry on the farm. This is a closed flock which means no other chickens will come to the farm or be added to the group. All the chickens leave the farm at the same time for slaughter. Once they are gone everything is sanitized. We do this is to control disease and illness. By having an all in all out system our chickens won’t be exposed to possible diseases and bacteria from the previous chickens and by having a closed flock we do not risk bringing in a chicken that could introduce an illness to the flock.

new brooder 514      portable coop

At the beginning of each semester 50 day old chicks arrive. They are raised in a brooder until 4 weeks of age when all of their adult feathers have grown in. Once the chickens are fully feathered we put them out to pasture as soon as there are a series of warm rain free days. The chickens live in an enclosed portable coop that is rotated once a day to a new patch of pasture. They live on pasture until 10-12 weeks of age. At this time they are sent to slaughter and distributed.

The goal of this course is to educate students about the poultry industry and its various management practices. By the end of this course students should be able to knowledgeably raise a flock of chickens in their own backyard and have a full understanding of all aspects of the poultry industry. We also aim to provide the community with a healthy, natural, alternative option when purchasing meat birds.

For more information on the Poultry Management course, please contact Dr. hcousin [at] vasci [dot] umass [dot] edu (Hélène Cousin)

Student Teaching Assistants:

Aliza Ahlen

Aiden McGrath

    

    

New Chicks - January 2016