Poultry Management Class

poultry group                           

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. The class has moved on to a dual purpose and layer hens. This is an experiential learning opportunity within the Veterinary & Animal Sciences Department, wherein students perform management activities that are required for the care of a flock 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, record keeping, and marketing the birds. Students will also learn safe handling procedures used in poultry shows and veterinary practices and these skills will be tested during our class poultry show at the end of the semester. The class is directly supervised by Hélène Cousin, Ph.D. of 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 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.

Today, the course is centered around dual-purpose/layer hens of various breeds, including Plymouth Barred Rocks, Wyandottes, Orpingtons and Silkies. These breeds are excellent to work with, and make for great show birds. Our chickens are raised in an all-in/all-out system. This means that once a semester we order our chickens and they are the only poultry on the farm.  At the beginning of each semester our day old chicks arrive and 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, they are allowed to free roam within our Poultry Room. We maintain a closed flock; no other chickens will come to the farm or be added to the group. All the chickens leave the farm at the same time; they either return to our breeding partner in Leverett, or go home with the students. Once they are gone, everything is sanitized, to limit any potential spread of disease and illness between flocks. Our system ensures that the chickens won’t be exposed to pathogens, and trains students in effective biosecurity practices.

3 studentsThe goal of this course is to educate students about the commercial poultry industry, backyard flocks and avian anatomy and health. 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 their management.

For more information on the Poultry Management course, please like and keep up with our Facebook page: UMass Poultry Management https://www.facebook.com/UMass-Poultry-Management

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

poultry show 2

  2019 chicks




    poultry show 1




2019 hens