According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) 2012 Census of Agriculture, Pennsylvania ranks second in production of poultry and eggs with sales of over $1.3 billion. Pennsylvania also produces game bird species sold to the Pennsylvania Game Commission or private hunting operations for stocking.
The Penn State Extension Small-scale and Part-time Farming project produces articles designed to inform the reader of the basics of production.
Traditional poultry topics:
These game birds are sought after by hunting clubs and, if you have the facilities to slaughter the birds, specialty restaurants also desire a year around supply of game birds.
Avian Influenza is a disease that may require an entire flock of birds to be destroyed. The highly-contagious disease has been recently discovered in other states and may impact Pennsylvania at any time. A diligent bio-security program where no one is permitted to be on your farm without proper authorization is the first step. Keeping wild birds as far away from your flock is another control measure. The web site outlines other issues you should consider.
Penn State Extension
The Penn State Extension website contains information covering:
- Egg quality
- Small poultry flocks
- Nutrient management
- Educational resources
- External resources
The information contained within this site will be valuable to beginners and experienced producers. Depending on the size of your flock, your nutrient management plan may fall under a Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) and more strict nutrient management plans may be required. Regardless of size, check with your local Conservation District to determine if a nutrient management plan is required.
Backyard Poultry Houses
The Penn State College of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering has easy to follow plans for building your backyard poultry house. These plans are not for use by pasture raised operations as the plans are for a permanent structure. Many pastured poultry operation construct housing and fencing that may be easily moved throughout the pasture. For more information regarding pastured poultry, see the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association (APPA) site.
Marketing of your poultry or egg production may take several forms. You may direct market whole birds live, whole birds slaughtered and eggs direct to the public. A source of determining prices for live animals is the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service's report on slaughtered poultry. These prices will be a starting point for selling your birds. Reports for egg prices.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations site contains valuable information regarding poultry marketing and plans for slaughtering facilities. The plans contain details for equipment necessary for small and medium sized slaughtering operations. There are also pictures to inform you of how to dress the birds and where to make cuts for selling chicken or turkey cuts.
There are many avenues from which to enter the poultry industry. From large-scale to small-scale, whichever path you choose, make sure you have a strict bio security plan in place and follow the plan to keep your operation and birds safe and healthy.