If you are considering establishing an organic poultry enterprise there are many issues you will need to think about. These are some of the most important:
- soil type: The soil needs to be relatively free draining. Heavy, wetland not only makes access difficult, it also creates more challenges for the birds;
- shelter: Poultry needs a sheltered environment. Exposed locations should be avoided if possible;
- labour: Organic poultry production is more labour intensive than conventional systems; the birds are housed in smaller groups, often in mobile housing. As the houses are often moved around the farm, there may be instances where the birds are some distance from the farm buildings;
- infrastructure: Water should be available in the house (both at the brooding and rearing stages), and preferably also on the range. You will need good access all year round, to feed, observe and manage the birds. At certain points in the rotation, the houses may be some distance from the farmyard, and this may mean a significant amount of travelling, sometimes in less than ideal weather conditions;
- capital: A considerable amount of capital investment is required to establish a successful and efficient organic poultry production unit of any reasonable size. This may, depending on whether there are existing slaughter facilities available to you, also require setting up a processing unit on farm;
- feed: The move towards 100% organic ration, increasing feed prices and the emphasis organic principles place on home-grown feed means that feed is a major consideration when considering setting up or converting to an organic poultry system.