Pastured Poultry Profits" by Joel Salatin- - - Opinions? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Has anyone read or heard of the book "Pastured Poultry Profits" by Joel Salatin? Is this guy on the level? Would it be realistic for a total novice to be able to raise free range broiler chickens on a 1/2 acre and net out $15,000 like Saletin describes? I am sure he does what he says, but he also comes across as quite the self-promoter. I guess I am a natural skeptic when I look at the number of experienced family farmers who are going broke and are giving farming up and then read Saletin's pitch that a total novice can make a decent living farming by just following his "model".

I would appreciate your thoughts. Please include your own personal exeperiences at trying to make a living off your farm. Thanks~~Dave

-- Dave (, April 24, 2001


I've read the book and I think it's workable. However, I noticed the use of the words NOVICE and 1/2 acre in your post. Joel has been doing his program for a long time and has gotten the kinks out for the most part. Also, I think you would shortly run into over fertilization problems with such a small bit of land. Joel runs cattle on his land to harvest the forage that the heavy "applications" of nitrogen encourage and thereby reduce the possibility of nitrogen toxicity. I seem to remember he mentioned the equivalent of 300# of nitrogen/acre at his stocking density of 90- 100 birds per pen.

Call ATTRA at 1-800-346-9140 and ask for the publications "Pastured Poultry: An HPI Case Study Booklet," "Sustainable Chicken Production," and "Range Poultry Housing." ATTRA is Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas and is based at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. The booklets and postage are free and this particular set is about 3/4" thick, costing nearly $4 to mail. The first one is a synopsis of 4 families who are raising chickens by the Salatin model.

I have only been raising chickens for eggs which I market but I have had a number of requests from friends in town to add broilers to the farm. Due to health issues, I'm hesitant but this project would be less detrimental than a number of others I have considered. I started with 2 chicken tractors more in the Andy Lee mode and could use them for the broilers. I have more land available to spread the manure but the previous owners removed all perimeter fencing so I can't currently run cattle or any livestock behind the pens.

I just read in Small Farm Today that Joel Salatin is to be a speaker at the magazine's 9th Annual Trade Show and Conference this coming November in Columbia MO. If you are near enough to come to the 3 day event, you might get more questions answered. I would be happy to continue this conversation privately as I need to get to the barn right now.

-- marilyn (, April 24, 2001.

According to an article in The Smithsonian magazine, the Salatin family earn more than $100,000 off of what would be considered a small farm today. That's a family of five, plus two apprentices.

The production portion of Salatin's model is well worked out. The catch comes in the direct marketing. Some states are more receptive to this than others. Salatin has a proven customer base and can easily sell all he wants to produce, which includes beef, pork, rabbits, eggs and broilers.

In some areas growers have formed a cooperative to share the expensive of the processing facility.

Under the category for Poultry - General, there should be a thread which gives the address of the American Pastured Poultry Association. They may be able to refer you to producers in your state.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (, April 24, 2001.

I read the book and am interested in trying to raise some poultry using this method. BUT- read it carefully- do the math and figure out how much land you will actually need for pasture (NOT 1/2 acre). Also, figure out how many chickens you would have to butcher and SELL every week in order to realize the profit that Salatin suggests. It is a LOT of chickens, even for me here in Fla where we have a very long growing season. Also, check into feed souirces in your area. We cannot use the same diet here as the ingredients are not readily and economically available, so, some adjustment is necessary which may affect the peformance of the chickens. And, most important- analyze your market. You can raise all the chickens you want, but if you can't sell them, at a premium price, how are you going to make any money at it? Also, regarding processing, in order to precess the number of birds that would be required to yield a decent income, you will likely need to invest in some equipment such as scalders and feather pickers. This stuff is not cheap! If you are only doing a few birds at a time you can do them by hand, but you won't make $15,000 profit. Take Marilyn's advice and get the ATTRA publications- they will shed some kore light on the realities of raising pastured poultry. Don't be discouraged- I am still planning to try this myself. I have built some chicken tractors this year as an experiment, but I keep my layers in them. I may do a trial run of broilers this summer, but I'm not quitting my day job just yet! Good luck.

-- Elizabeth (, April 24, 2001.

I have heard of the book, and read some exerpts from it in different places. I am sure that what he says can be done, but have a couple things for you to think about.

First - if you have never raised chickens before, I'd think about starting out small and making sure this is what you want to do...(I have raised rabbits on and off for years. Never once thought about a business - was interested in meat for my family. But, I needed some quick cash and called a pet store. Now, I am raising no meat, but by a fluke I am selling all I can produce - and they want more.) It was pure luck. It happens!!

If you still wish to make money this way after a year, go for it. If not, you don't have much in the way of losses. If you do go for it then, you can expand instead of going full blown from the beginning. Yes, its a long time before you could quit a job, but its a lot easier on you, your family and your sanity (not to mention your wallet!!).

Have you ever run a business before? It is quite different from managing someone else's. Be sure you are up for all of the challenges and pitfalls... and make sure insurance will not kill you!!! With any business, a liability policy is a minimum and a must. You will need your own filing system, for both your production and your income... And, remember - your family can run a business, but don't let the business run your family!!! You can hire out a lot of things (taxes, etc) - but that will cut into income - better to delegate first.

Are you sales oriented?? Without the ability to sell ice to an eskimo, you will need some help in this area. Its an awful lot of legwork, and a lot of 'gift of gab' to get a regular income going. But, you can perfect your technique as you go!!

Before you think I'm trying to talk you out of it, let me say this: you couldn't pay me enough to work for someone else!!! It is SO wonderful that you want to do this! Owning your own business is the ultimate in self-sufficiency.

If all of these things are in place (within reason) then GO FOR IT!!!! Lots of this stuff can be learned and perfected on the fly, but you have to at least know what you are in for to be prepared for it. You don't have to be the top salesperson, certified public accountant, master chicken farmer to be a success. Start slow, start small... But.... START.

-- Sue Diederich (, April 24, 2001.

you have to be in an area you can market. Where I live marketing would be the hardest. I sell cattle at the auction barn, where I would like to raise them out and sell privately. I raise sheep and probably break even (maybe not). I started a blueberry u-pick (third year) so.. the extension officer is going to try and market for me. Will see how it does, the plants are beautiful but do people in Eastern Oklahoma know what a blueberry is... I have the Pastured Poutry book you speak of plus I have raised a 100 to 200 chixs at a time up North(NW Ill.) could sell them all but here I doubt it. You have to be in an area where you can market.

-- Debbie (, April 24, 2001.

P.S. If their is a Super Walmart in town forget it, you have the "Walmart mentallity" cheap is best!!

-- Debbie (, April 24, 2001.

It is very difficult to compete against 'the big boys'. A couple of weeks ago Shop & Save was offering chicken leg quarters for $.29 per pound - not a misprint. I went and bought ten pounds to cut up for fresh meat for my barn cats. Lots of fat, but that was fine.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (, April 24, 2001.

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