Progress 09/01/11 to 08/31/16
Target Audience:The target audience for this projectwas small/medium sizecertified organic producers who are interested in diversifiying their operations. The producers who attended our field days and participated in our webinars are interested in new ideas for "crop" rotations thatcould both diversity their product mix and be a source of fertility to their organic plots.A secondary audience has been students who are interested in sustainable agriculture and are enrolled in classes that have a sustainability or small farm component. Changes/Problems:
What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?To: Dr. Michael Lilburn Subject: Integrating a naked oats/organic pastured poultry grant project into a liberal arts course on sustainable agriculture The following report describes how I incorporated our grant "A whole farm approach to incorporating pasture raised organic poultry and a novel cereal grain (Naked Oats) into a multi-year organic rotation", into my Sustainable Agriculture course (2012-2014) at the College of Wooster. Introduction: Grant Rationale A course about sustainable agriculture normally includes elements of soil fertility and structure with techniques such as crop rotations and cover crops. The course should challenge students to think agroecologically in terms of the components of an agricultural system and how farmers manage these to optimize agronomic outcomes. One way of getting students to understand this is through exposure to agroecological experiments. The students are forced to think about the mechanisms and logics found on farm fields. Prior to my participation on this grant, the only means I had available were published studies without an experiential component. As such, I was excited to incorporate the grant into my course as I felt that a hands-on experience would be richer and longer-lasting in terms of learning outcomes. Student Demographics I incorporated the grant into the course ENVS23000, "Sustainable Agriculture: From Theory to Practice", in the fall of 2012, 2013, and 2014. This had a direct impact on 52 students over the three years. An important side note, these are liberal arts students without a shared background in agriculture or in some cases, science. The students had disciplinary backgrounds ranging from the arts to the social and natural sciences with biology and chemistry majors being a distinct minority. The majority were two generations or more removed from any farming activity and most had no working farm experience, had never held a chicken or seen a field of fresh clover. Each fall semester, the sequence of activities involving the grant project was as follows: 1. First Field Trip: Early in the semester (late Aug/early Sept) we visited OARDC to see the research site. We took a tour of the different rotation plots and then the chicken tractors with birds. Students observed the lanes with and without chicken tractors and the areas ahead of and behind the tractors. They observed the differences between the two breeds and noted the different quantities of feed versus pasture grass they consumed. Handling the chickens was often a first-time experience. 2. In-Class Discussion: During the class period immediately following the field trip we would discuss what we had seen. I would couch their observations within the framework of an integrated pastured poultry rotation system and would try to answer the questions they had. Finally, I included several questions pertaining to the experiment on the first exam of the semester. 3. Incorporation into Later Lessons: After the initial trip, we would discuss crop rotations in class followed by a lesson on rotational grazing of animals. The combination of these two lessons allowed students to reflect on the poultry research site and the agroecological logic behind it. 4. Comparative Field Trips: The class took field trips to other working farms and were asked to contrast the agronomic and management systems with the organic field site. Some of the farms had animals and this provided the opportunity for students to realize that multiple options are available for food production while maintaining soil health. Farms that contained animals allowed the students to compare the effects of different species (e.g., poultry versus pigs) on pasture health and different nutrient requirements. 5. Final Field Trip to Research Site: In November, after the chickens were gone and cover crops planted, we revisited the fields and observed how different they looked in late autumn. It was a rich experience for the students to see the changes to the fields and the impacts that seasonality had on agronomic management decisions. Learning Impacts: 1. In-Class Discussion Students were enthusiastic each year and genuinely intrigued by an experiment which was totally foreign to many of them. They were excited about the philosophy of raising broilers on pasture and producing high-protein oats to feed them. Numerous times after trips to other farms, students would insightfully contrast those management systems with the organic site. Judging by in-class discussion alone, our collaboration had a notable effect on students' appreciation for agroecological complexity. 2. Reconstructing the Logic of the Experimental Rotation Toward the semester's end, I would ask the students to recall the site visit and reconstruct from memory using the agroecological reasoning skills developed over the semester, the logic underlying the experimental crop rotation and below is a snapshot of a couple of the responses over the years: It makes some logical sense that the rotation encompasses two summer growing seasons since only the oats and chickens require warm weather. . . Clover is a winter-hardy, nitrogen fixing cover crop that would promote good soil for the oats. Oats are typically seeded in April to May in Ohio and are harvested in late August to very early September. This rotation would require spelt, a winter-hardy wheat relative, to be planted in late September following the oats. After the spelt is harvested in the mid summer, radishes, which condition the soil and require only minimal time to grow, will be planted. These can be left in the soil over-winter in order to allow the radishes to rot in the soil and improve organic matter. Lastly, the chickens will follow the radishes to improve organic matter in the soil. After doing some research about the life cycles of the crops used in the OARDC experiment I think I have an idea as to the rotation used and why. I think that Dr. Liburn initially started with oats, as it needs to be planted in the spring and then harvested in the fall. I think the cycle then continued with spelt as an article I read about it said it can still do pretty well in depleted soils, and is usually planted in the fall. I think the cycle would then continue with the planting of clover in the spring to fix nitrogen into the soil and radish in the fall, as they do best in the winter and could help to improve tilth of the soil after possible compaction by the cart that the chickens were in. At this point though I have trouble remembering whether or not the chickens were a separate part of the rotation or if they went down the rows of crops. I'm pretty sure I remember them having a plot to themselves so I think that they would fit into the rotation after the clover had been planted, as they could eat this to help kill it without labor intensive tilling, and then radishes could be planted later to help aerate the soil after compaction. These comments represent a combination of things learned (i.e. the role of cover crops, the importance of nitrogen) and not learned as well (i.e . they sometimes confused winter-hardy cover crops with nonhardy ones). Despite a few details lost, I was impressed with the students' abilities to remember the experimental rationale and most importantly the agroecology behind it. This was the central goal of our collaboration and the evidence suggests it was a success. It confirmed the value of experiential components in student learning and equally as important, student interest in the subject. If we ever have the opportunity to collaborate again, I will jump at it. Regards, Matt Mariola How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?See other products for how the results have been disseminated to communities of interest. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?
What was accomplished under these goals?
One factor that increases organic poultry costs is the high amino acid levels in diets formulated for maximal BW gain. We hypothesized that a balanced but reduced nutrient diet from 3 wk to finish would still produce a quality organic broiler. Yearly rotation plots planted with clover with pastured poultry, spelt, and naked oats (NO), a cereal grain with a better amino acid profile than corn (NO; CP, 12.1%; Meth, 0.20%; TSAA, 0.50%; Lysine, 0.55%). In a preliminary experiment, the NO (65%, 75%, 65%/85% at 5 wk) was mixed with full-fat roasted soybeans (FFSB; 38% CP) and fed to COMM broiler chicks. There was a decline in BW and breast muscle weight with increasing NO or the 65/85% mix. The 65% and 75% NO diets, however, resulted in similar CARC weights and dry matter (%) so 75% NO was used in the organic field experiments which utilized organic NOplanted the previous year. The analyzed values were higher than the NO used in the preliminary study (CP, 13.65%; Fat, 7.0 %; TSAA, 0.58%; Lysine, 0.57%). This diet was fed to COMM and RedBro (RB) strain chicks, the latter a slow growing strain popular with organic producers. The diets fed in the preliminary and field studies (75% NO, 20.6% FFSBM) had the following analyzed values (Preliminary: 16.4% CP, 0.90% Lysine, 0.60% TSAA; 2013 and 2014 field studies: (19.8, 21.0% CP, 1.10, 1.11% lysine, 0.76% TSAA) with no added methionine. For the pasture studies, chicks were purchased in May and July, reared indoors (3 wk) and fed a commercial organic starter diet. COMM and RB chicks were used each year (two replicate pens per strain) with an approximate 14 d difference strains to reach similar BW. In 2012, the COMM broilers weighed 2.56 kg (51 d) and the RB weighed 2.88 (65 d). Individual carcasses (2012) were selected and divided into similar BW classes: Heavy (H), Medium (M), Light (L) within each strain as follows: COMM (H, 2.17; M, 1.92; L, 1.63 kg) and RB (H, 2.20; M, 1.88; L, 1.62 kg). Carcass dry matter (%DM) is positively correlated with carcass lipid and ranged from 38.7 to 41.9% (COMM) versus 46.9 to 51.8% (RB). One half of each carcass was cooked to a constant temperature (1600 F) and cook loss (%) determined. The range was 28.4 to 30.7% (COMM) and 27.5 to 29.1% (RB). Combined with the DM (%) data, this suggests that RB carcasses had increased lipid and retained moisture after cooking. Across all three CARC classes, breast meat (%) ranged from 22.8 to 25.9% (COMM) versus 16.4 to 20.4% (RB) with a corresponding decrease in the thigh (17.3 to 18.0%; COMM) versus (18.6 to 20.4%; RB) and drum (14.6 to 16.0%, RB; 13.6 to 14.7%, COMM). The NO planted in 2012 supported excellent BW in 2013 (COMM: 53 d, 3.41 kg BW, 2.35 kg CARC; RB: 66 d, 3.21 kg BW, 2.18 kg CARC). The uniformity of CARC is important for small producers so the age and strain differences in CARC range were determined (2014). At 67 d, the RB had a mean BW of 2.83 and 2.99 kg with CARC ranging from 1.77-2.48 kg (Rep 1) and 1.77-2.45 kg (Rep 2). The range encompassed 18/25 birds from each rep. At 53 d, mean BW in the COMM was (3.15, 3.18 kg) with a CARC range from 2.04-2.72 kg and 2.09-2.91 kg per rep (20/25 birds). Similar to 2012, 2015 CARC were divided into three BW classes for dark (thigh/drum) and breast meat determination. The BW classes for the RB ranged from 2.77-3.58 kg with CARC from 1.85-2.45 kg. The COMM BW range was slightly lower at 2.68-3.5 kg but CARC was still slightly higher at 1.85-2.46 kg. Total dark meat (g) was similar (192-186 g, 205-222 g, 258-253 g) in the RB and COMM but breast meat (half carcass) was increased (P < .05) in the COMM across all three BW groups (186-233 g, 208-282 g, 224-287 g). The NO diet was fed by three outside organic poultry producers to RB chicks and the mean CARC was 2.09, 1.95, and 1.98 kg versus 2.09 kg for the OARDC RB. In 2014, some RB and COMM chicks were kept indoors when the other chicks were moved to pasture. Samples of abdominal fat were collected from the indoor and pasture birds at processing. The RB had increased saturated FA (RB, 25.3%; COMM, 23.8%) and monosaturated FA (RB, 37.6%; COMM, 33.7%; P<.05). There were no other strain differences in abdominal lipid FA. The indoor chicks had an increase in polyunsaturated FA (PUFA; 24.9% versus 23.1%; P < .05) and a small but significant increase in total n-3 FA (2.12 versus 1.66%; P < .05) which does not support a benefit in n-3 FA in birds reared on pasture. The poultry tractors (10 ft) were moved daily so we could determine where a given tractor was 28 days before it had been moved and plant species in replicate pasture lanes (1 m2 square) was subsequently determined. The lanes with (W) and without (WO) poultry had the following plant regrowth pattern (dry mass basis): Broadleaves, W - 11%, WO-12%; non-weed grasses, W-40%, WO-34%; weed grasses, W-35%, WO-17%; clover, W-14%, WO-37%. It is clear that producers who would like to maintain pastures need to consider this in their poultry management practices. We hypothesized that whole grains mixed on farm with FFSB is a possibility for decreasing feed cost and we tested this with organic spelt from one rotation plot and purchased wheat. Diets containing 75% cereal grain and 20.6% FFSB (+ min/vit/salt) consisted of the following: 100% ground wheat, 50 : 50 ground : whole wheat, 100% whole wheat or 100% whole spelt. These diets were fed from 3 to 9 wk to COMM birds. The 100% ground wheat diet decreased BW (P<.05) at 7 and 9 wk (1.88 kg; 3.06 kg) compared with the 50:50/whole grain diets at similar ages (1.96-2.04 kg; 3.25-3.33 kg). Variable costs and enterprise budgets for the poultry and associated organic crops were based on the inputs used and valued at market prices. Fixed costs for durable assets used lease rates and farmland rental rates for Wayne County, Ohio. For machinery, rental rates from the 2014 Ohio Farm Custom Rates Survey reflected ownership (depreciation, interest, etc.) and operating costs (operator labor, fuel, etc.). The poultry included the two strains with four annual production cycles. Wholesale prices (local processors) were used and reflected a premium for the RB birds. Average CARC weight was less for the RB, even with the longer rearing period. We included a credit for increased hay yields following the pastured poultry and this amounted to $0.25 and $0.39 per finished COMM or RB broiler, respectively. Net return per bird (100/group, 2 groups/year) were $1.91 and -$0.46 for the COMM and RB, respectively. If expanded to 2,000 birds per year, net returns increased to $5.40 and $3.75 each for the COMM and RB, respectively. Crop enterprises used the same methods described above. The spelt averaged 27.25 bu/acre with a straw harvest of 1.75 tons/acre ($125/ton) resulting in gross receipts of $546/acre. Total variable costs were estimated to be $379/acre so the total cost of spelt production was $479/acre with a net return of $67/acre. The NO was interseeded with clover and yielded only 16 bu/acre. Assuming a straw harvest of 1.2 tons/acre, NO receipts totaled $354/acre. Variable costs were $465/acre with a total cost of $565/acre yielding a net return of - $211/acre. The considerable negative return is largely due to the low NO yields. Other studies have shown greater NO with organic production methods. With our enterprise budget estimate and all else being equal, breakeven NO yield is 32 bu/acre. The budget for the clover hay was completed for the hay crop alone without the benefit of pastured poultry. Our budget represents normal hay yields and the costs of planting and harvest. With a hay yield of 4 tons/acre valued at $200/ton, per acre returns total $800 with a variable cost of $471/acre. Land cost of $100/acre per year resulted in a total cost of $571/acre. Total net returns were $228/acre without the pastured poultry and recall that we credited the pasture enterprise for increased hay production following the pasture poultry.
Chapter 12. Enhancing the nutritional quality of poultry meat: Michael S. Lilburn, Ohio State University, USA ISBN-13: 9781786760647
Vol. 1 Achieving sustainable production of poultry meat. Ed S.Ricke, Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing
Lilburn,M.S., P.L.Phelan, M.Mariola, J.Anderson, and K.Bielke, 2017
The inclusion of high levels of naked oats and full-fat soybeans in simple diets for organic broilers. Submitted to Journal of Applied Poultry Research.
Lilburn,M.S., P.L.Phelan, M.Mariola, J.Anderson, and K.Bielke, 2017
The growth and carcass traits of commercial and slow growing broilers fed low-protein organic diets with a high level of naked oats and reared on pasture. Submitted to Journal of Applied Poultry Research.