OAK GROVE, MN — Seelye Brook Farms has been selected by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for a Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant (SADG). According to the MN Department of Agriculture, the SADG program is meant to “support innovative on-farm research and demonstrations” and its objectives are to “explore the profitability, energy efficiency, and benefits of sustainable agriculture practices and systems from production through marketing”.
The grant, titled Comparison of Mobile Confinement and Day-range Production Systems for Pastured Broiler Chickens will compare growing pastured broiler chickens in two different setups. First, the traditional “chicken tractor” (made famous by farmer-innovator Joel Salatin) will be used to grow out broilers. For comparison, a so-called “day-range” system which includes a chicken tractor for housing the birds but also larger free-range yard protected by electric fence will grow out a simultaneous batch of broilers.
“We are going to explore the two systems side-by-side and see if what benefits may be possible from the day-range system compared to the more traditional pastured system” lead investigator and farmer Randy Kleinman said. “It’s possible that day-ranging birds may prove to be less work for the farmer in terms of day-to-day upkeep.” There is also reason to believe “day-range birds may forage more effectively than chickens that spend all day confined to a chicken tractor even though they are on pasture.” Kleinman and co-investigator Kent Solberg would like to test if this could lead to healthier birds that are also more nutritious for customers. The experiment will be repeated in the 2019 season with a different breed of broiler chicken.
Kleinman is the lead researcher on the grant, which lasts three years with a budget of $12,000. The research proposed by the grant will be undertaken at Seelye Brook Farms in Anoka County during the 2018 and 2019 growing seasons. Kent Solberg, Livestock and Grazing Specialist for the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota, soil health expert, and fellow poultry farmer will serve as the technical cooperator on the grant.
“We are really excited to be doing research here at Seelye Brook Farms that will help other farmers grow nutritious food in a sustainable way for local consumers.” Kleinman said. Seelye Brook Farms is relatively new to the Minnesota farming scene, starting just in late 2016. “To be able to serve other farmers and to experiment and ask interesting questions that will help provide superior products to our customers so soon is a real honor. Conducting research in sustainable farming practices is one of the reasons that we started a farm.”
The pastured broiler chickens raised during the grant research will be part of the 2018 product offerings for sale by Seelye Brook Farms. Check out the product page for more information.