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Addressing the Needs of High-risk Small Flock & Niche Market Poultry Flocks by Establishing the Center for Small Flock Research and Innovation

Investigators
McCrea, Brigid
Institutions
Delaware State University
Start date
2010
End date
2014
Objective

1. Create the CSFRI. CSFRI will provide a venue for the examination and dissemination of information about Biosecurity principles, foodborne pathogen prevalence, and alternative solutions to disease problems given the use of the model system's (Objective 2) development. The CSFRI will be the first in the nation to provide students with the unique opportunity to receive training and perform research in the area of commercial and niche market poultry production. The CSFRI will also develop a website to provide fact sheets for producers. The CSFRI will provide capacity for the funding of future research by undergraduate and graduate student research into biosecure alternative poultry production systems,

2. Develop a model biosecure, pastured poultry system by modifying the DSU Hickory Hill Research Farm. CSFRI will incorporate the modification of a one-acre lot covered by a temporary, movable, low-cost, light permeable, plastic sheeting held up by a continuous airflow system of fans, to create a model for indoor, pastured broiler production. This will become a biosecure model system for all poultry extension and teaching activities. This model system will be used to demonstrate and emphasize Biosecurity to underserved, high-risk, small and niche market flock owners in the Mid-Atlantic region.

3. To implement a small flock extension and outreach strategy to train extension agents and producers about potential modifications to these high-risk small flock and niche market commodities. An extension strategy is a key part of CSFRI and will be utilized for distributing the information to improve flock management and Biosecurity. By combining demonstrations and tours of the model system, workshops will be done to improve upon the amount of science-based information made available to small flock and niche market producers. Mid-Atlantic extension agents will be trained in improved methods of communication to small flock holders in order to reach underserved populations.

4. Modify existing chicken coops to provide both water and electricity. Both water and electrical lines will be provided to existing structures to improve the welfare of the laying hen flock currently used for teaching purposes.

More information

NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY:
This project proposes to create the Center for Small Flock Research and Innovation (CSFRI). The CSFRI's aim will be to meet the needs of underserved, high-risk small flock and niche market poultry producers by performing the research on their specific production techniques, management methodologies, and biosecurity modifications. Dissemination of information on research and innovative techniques to this high-risk, underserved population of poultry producers is the foundation of CSFRI. As the nation's first and the only research center of its kind, CSFRI will provide unique educational and research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. The objectives are as follows: (1) Create the Center for Small Flock Research and Innovation (CSFRI); (2) Develop a model biosecure, pastured poultry system by modifying the DSU Hickory Hill Research Farm; (3) To implement a small flock extension and outreach strategy to train extension agents and producers about potential modifications to this high risk niche market commodity; (4) Modify existing chicken coops to provide both water and electricity.

APPROACH:
Objective 1: The CSFRI will oversee the following: implementation of the model system (Objective 2) and implementation of extension training strategies (Objective 4). A website will be developed to update and inform extension professionals about upcoming programs. Additionally the website will contain a repository of fact sheets to aid small flock owners with management issues. The PD and CSFRI will be responsible for coordinating the modifications to DSU's Hickory Hill Research Farm to create the biosecure indoor, pastured model system. The CSFRI, in conjunction with the PD will hire 2 undergraduate to maintain the model system and aid in planning extension events (Objective 3). Objective 2: The modification of DSU's Hickory Hill Research Farm would include the grading of a one acre lot followed by running both electrical and water systems out to the lot. Next, the indoor, pastured poultry model system would be erected using an Airstream modified system (Airstream Innovations, Inc.) which is temporary, movable, covered by a light-permeable, plastic sheeting held up by a continuous airflow system of fans. The airstream modified system is a low-cost alternative to building a free-standing structure, yet permits plant growth thereby making indoor, biosecure pastured poultry production possible. Next, optimum Biosecurity principles will be implemented. Pasture grasses, orchard grass and clovers, will be planted both within the model system. Objective 3: Extension activities will begin upon completion of the model system (Objective 2). A Biosecurity and management strategy will be suggested to the high-risk poultry community via workshops, seminars, and field days in the region. This will be done in an attempt to improve the management and productivity of small flocks while increasing awareness of customized and effective small flock Biosecurity. Field days and/or workshops will highlight the model system and its modern Biosecurity features that have been customized to fit an alternative poultry rearing management system. This learning opportunity will include tours of the model system to permit producers to experience hands-on Biosecurity. Overall, the Mid-Atlantic Region will become familiar with the aim of the CSFRI, as well as the biosecure model system. The results will be distributed nationally and internationally to poultry scientists, extension agents, and producers through presentations at scientific meetings; small flock workshops and seminars; and also through newsletter, web-based and journal article publications. This will increase outreach capacity at DSU and provide critical information and technical assistance to extension agents as well as small and niche market poultry producers. This project will also promote the visibility and credibility of DSU's newly implemented small poultry flock program. Objective 4: To improve upon the welfare of the current flock of chickens the coops on campus will be renovated and modified to provide electrical outlets and running water. Currently, no such modern conveniences exist in the coops thereby seasonal variations in temperatures cause heat and cold stress to the flock.

PROGRESS:
2011/09 TO 2012/08
OUTPUTS: The airstream model has been purchased; the watering systems for each quarter acre has been installed; the electrical components are nearly complete; and prior to hurricane Sandy the unit was inflated and nearly complete. However, due to Hurricane Sandy severe damage to the airstream model occurred. There were high winds associated with the storm that arrived in Delaware on Monday October 29th, 2012. We are currently working with the engineer to determine when replacement material may be obtained and how best to removed damaged material so that the ground may be tilled and planted with pasture seed. It has been proposed by the engineer that the months of January and February be when new material is put onto the airstream model. The website has been developed by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources graphic designer. The webpage is online and can be viewed at the following web address (http://www.desu.edu/agriculture-and-related-sciences/center-small-fl ock-research-and-innovation). The site makes available all current fact sheets. The DSU College of Agriculture is currently creating a new template for all fact sheets and so as the sheets are being updated they are being removed from the website and then put back up in their new format. Upcoming events will be listed on the website as information becomes available. COOPTASTIC! 2013 is one event on March 2, 2013 that will be posted on the website. PARTICIPANTS: We have had no participants as of yet since we have yet to hold workshops. Our new timeline will be dependent upon the application of new material to the airstream model and so workshops are to be held in 2013. TARGET AUDIENCES: Our target audiences for this project are the owners of small flocks who raise poultry using alternative methods (i.e. pastured poultry) that lead to a higher risk of disease and breach of biosecurity. Also we will reach out to extension professionals who give a more traditional biosecurity message to small producers. These two groups will be reached via workshop in year 3 of the project. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Due to Hurricane Sandy on October 29th, 2012, we have delayed the workshops due to storm damage to the material of the airstream model. In early 2013, it is expected that the airstream model will be re-inflated with new material. We are planning to continue with the planting of pasture grasses over which the new material may be placed during the re-inflation. Fact sheets and website updates still proceed on schedule.
PROGRESS:
2010/09/01 TO 2011/08/31
OUTPUTS: The structural components of the airstream model have been purchased and delivered. Permits with the county were difficult to obtain given the unique nature of the airstream model. It took 3 months to describe, explain and then obtain the appropriate permits. Given the size of the model, and that it will contain chickens, it was deemed a chicken house by the county despite our descriptive efforts. We worked very hard to change this, but had no success. The original setbacks to the property lines and siting had to be changed to accommodate county rules regarding chicken houses. There were also concerns about noise with the fans, but those were allayed by playing a recording of the fans from an already erected facility from 50 feet back. They were so quiet the recording yielded almost no sound. A delay occurred in processing paperwork for surveying the site and obtaining work orders for water and electricity installation due to fiscal close. Surveying is now completed. The electric and water installation began the week of November 7th, 2011 and will be completed by December 23rd, 2011. The remaining installation of the airstream model is scheduled for the week of March 18, 2012. The website is being developed by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources graphic designer. The webpage should be online December 12, 2011. The site will make available all current fact sheets as well as the fact sheets recently developed by the Fall 2011 Introduction to Poultry Science class. These 8 fact sheets contain 10 educational facts about different chicken breeds selected by students in the class. The fact sheets also contain a picture of the selected breed. Upcoming events will be listed on the website as information becomes available. The first to be listed is the Small Flock Seminar at Delaware's AgWeek on January 18th, 2012 from 6-9 pm at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in the Agricultural Commodities Building. The second event that will be listed is the Mid-Atlantic 4-H Avian Bowl Challenge on March 31st, 2012 during the Delmarva Poultry Fancier's Show in the Dover Building at the Delaware State Fairgrounds. PARTICIPANTS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. TARGET AUDIENCES: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
DELX0029-10
Accession number
223037
Categories
Natural Toxins
Bacterial Pathogens
Commodities
Meat, Poultry, Game