Poultry Meat Nutrition Study Design: Help!

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by HaikuHeritageFarm, Nov 13, 2019.

  1. HaikuHeritageFarm

    HaikuHeritageFarm Songster

    Jul 7, 2010
    Memphis, TN
    My dad and I have had an ongoing debate as to whether or not it's worth the time and cost and labor to grow out our own meaties. I know lots of people like to do it because they like to know what they eat or how they're treated, etc. But he insists on doing it because it's "healthier for you". I started looking into that claim for supporting evidence and... well, fell down a rabbit hole.

    There's actually not a lot of supporting evidence for the claim.

    I think the American Pastured Poultry did one study that showed better omega fat ratios, but as a skeptical consumer (let's all remember, I'm the chicken enthusiast here, just not the dietary purist,) that would NEVER convince me to pay the asking price for pastured poultry!!!

    So anyway, I'm submitting a grant request to do a study with conventionally raised (commercial grower, cooped,) cornish x head to head with cornish x on popular alternative feeding routines that are supposed to produce healthier meat. To me, it does SEEM like the results should be positive, and I expect the study to prove the value of these alternative niche production methods.

    What I'm having trouble with is picking the feeding routines to follow. I'd like to compare standard commercial production to:

    1) Pastured
    2) Fodder Fed
    3) Organic/Non-GMO/Corn and Soy Free (???) Commercial Feed

    What I'm having trouble with is figuring out the details.

    One the Pastured group, I need a very standardized routine as far as what and how much regular feed is provided. I'm not sure if most small producers use conventional commercial grower or organic or something else.

    On the fodder, there is VERY little data available. Any kind of feeding plan involving fodder in an enclosed coop (no pasture) system would be appreciated. I'd rather not invent the wheel here.

    And on the LAST one...ugh. So many options. Blend my own feed, buy a commercial organic, to add on the corn/soy-free requirement, to offer pasture as well or coop in the same manner as the conventional birds?

    At any rate, the grant will allow me to test the end product for not only the traditional USDA nutrition label stuff, but really dig into other things like phytonutrients and fatty acids and really analyze which methods are working and then take the data to our buyers as proof of why its worth extra cost... and not just current buyers, but the press, who is really great at distilling months and years of work into one clickbait headline. :D
    Kiki and NHMountainMan like this.
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I can see some of the problems in coming up with details. There are so many variables in what you could do, I doubt there is any standard way any of those are done. Just on the pasture test, what mixes of grass and weeds will you have, do you mow it or let it go to seed, do they share pasture with other animals like cows and have access to their feed, what time of year as vegetation changes with the seasons, are there features where they might get a supply of certain creepy crawlies? I think there is a lot more than just how much of which feed you provide that can affect the results.

    Have you chatted with your county extension agent about this? They may be able to hook you up with some organizations, say an "organic grower" group or association that might be able to help you get something close how "many" people do it. Or maybe they could hook you up with someone local that is using one of these methods.

    It can take five years to become certified organic. If you are not certified organic, how valid is that test?

    I don't know where you hope to get your funding. You may be spreading yourself too thin to win the grant. You might be better off concentrating on one of these methods and trying to write the grant request with pretty tight variables. How do you handle your control group. How many batches are you going to run with each set of variables? For a test to valid it needs to be repeatable. I may be overthinking it but I'd expect the more scientifically rigid it is the more likely you are to get your funding.

    Another option might be to set up the test the way you'd raise them instead of trying to set it up for some commercial way or a perceived standard way.

    Good luck with it, I'd love to see the results however you go about it.
    Kiki likes this.
  3. Kiki

    Kiki Is your thermometer calibrated?

    Jul 31, 2015
    Houston, TX
    My Coop
    Who is the grant from?
  4. HaikuHeritageFarm

    HaikuHeritageFarm Songster

    Jul 7, 2010
    Memphis, TN
    This was going to be a SARE grant producer proposal but after consulting with some folk, we realized it might actually be deserving of a bigger SARE proposal.

    I know there will always be "more than one way to skin a cat" or, in this case, grow a chicken... even with each of these generalized feeding methods. Detailed explanation of the methods used and careful record-keeping would cover our butts on that front so folk that deviated from our precise methods and circumstances could account for variable results in their own efforts, but the hope would be to utilize some kind of approach that might be considered *typical* of each.

    I am realizing now that almost no data exists for cornish x broilers raised on any fodder component though. Has anyone seen any research on this topic?

    My understanding is that fodder grown out "as advertised" to a week plus is a terrible idea, but there may be significant value in four-ish day sprouted grains.

    I also wonder what might be the nutritional value in end results of simply *adding* fodder as a green feed in a regular commercial operation. Has anyone seen any research on this?

  5. CindyinSD

    CindyinSD Free Ranging

    It sounds complicated. My suggestion would be to take the most popular alternative broilers (pastured poultry on organic feed and coop-raised poultry on the same feed) and contrast them with commercial broilers. Almost no one seems to grow fodder for their broilers, but if I were to do that, it would be in winter, to replace pasture, and I see no good reason for me to raise broilers in winter.
    NHMountainMan likes this.
  6. HaikuHeritageFarm

    HaikuHeritageFarm Songster

    Jul 7, 2010
    Memphis, TN
    It will be complicated for sure, but I think it's important research and I love research. We'll have to do all of the different groups at once to account for weather as a variable, but we should repeat it multiple times throughout the year to test performance in different weather.

    The fact that nobody does fodder makes it especially interesting to me. With so many people interested in meat with better nutrition profiles, I think it seems prudent to test it as a possibility and if it proves to produce a more nutritious meat it might be worth exploring more.
    aliciaplus3 likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: