ARS Poultry Farm Gains Organic
Certification By Sharon Durham May
Organic certification has been given to a poultry research facility
operated by the Agricultural Research
Service (ARS) in Fayetteville, Ark. It's one of the first such facilities
for poultry research in the United States.
Scientists at the ARS
Production and Product Safety Research Unit started developing the agency's
Organic Poultry Research facility last year and were granted certification in
Fanatico and research leader
Donoghue will use the facility to examine ways of using natural compounds
to reduce food borne pathogens and diseases in poultry. They have taken the
lead as part of a group of researchers across the country to study these
compounds for organic poultry.
Food safety concerns with Salmonella and Campylobacter
are high priority areas for organic poultry producers. Unfortunately, there are
a limited number of safe, effective and approved organic treatments to prevent
and treat health problems in organic flocks.
Results of collaborative studies with the
University of Connecticut and the
University of Arkansas, research have
indicated that natural compounds such as caprylic acid--a fatty acid naturally
found in milk and coconuts--and essential plant extracts all have antimicrobial
efficacy against poultry enteric pathogens. These compounds could provide
solutions to address food safety concerns in organic production systems.
Fanatico and Donoghue have also formed the Organic Poultry Advisory
Board so they may directly work with organic producers to solve pathogen and
disease issues on an organic poultry farm.
The state-of-the-art organic poultry research facility was developed
collaboratively between the ARS unit in Fayetteville and the University of
Arkansas. The research facility is a fixed poultry house with large grassy
yards. The facility has the capacity for 20 floor pens--each 10 feet by 10
feet--and each pen has a 4-foot by 2-foot opening to an outdoor yard. Each
enclosed outdoor yard is 1,000 square feet. The house is naturally ventilated
with glass windows for natural light. The large yards will have vegetation
year-round due to location in a warm climate and are designed for high-use.
The facility not only meets the livestock requirements of the
U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) National
Organic Program, but also the animal welfare recommendations for poultry by
the National Organic Standards
Board and the Organic Poultry Guidance Document of the
Association. Both of these organizations encourage a high amount of outdoor
ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of the
USDA. The research supports the USDA priority of ensuring food safety.