Research Strategies to Improve Small Farm Efficiency with a Special Focus on Livestock and Poultry Production
Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center
2011 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
To develop and use tools focused on the issues of small farmers with a focus on issues that impact animal health and farm production efficiency.
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Cooperative research has lead to improved strategies to reduce stress and disease in livestock and poultry. However, novel approaches are needed to further optimize and quantify production efficiency of small farms. Novel foraging strategies and the use of natural compounds will be tested to reduce stress and eliminate parasites and pathogens in production systems. University partners will assess the economic impact of new methods thereby providing small producers with tools to determine the feasability of incorporating research findings into production practices. Both undergraduate and graduate students will work with both parties to achieve project goals.
An experiment was initiated (in 2010 and 2011) to examine the effect of integrating poultry with growing lambs on transmission of gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN) to sheep and resulting GIN infection in the animal. The trial ended early in 2011 due to animal welfare concerns. Initially, three birds died while in the pasture system due to excessive heat. The drought rendered poor conditions for parasite transmission. Thus, it was unlikely to obtain meaningful data. In 2010, the study ended early because of problems with the temporary fences. The lambs became entrapped in the fence because the charge was not high enough, which became an animal welfare issue. In addition, the parasite infection was very low in the lambs, resulting in poor transmission of parasites. It has become clear that the pasture system in place is not adequate to conduct research with integrated poultry and small ruminants. It was recently learned that poultry will not break up the fecal pellets, as related by a farmer. This would have served to break the parasite cycle on pasture by drying out pellets and killing hatched larvae. Farmers are encouraged to run multiple species, including sheep/goats and poultry and others if possible, to diversify the farming system to reduce financial risk. In an organic farming system, diversity serves to dilute problems with disease and make more efficient use of farmland and forages.
The ADODR communicated with the University of Arkansas through emails, phone conversations, and visits.