1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Determine the impact of integrating laying chickens with cattle and small ruminant grazing on parasite/pathogen control as part of a Southern Region SARE funded research proposal.
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
As part of a SR SARE funded project with the ARS units in Fayetteville and Booneville, the Kerr Center, Louisiana State University, Appalachian State University, National Center for Appropriate Technology, and farmer cooperators; research will be conducted to determine the impact of raising poultry with ruminants on animal and bird performance, livestock parasites, benefits to pasture, and economics. An on-farm study will be conducted to observe two systems (one of which will use poultry grazing): specialty cattle grazing and conventional cattle grazing. The specialty system is Pineywoods cattle (75 cows)/no chemical dewormer/115-ha pasture/poultry grazing. Two small poultry shelters will follow the cattle rotation. The conventional system is Angus-cross cattle (130 cows)/annual chemical dewormer/1619-ha pasture/no poultry grazing. Observations will be taken for one year and will include weaned calf weight (taken in the fall), fecal egg counts (taken at weaning or in fall and monthly through early spring), hornflies on cattle, pasture fertility and forage quality. The poultry shelters which follow the Pineywoods cattle in the specialty system are designed to house 20 layers and will be mounted on trailers or skids. An on-farm research trial will be conducted in order to determine the impact on poultry following a cattle rotation. Poultry shelters of the same dimensions and design as described in the specialty system will be placed in a 0.4-ha subsection of the 113-ha pasture that will be fenced off from cattle. This treatment is designated Treatment 2) pastured layers (no cattle; control) and will be compared to layers in the specialty system described above. The treatments will have 2 replications. These shelters will not follow a cattle rotation, but the pens will be moved regularly within the subsection. For 80 weeks, poultry performance will be measured monthly on a pen basis (egg production, feed efficiency, mortality), as well as food-borne pathogens (Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli). Overall costs associated with this management system will be determined.
3. Progress Report:
The project, funded through the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, is a collaborative effort with the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Studies are being conducted to determine the impact of raising poultry with ruminants on animal and bird performance, livestock parasites, benefits to pasture, and economics. Kerr Center tested the integration of layers into cattle operations. Due to two years of low rainfall, results regarding the potential of poultry to reduce cattle parasites were not conclusive. During periods of drought, parasites may be less active in the forage sward and cattle less likely to ingest them. In addition, parasites are less active due to feeding hay that is necessary during drought. Results are being integrated into outreach materials.