Chicken Ranching or Chicken Farming: What’s the Big Difference in 2020?

Grass-fed Chicken Ranching

Grass-fed Chicken Ranching

For many years, a typical concern we have actually been asked is whether raising chickens (on a large scale) means chicken farming or chicken ranching. The answer is not as straight-forward as one might think.

If you are raising chickens exclusively for meat, you most likely fall in the classification of “chicken rancher.” If you raise more crops than chickens, nevertheless, you’re more likely classified as a “farmer.”.

A Poultry Ranch

A Poultry Ranch

If you are raising chickens exclusively for eggs, you can easily fall in either classification. Again, if you raise more crops than chickens, however, you’re are a bonafied farmer!

Now, to complicate matters, if you reside in a place where crop farming is the primary purpose, you’ll find that even cattle ranchers will be described as “farmers.” Frequently, the identifying is local.

I don’t know numerous chicken farmers or ranchers who will be upset if you described them as one or the other, but if you ‘d like to understand the differences, we’ve detailed out the basic definitions for each classification:.

Is it chicken farming or chicken ranching?

Is it a farm?

Although farms and ranches sound the same, both of them have an important difference. Generally, a farm is a place where vegetables, grains, spices, and herbs grow for human consumption.

Veggies such as corn, tomatoes, pumpkins, cabbages, lettuce are cultivated there. Grains and spices consist of barley, rice grains, buckwheat, cardamom nutmeg, mace an so on. Apart from this fibers, and raw materials can likewise be gathered from a farm such as cotton, wool or silk.

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Other types of farms consist of orchards with different fruit producing trees kept for food production. They may likewise be nut-producing trees such as almonds, walnut, hazel-nut, and cashew.

There are likewise hydroponic farms where plants grow in water. Or Aquaponic farms, which integrate crops with fish farming to develop a symbiotic flora and fauna.

Is it chicken ranching?

A ranch is particularly a big farm where ranchers raise animals such as cattle and sheep to produce products like meat and wool. This likewise consists of elk, American bison, ostrich and emu, too.

Ranching originated from Spain. The name ranch stems from the Spanish word ‘rancho’, which means a little farm. With time, the meaning was altered.

Individuals who own or handle a cattle ranch are ranchers, cattle-men or stock growers. The primary occupation of ranchers is assisting the animals to graze and feed. They use animals such as horses or pets to enhance their ability to graze and raise the livestock.

Ranchers might also participate in a restricted quantity of farming, raising crops for feeding the animals such as hay and feed grains. Some ranchers mainly raise young stock, thus they are likewise called cow-calf operator. Individuals managing horses are typically described as wranglers.

Chicken farming or chicken ranching?

If the bulk of property is cultivated for farming production, it’s plainly a farm. If the place is utilized for animals breeding and raising to produce meat or animal items such as wool, it’s more commonly referred to as a ranch.

Bottom line, when in doubt, use the term “farm” or “farmer.” Its widely accepted and certainly a term of honor to the hard-working folks in our farming and ranching industries!

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Sample of Chicken Ranching:

Chicken Ranching Improved Pasture Soil Health in Iowa

When bison wandered the Great Plains, meadow chickens and other fowl played a crucial role as the clean-up crew. They would follow the herds delighting in the larvae in bison manure.

In Doug Darrow’s 160-acre mob grazing system near Oxford, Iowa, his 300 chickens have the very same task, but they ride in style from paddock to paddock in an old-fashioned bus that functions as a chicken coop. “This suggests there are less flies to plague the cows,” stated Darrow. This natural type of insect control, enhances herd health and rate of gain, while offering another income source from the eggs laid by the clean-up team.

The Chicken Ranching Bus Contains 300 Laying Hens

The Chicken Ranching Bus Contains 300 Laying Hens

Along with functioning as public transportation for the chickens, the bus functions as a nighttime shelter securing them from predators.

” Grazing experts from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) checked out with Darrow about grazing systems in 2004,” stated Jess Jackson, previous grazing specialist and present NRCS National Partnership Liaison. “Years later when he was ready to move to a high-density grazing system, we fulfilled to set out the fences and watering system, and established a strategy to execute the new system,” he said.

About a year after transforming 80 acres of cropland into pasture, Darrow was authorized for a 2014 Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) agreement through his local NRCS workplace in Johnson County, Iowa to set up fencing and the watering system. The fencing was used to divide his pastureland into 2.28-acre paddocks. The cows are moved from pasture-to-pasture on a 60-day rotation.

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Each pasture is grazed for one day, and rests for the staying 59. Darrow’s chickens follow in the exact same rotation, however 3 days behind the cow-calf herd.

The chicken ranching hens rotate 72 hours behind the cattle herd to provide insect control, and the bus provides easy mobility from paddock to paddock.

The chicken ranching hens rotate 72 hours behind the cattle herd to provide insect control, and the bus provides easy mobility from paddock to paddock.

The high-density, or mob grazing system, also promotes soil health and nearly gets rid of erosion by preventing overgrazing. “By only grazing one paddock each day, the cows don’t have time to overgraze the lawn and clover pastures,” stated Jackson. “With all the roots and much of the leaves undamaged, the plants have the strength to rapidly replenish themselves.”

“And, the undisturbed root system of the continuous pasture enables microorganisms to grow, enhancing soil health and increasing organic matter,” stated Iowa NRCS State Soil Researcher Rick Bednarek.

Darrow made a choice to transform all his cropland acres to a mob grazing-chicken ranch, a time-intensive system requiring daily attention. But for Darrow the advantages far exceed the time requirements.

“I’m attempting to imitate nature,” said Darrow. The system eliminates his need for fertilizer and other inputs, conserving costs, equipment time, and preventing runoff of business inputs.

Producers interested in NRCS technical and financial assistance are motivated to contact their local USDA service center.

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4 Responses to “Chicken Ranching or Chicken Farming: What’s the Big Difference in 2020?”
  1. Ethan February 1, 2020
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