Pastured Poultry Research

Pastured Poultry Research at Truman State University

chicken Overview
Since 2001, students and faculty in the Agricultural Science program at Truman State University have been conducting research on pastured poultry.  “Pastured poultry” refers to any one of a number of production systems in which poultry (primarily chickens, turkeys, or ducks) are allowed access to forage, insects, etc. to supplement the grain concentrate that serves as their primary source of feed.  Several factors are driving increased interest in pastured poultry: consumer demand for “naturally-raised” and/or “free-range” chicken, concern over the environmental impact of large-scale, concentrated poultry production, and interest from small farmers due to the low start-up costs of pastured poultry production


Our research has focused on three areas:

  • Feed efficiency of pasture-reared birds vs. indoor reared birds, and of birds in two different pasture systems–a pasture pen and a day-range system.
  • Foraging behavior of birds in the day-range system (i.e. under what conditions are birds most likely to forage for insects and green-growing plant material)
  • Comparative nutritional analysis of meat from pastured poultry systems, indoor-raised birds, and conventional, store-purchased chicken

Research Results

  •  Thisresearch bulletin (.pdf format) summarizes our findings as of May 1, 2003.
  •  Presentation (PowerPoint format) given at Community Food Systems and Sustainable Agriculture (CFSSA) Seminar, December 8, 2003.
  •  Presentation (.pdf format) given by Catherine Zivnuska at the Truman Research Conference in Kirksville and the National Council on Undergraduate Research conference in Indianapolis in April 2004.  This presentation focuses on a feeding trial using Rainbow Free Range Broilers in Fall 2003.

Related Links

  •   National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service from ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas).  This site contains perhaps the best set of online resources on pastured poultry.  Within their site, select “Livestock”, then “Poultry” to access relevant information.
  • The Missouri Alternatives Center provides another information clearinghouse for resources on alternative agricultural opportunities.

For more information
Contact Michael Seipel at or 660-785-4316.