Free-Range Broilers Roam First Organic Forest

WALES, UK - Woodland poultry have been introduced to UK's first organic forest as a trial cash crop.
calendar icon 11 November 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

A small flock of easy-care poultry has been introduced to a Mid-Wales woodland in an attempt to extract more value from forestry, reports Daily Post of Wales.

Peter Bottoms is experimenting with 20 Sasso birds, a French free-range breed, as a possible precursor to woodland pigs and even forest gardening.

Timber production will remain the main focus of 200-hectare Esgair Forest near Machynlleth – the UK's first organically certified woodland.

But Mr Bottoms also wants to establish additional cash crops and is starting with poultry, housed in an arc built from waste timber.

Initially, the birds are being fed on bought-in pellets. To maximise their grazing, he has sown strips of a cover crop containing a mixture of seed-bearing plants (quinoa, chicory, kale and millet) and insect-attracting plants (birdsfoot trefoil, borage, phacelia and red clover).

Similar crops have been established at the Welsh Poultry Centre to provide comparisons.

"Between the two sites, we hope to show the contribution these crops – and the general range – can make to the bird's diet, thus reducing reliance on bought-in feed," said Tony Little, of Organic Centre Wales (OCW).

Last week, OCW organised an open day at the forest, reports Daily Post. It plans a follow-up event in early January once the birds have been killed and processed to see how the new enterprise has performed.

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