Pasturebird: 2015 American Farm Bureau People’s Choice Award Winners


Farmer Paul presenting on The Pasturebird System

Farmer Paul presenting on The Pasturebird System

This past weekend, 3/4 of the Primal Pastures guys (Jeff, Paul, and Rob) had the opportunity to present on The Pasturebird System for the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge at the American Farm Bureau’s annual convention.

The idea behind Pasturebird is basically this: Take chickens out of the grow house and put them on grass.

Pasturebird offers a system to scale pastured poultry production globally by using rotational grazing to produce low-cost pasture-raised chicken, a system that’s good for land and good for the chickens.

Farmer Paul and Farmer Jeff

Farmer Paul and Farmer Jeff

To us, this is a pretty common-sense concept. But to the rest of the world, this method of farming is radically different from what people are used to and comfortable with (which usually involves packing 40,000 chickens together in a single grow house).

Pasturebird uses pastured poultry farming methods that are currently being utilized by Primal Pastures, but employs them on a much larger scale (so large that it would allow for pastured chicken to be available in Safeway, Albertson’s, etc.) with a few tweaks and adjustments.

With the current system, pastured poultry is much more expensive than the conventional stuff, mostly due to the amount of labor it takes to raise chickens outside. The Pasturebird System greatly reduces the amount of labor needed to raise birds on grass while still providing the same benefits (more space to roam, better for the environment & soil, etc.) by using updated & automated floorless chicken pens.

Pastured poultry are able to grub on grass and bugs, thus requiring less feed than conventional chickens. We have done the math and are fully convinced that we can produce pastured poultry at a competitive price using The Pasturebird System. But in order to begin testing the tweaks needed to implement this system, we are in need of some funding…which is what led us to compete in the Farm Bureau’s Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge.

We were one of four teams selected out of 200 applicants to present on our idea at the 2015 American Farm Bureau Federation convention (and received an initial $15,000 for making it to the final four). Pasturebird then had the opportunity to present and compete against the three other teams for the chance to win the Entrepreneurs of the Year Award ($15,000; determined by a panel of judges) and the People’s Choice Award ($10,000; voted on by the people).

Farmer Rob playing around with big tractor toys at the American Farm Bureau Trade Show

Farmer Rob playing around with big tractor toys at the American Farm Bureau Trade Show

The audience at this convention wasn’t the typical pastured meat-eating, real-food loving crowd that we’re used to. In contrast, the convention center where the presentation took place was filled with Monsanto employees and many farmers who knew (or cared) very little about “alternative” farming methods. Needless to say, Pasturebird stood out.

Despite our differences with the majority of the people in attendance, Pasturebird’s presentation was very well-received by all. The judges asked thought-provoking and interesting questions, the last of which was something to the effect of whether or not a big chicken company would be able to steal and implement our idea — to which Paul and Jeff responded, “If the chicken industry changes for the better because of this idea, whether or not it’s us that ends up implementing it, we will have accomplished what we set out to do.”

That last sentence perfectly sums up our passion for pastured poultry farming. We know that the current model is broken and needs fixing. If it’s us who ends up being able to fix it, great. If it’s someone else, awesome. Our main concern is that it gets fixed. Period.

Farmers Rob, Jeff, and Paul anxiously waiting to her the contest results with Director Lisa Benson, PhD

Farmers Rob, Jeff, and Paul anxiously waiting to hear the contest results with Director Lisa Benson, PhD

On the last day of the conference, we were ecstatic to find out that we had won the People’s Choice Award! The judge’s choice for the American Farm Bureau’s Entrepreneurs of the Year was awarded to Scout Pro, a great couple of guys from Iowa who we became friends with over the course of the weekend.

Although we didn’t win the whole thing, we couldn’t have been more pleased with how the competition played out and are extremely grateful to all of the individuals who gave us a chance. After all, it’s not every day that a small, beyond-organic, GMO-free, pastured poultry farm wins a total of $25,000 at a conference sponsored by Monsanto.

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who voted for us and supported us throughout this competition and beyond. Because of you guys, we are now able to continue the groundwork to eventually implement The Pasturebird System on a much larger scale (and are hoping to offer competitively-priced pastured chicken in stores and restaurants by 2016).


  1. Fred Edward says

    Hope you can figure out the “tweaks” so I can afford chicken more than once a month!!

  2. Barbara Moore says

    Please keep me posted about any efforts in Texas, specifically in the San Antonio -to – Fredericksburg -to – Austin -to – Elmendorf area.

  3. says

    This is so awesome! I had no idea the event was sponsored by Monsanto, that goes to show even more that real change is happening! Sounds like Heather and I will be visiting your beautiful farm in March! I can’t even wait to give you a huge hug!! :)

    • Bethany McDaniel says

      It really was incredible! We felt (and still feel) so hopeful for the future after that weekend! :) I cannot even tell you how much I’m looking forward to when you and Heather come visit!! So very excited!

  4. BETTY FEKETE says

    I hope the Monsanto organization was a little taken a back by the support you received for the ‘People’s Choice’ award. I have shared your win on FB and Twitter in hopes that more people will get onboard.

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