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.
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).
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.
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).