Poultry is a jungle fowl. Their forest-based geo-evolutionary blueprint defines every area of management, standards and protocols applied to the regenerative agriculture system we aim to make the norm in the poultry sector. Trees, shrubs and perennial forages are all part of the perennial systems associated with the raising of regenerative poultry.
Trees are good. They offer many ecological benefits, including water purification, carbon sequestration, and temperature and rainfall regulation and stability. However, we tend to take these benefits for granted and view trees as something extra farmers will plant, imagining that somehow they will find another hour in the day, an extra hundred-dollar bill, and additional energy and space on their farm. That is magical thinking considering the scale at which we need to perennialize the land, especially in the Midwest.
Selecting crop-producing trees that generate economic value for poultry farmers clears a pathway that supports the planting of more trees. Since chickens need a perennial canopy to provide protection from predators, to support the growth of forages at the ground level, to cool off on hot summers, to block the wind, and so on, why not select perennial tree species that also provide economically valuable outputs?
Along with leading the deployment of regenerative poultry systems in the U.S., the RAA is also part of regional efforts to deploy a Midwest-based hazelnut industry as part of the understory of agroforestry-based regenerative poultry and alley-cropped grain production. Combined, these stacking of farm-based enterprises and the streamlining of agronomics, management and mechanization, as well as engaging all stakeholders in ownership and control of the supply chain, generates the foundation on which we can meet the foundational indicators that define success in farming.
Working with others whose focus is on perennial cropping systems in the Midwest and other regions, we will deliver the value-added processing and distribution infrastructure to establish hazelnuts and other promising perennial crops as Midwest industry sectors and will seek to build hazelnut production as a high-value substitute for soybean-based protein in the regenerative poultry feed supply.