Small Farm Husbandry: Pigs & Poultry

STOCKSCH 269 (formerly 290E)

Small Farm Husbandry: Pigs & Poultry

Offered for the first time online in Fall 2018

Instructor:  Nicole Burton, 

**Please note that although SPIRE lists a prerequisite for this course (STOCKSCH 118) that is not the case for the online class. Simply email Nikki with your name and SPIRE ID# and she will get you registered). **

Class Description

This course is a farmer’s perspective on the sustainable management, production and marketing of poultry and pigs on a small farm. This course will address the advantages of having pigs and poultry and will review basic care, processing options, regulations and marketing. The course will be structured around lectures, farm visits in your own region, discussions and readings.  We will explore different alternative farming systems that utilize animals to enhance their production. At the end of this course, students will be able to utilize pigs and poultry as an integral part of their small farm plan.

Course Objectives

 Some of the specific skills you will obtain in this course:

  •  Identify and utilize sustainable management practices for pigs and poultry
  • Comprehension of the complete life cycle management of pigs and poultry for meat and egg production
  • Understand basic anatomy for purposes of monitoring animal health, estimating meat production volume and best practices for
  • Understand basic nutrient stoichiometry in order to prepare appropriate feed for optimal development and use of animals
  • Understand the rules and regulations of running a small farm business
  • Develop critical thinking skills on designing and implementing sustainable systems on a small farm

Written Assignments:

All written assignments will be submitted on Blackboard. If they are not submitted by the due date then there will be 2 points deducted for each day there after.


Before some of the lectures you will have an article or document to read. You must  post a written reflection on the material. Be prepared to discuss the material in a threaded discussion.

Meat Consumption Reflection and Entries:

Through out the semester you will have a daily journal where you will observe and document your personal consumption of meat. At mid-term and the end of the semester you will write a reflection on your observations on your own consumption over the semester and state any changes or appreciations you have on your diet.

Farm Recap:

After a farm visit in your own region you will be responsible to recap the highlights on the systems used at that particular farm. This must be in the form of a 2 page reflection and a condensed blog post. The blog post must include pictures and should be uploaded onto the Small Farm Husbandry blog site before class.  If no farms are available, you may discuss with the instructor other options such as meat markets etc.

Special Topic Paper:

Students choose a topic of interest in the field of poultry or pigs. Topic descriptions are due on Oct 2nd. Students must submit a 4-6 page research paper outlining their topic and, post a powerpoint presentation on Blackboard regarding their findings to the class. Final papers will be condensed and posted on the class blog site.


Week                                                 Topic                                       Assignment & Readings

1 Class Review Intro to Pigs and Poultry Management Readings: Project Manual & Poultry articles Assignment:

On-line IACUC training

Fill out all forms for Occ Health

2 Fence Workshop Designing a chicken tractor


Pig Housng

Reading: Chapter 11, Mobile Shelters, Ussery

& Pig Reproduction Document

3 Farm Visit and Reflection


Managing the small farm

Readings: Ussery – Chapter 5 & Weaver – Chapter 4 &5
4 Pig and Poultry Breeds Purchasing animals Moving Animals/ behavior Housing & basic needs Readings: Ussery and Weaver- Chapter 6

Assignment #2

5 Starting your flock, incubation, brooding

Physiology & management of Pigs

Special Topic Subject Due Readings: Ussery – Chapter 4 Weaver,  2&3


Assignment #3

6 Physiology of Poultry and Egg production

Silvopasture & pasture rotation


Weaver -Chapter 7 & 8 Internet articles on pasturing pigs and silvopasture Assignment #4

7 Integration of animals into different agricultural systems


Farm Visit and Reflection

Mid-term Evaluation


Mid-Term Meat Consumption Journal reflection due

8 Sustainable Farming Systems Special Topic Outline Due Schedule Mid-term Appt Watch Poultry Slaughter Video




9 Poultry Health and Nutrition




Ussery- Chapter 15, 17-19


Assignment #5


Illness /Disease & Injury to Pigs & Poultry


Assignment #6

11 Other Poultry: Ducks, Geese, pheasants, Turkeys


Kosher Poultry Production


Assignment #7

12 Certifications, Labeling & Logistics


Products and Marketing


A Resource Guide to Direct Marketing Livestock and Poultry pages 41-70

& Ussery  Chapter 30

13 Products and Marketing Finances & Funding Reading:

Break even Method of Investment Analysis

14 Presentations Due and Feedback Final Meat Consumption Journal Reflection Due


Homegrown Pork: Humane, Healthful Techniques for Raising a Pig for Food, by Sue Weaver, Storey Publishing 2013, Cost $18.95

The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An all-natural approach to raising chickens and other fowl for home and market growers, by Harvey Ussery, Chelsea Green Publishing 2011, Cost $39.95

Accommodation Statement

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is committed to providing an equal educational opportunity for all students. If you have a documented physical, psychological, or learning disability on file with Disability Services (DS), you may be eligible for reasonable academic accommodations to help you succeed in this course. If you have a documented disability that requires an accommodation, please notify me within the first two weeks of the semester so that we may make appropriate arrangements.

Academic Honesty Statement

Since the integrity of the academic enterprise of any institution of higher education requires honesty in scholarship and research, academic honesty is required of all students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Academic dishonesty is prohibited in all programs of the University. Academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to: cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and facilitating dishonesty.   Appropriate sanctions may be imposed on any student who has committed an act of academic dishonesty. Instructors should take reasonable steps to address academic misconduct. Any person who has reason to believe that a student has committed academic dishonesty should bring such information to the attention of the appropriate course instructor as soon as possible. Instances of academic dishonesty not related to a specific course should be brought to the attention of the appropriate department Head or Chair.   Since students are expected to be familiar with this policy and the commonly accepted standards of academic integrity, ignorance of such standards is not normally sufficient evidence of lack of intent (


This class is part of the Sustainable Food and Farming Online Certificate Program and will count toward the Associate of Scienceprogram.   Online classes cost $472/credit.  If you would like to register for the Certificate program, you may apply here.

More Online Classes

NOTE: The UMass Sustainable Food and Farming Certificate has been declared eligible for Veterans Educational Benefits. For instructions see: Veterans Benefits.


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