Poultry rearing in Poplar and Willow plots – a great example of Agroforestry

Do you know you can grow poplar and willow in conjunction with organic free range poultry? This is a perfect agroforestry integration with the following benefits:

Chicken welfare

  • The trees provide shelter and safety
  • Chickens are more likely to roam which is really good for their welfare and stress levels
  • When in the safety of a woodland or energy crop setting they are less likely to injure themselves by feather pecking and there are lower levels of premature hen mortality
Poultry freely roaming in a poplar plantation (Photo courtesy of Will Jackson)

Tree growth

  • The foraging of chickens keep the weed levels down
  • The faeces produced by the chickens is high in nitrogen and this provides nutrition to the woodland or energy crop improving wood production yields

For the egg producer

  • Less stressed birds that are free to roam have increased shell quality and there is less chance of eggs breaking during collection and transit
  • It is estimated that the proportion of Grade A eggs is increased by 2% when chickens are free to roam in woody cover
  • Trees can intercept ammonia emissions from chicken sheds meaning that there is less chance of complaints from neighbours.
Chickens and geese in an SRC willow plantation (Photo courtesy of Jan Weger)

Interested in planting in 2020? See our price list for poplar and willow by clicking these links.

There are more great ideas for Agroforestry – the integration of food production and silvaculture in the Agroforestry Handbook published by the Soil Association. Download a free copy here.