- People all over the country are raising poultry in their backyard. Some raise birds to have a steady supply of fresh eggs, some as part of their commitment to eating locally, some to sell eggs to their friends and neighbors at the local farmers market. For the past six years, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Biosecurity For Birds campaign has been reaching out to new—as well as seasoned—backyard poultry owners to provide tips and advice on how to prevent diseases, like different strains of avian influenza, from reaching their birds. APHIS is the arm of USDA responsible for protecting U.S. agriculture from pests and diseases that can harm livestock and crops.
- The objective of this challenge is for a poultry management system designed to assist the backyard farmer in enhancing their knowledge in raising poultry; record keeping for expenses, breeding results and profits; and community building to promote sustainable agriculture objectives.
- The typical backyard poultry farmer is anyone who has a small flock – both semi-urban and rural folks with little to no farming/agriculture experience or individuals who are thinking about getting a small flock. The four most significant challenges to novice backyard farmers are:
- Husbandry practices for raising their animals: How do you raise a chick from day old to adult? What do I feed? What is the proper temperature? How much space do they require? What type of feed do I need? I want to hatch eggs, what do I need to know? How many eggs do they lay?
- Health of their animals: getting the right info to keep their animals healthy. Who to contact and advice if they get sick? Are vaccinations necessary or not?
- Especially for urban producers: What are the zoning rules in my area? Can I have poultry? How many? This is especially true when someone already has poultry and someone is saying you aren’t supposed to raise poultry here or you have too many birds.
- How to properly handle eggs to make sure they are safe to eat.
Create a Backyard Poultry Farmer app with the objective of getting individuals and households back into agriculture through backyard chickens.
a The platform you use to develop the app is up to you.
b The app should help the user track stats on their flock such as:
a. Number of laying hens, how many eggs were produced each day, pounds of feed used, cost of general supplies (mandatory entries include chick cost/feeder/waterers/coup/bulbs/feeds/egg cartons. Also need to include user configurable or customizable entry fields), medical expenses, and cost to procure live chicks or hatching eggs. If the eggs are sold track selling price and calculate total income vs total expenses. Chicken photo album capability capturing hatch/purchase dates, breed type and names.
2. Environmental variables:
a. Include the ability to pull local weather information into the application. Temperature and hours of sunlight at a minimum.
a. Proper egg handling tips (how long you have to get the eggs collected and to a certain temperature, how to wash them), info on different breeds, different diseases or aliments and how to take care of them.
b. Data on eggs: http://afsic.nal.usda.gov/grazing-systems-and-alternative-livestock-breeds/poultry, http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/Focus_On_Shell_Eggs/, and http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/chooks/chooks.html
4. Links to other mobile applications:
a. For Spent hens handling - Ask Karen mobile app
b. For disease/illness reporting or any other poultry question –link to Food Safety Inspection Service’s Ask Karen the Expert website: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=ASK_EXPERT2
5. Location based information:
a. Local ordinances and information based on GPS location (if allowed by user for the application to access their GPS info). For example, where are the local feed stores and local vets. Live links to local city/county websites that are queried by the application to display poultry ordinances, rules and regulations.
a. Dynamically populated calendar for upcoming events related to raising poultry (at universities or sponsored by the poultry industry – for example http://apppa.org/). Also the ability for the user to add other calendar linked sites.
7. Disclaimer: The following disclaimer should be shown ensuring the backyard poultry farmer that the USDA will not be using any information stored in the app:
Thank you for using the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Backyard Poultry Farmer App. When you use this app, we may gather and store certain information about your app usage to help us make the app more useful, to learn about the number of farmers leveraging the app, the types of technology app users are using, and to present relevant information to you based on your app usage. We do not collect any personally identifiable information or information about your flock.