Raising Pigs & Poultry


September 1 – December 8, 2021

To Enroll – Start Here



Nicole Burton, ngburton@umass.edu ,  (413) 429-6544

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 thereafter.

Readings Reflections & Discussions:

Each week 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:

Throughout 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 Visit:

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 power point presentation on Blackboard regarding their findings to the class.

Grading Rubric

Written Assignments: 320Points

8 @ 40 points each

Reading Reflections:  180Points

9 @ 20 points each

Video Reflections: 80 Points

4 @ 20 points each

Reflective Responses120 points

Meat Journal:  100 Points

Midterm reflection: 50

Final reflection: 50

Farm Visit Blog Post: 100 points

Special Topic Final: 200 Points Outline: 20

Presentation: 100

Paper: 80

Total Points = 1100

Week                                                 Topic                                              Assignment & Readings

September 6th Class Review Intro to the Sustainable Management of Pigs and Poultry


Readings #1
11th & 13th Poultry Breeds


Starting your flock

Reading #2

Chapter 4 and 5

Assignment 1:  Choosing poultry breeds

18th & 20th Poultry Fencing  & Housing

Designing a chicken tractor


Readings #3

Assignment 2:  Design a poultry shelter

25th & 27th Physiology and Egg Prodution

Health and Nutrition

Readings #4


Assignment 3Develop a homemade nutrition program for poultry


October 2nd & 4th Illness and Disease

Other Poultry: Ducks, Geese, pheasants, Turkeys


Special Topic Subject Due

Readings #5


Assignment 4: Solve and treat an illness

10th (Tuesday as a Monday) & 11th


9th = no class

Pig Breeds and purchasing Readings #6

Internet articles on pasturing pigs and silvopasture

Assignment 5: Explore pig breeds and their benefit to your system

16th & 18th Pig Housing




Video #1


Mid-Term Meat Consumption Journal reflection due

23rd & 25th Physiology

Health & Nutrition

Special Topic Outline Due

Farm Visit Contact Info

Video #2

October 30th & Nov. 1st Breeding

Raising young


Readings #7


6th & 8th  

Illness and Disease



Assignment #6:  diagrams on anatomy and developing an alternative approach to adding to nutrition

13th & 15th Integration of swine and poultry into alternative farming systems Video #3:  Vermont Compost poultry production


Assignment #7:  Designing a sustainable system of integration with your animal of choice.



Certifications, Labeling & Logistics



Reading #8

Video:  Ted Talk on full life of swine

27th & 29th  

Products and Marketing


Reading #9


Assignment #8:  Product research at stores

31st & Dec 4th  

Finances & Funding


Presentations Due

6th & 11th Reviewing 3 peers presentation of choice 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 (http://www.umass.edu/dean_students/codeofconduct/acadhonesty/).


This class fulfills requirements for all three of the online programs offered by the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School of Agriculture in Sustainable Food and Farming:

All online classes cost $482/credit.

More Online Classes

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