September 3 – December 11, 2019

Instructor: Nicole Burton, , (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 Responses: 120 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 3: Develop 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

No form of cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, or facilitating of dishonesty will be condoned in the University community. Academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to:

  • Cheating – intentional use or attempted use of trickery, artifice, deception, breach of confidence, fraud and/or misrepresentation of one’s academic work
  • Fabrication – intentional and unauthorized falsification and/or invention of any information or citation in any academic exercise
  • Plagiarism – knowingly representing the words or ideas of another as one’s own work in any academic exercise. This includes submitting without citation, in whole or in part, prewritten term papers of another or the research of another, including but not limited to commercial vendors who sell or distribute such materials
  • Facilitating dishonesty – knowingly helping or attempting to help another commit an act of academic dishonesty, including substituting for another in an examination, or allowing others to represent as their own one’s papers, reports, or academic works

Sanctions may be imposed on any student who has committed an act of academic dishonesty. Any person who has reason to believe that a student has committed academic dishonesty should bring such information to the attention of the course instructor as soon as possible. Formal definitions of academic dishonesty, examples of various forms of dishonesty, and the procedures which faculty must follow to penalize dishonesty are contained in the Academic Honesty Policy.


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: