Resilient plants for free range chicken meat farms


Free range chicken meat production continues to grow in market share (15%, ACMF web site). To obtain free range accreditation in Australia, many programs stipulate there must be palatable vegetation available to poultry on the range at all times. However, there are difficulties maintaining herbage cover on the outdoor range due to bird activity (pecking and scratching). The challenge is to provide palatable vegetation all year round. New forage varieties are available that have vastly improved resilience under livestock grazing (sheep and cattle), yet they have not been trialled under commercial chicken activity. If new “grazing tolerant” varieties are proven to be more resilient under chicken activity this will enhance the welfare of free range meat chickens by providing longer lasting palatable vegetation and a more attractive range environment for the chicken to venture outdoors.


Chicken Meat

Research Organisation

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development acting through the South Australian Research and Development Institute

Objective Summary

Increase meat chicken welfare on free range farms by utilizing resilient forage plants on the range. Outcome 1. Identify those forage plants with increased resilience to chicken activity resulting in less bare ground exposed on the outdoor range. Outcome 2. Demonstrate that more chickens go outdoors and exhibit a wider range of natural behaviours due to increased usage of the outdoor range area with resilient herbage cover.

Project Code


Project Stage


Project Start Date

Monday, May 30, 2016

Project Completion Date

Monday, September 30, 2019

National Priority

Promoting and maintaining good health

National Priority

CME-Improving Food Safety of Australian Chicken Meat