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Home  > Question of the Week

Question of the Week

Permalink What can you tell me about sustainable quail production?


Answer: Thank you for requesting information on gamebird production and marketing, especially pheasants and quail.

I suggest you contact your District office of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks or call the state office at 601-432-2400 for information on obtaining a quail or gamebird breeders permit for a gamebird operation. License fees typically depend on the number of birds being raised and the type of operation (commercial, hunting, or hobby) being considered.

The North American Gamebird Association, Inc. (NAGA) (1) is a commodity, communications, and recreational group promoting hunting, conservation of game, and hunting preserves. The association publishes the monthly Wildlife Harvest magazine that is free with a yearly membership of $65.00. These articles discuss relevant state and federal government policies, private operations, hunting resorts, and production practices for gamebird breeders. The classified advertisement section lists sellers or buyers for birds, eggs, chicks, equipment, and supplies. The NAGA Web site has a state by state listing of hunting preserves, gamebird breeders, etc. available in their members section at

Associations involved with pheasant and quail habitat are Pheasants Forever (yearly membership $30.00) (2), and Quail Unlimited (yearly membership $30.00). (3)

There are many books available from hatcheries, libraries, book stores, etc. on all aspects of raising gamebirds. Referenced below are book listings from two hatcheries to give an idea of what is available.

The publication Pheasant production: Economic and production information for Saskatchewan producers is available

Aside from the magazines published by gamebird associations, the following magazines also have articles or information regarding gamebird production and marketing.

Game Bird Gazette
P.O. Box 171227
Salt Lake City, UT 84117
$21.85 per year.

Small Farm Today
Ridge Top Ranch
3903 W. Ridge Trail Road
Clark, MO 65243–9525
$33.95 per year.


1) North American Gamebird Association (NAGA)
P.O. Box 7
Goose Lake, IA 52750

2) Pheasants Forever
1783 Buerkle Circle
St. Paul, MN 55110
877-773-2070 (toll-free)

3) Quail Unlimited, Inc.
PO Box 610
Edgefield, SC 29824
803-637-0037 FAX


Anon. 2003. Feeding game birds. Mississippi State University Extension. 6 p.

Anon. 2001. Pheasant breeder management, and Growing pheasants. Nova Scotia Agriculture and Fisheries. 7 p.

Anon. 1999. Pheasant for profit. AgVentures. August-September. p. 16-24.

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. 2007. Section 15.00 Captive wildlife/hunting resorts. 24 p.

Benhoff, Chuck. 2000. Taking the Salatin model one step further. The Stockman Grassfarmer. April. p. 30-31.

Greaser, George L. 1998. Partridge Production. Agricultural Alternatives PennState. 6 p.

Hayes, Leland. No date. How to begin and survive a commercial gamebird farm. Leland Hayes Gamebird Publications. 33 p.

Laudenslager, Lynn A. 1985. Pheasant pen construction. Wildlife Harvest. May. 6 p.

Legow, Dave. 2001. Gamebirds. AgVentures. February–March. p. 5–10.

Murray McMurray Hatchery. 2005. Gamebird books. 2 p.

Nowland, Warren. 2002. Pheasant raising. Agfact A5.0.3, 3rd edition, May. New South Wales Department of Agriculture. 28 p.

Randall, Maurice. 2001. Raising Japanese quail. Agfact A5.0.6, 3rd edition, June. New South Wales Department of Agriculture. 9 p.

Silva, Beth. 1999. Contemplating a quail quest? AgVentures. April–May. p. 15, 20-23.

Skewes, Paul A., and Henry R. Wilson. 1995. Bobwhite quail production. Cooperative Extension Service, Purdue University, West Lafayette. AS-485. 29 p.

Stromberg's Chicks & Gamebirds Unlimited. 2005. Gamebird books. 4 p.



Permalink What can you tell me about bramble production?


Answer: I am pleased to provide you with information regarding bramble production in Tennessee.

Please refer to the ATTRA publication titled “Organic Culture of Bramble Fruits.” This publication covers marketing, economic and general organic production information. You should also read our publication titled “Market Gardening: A Start-Up Guide.” This publication provides more detail on marketing and how to evaluate a market given your location, personality and farm goals. It also provides you with basic farm start-up information and includes profiles and an extensive list of further resources. Contact information for the North American Bramble Association is listed below. I would suggest using a supplier that is based in the southern region so that you can be assured the varieties are adapted to your region.

Also referenced below is an excerpt from a training held by the Southern Region Small Fruit consortium about different bramble varieties for Tennessee. This will help you decide which varieties will work best for your farming situation. I have also listed the contact information for the North American Bramble Association for your future reference.


The Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium
County Agent Training
; Bramble Cultivar Selection
Organic Small Fruit Training, November 6, 2005, Durham, NC

North American Bramble Growers Association. 2007. North American Raspberry and Blackberry Suppliers.

Further Resources:
North American Bramble Growers Association (NABGA)
Debby Wechsler, Executive Secretary
1138 Rock Rest Rd.
Pittsboro, NC 27312
E-mail: nabga@
Phone: 919-542-3687
Fax: 919-542-4037

This is the NABGA administrative office. Please use this address for all inquiries, including membership, newsletter submissions and advertising, etc.



Permalink What can you tell me about sprouting grains for livestock feed?


Answer: Thank you for contacting ATTRA for information about sprouting grains for livestock feeds.

It is not considered to be cost effective to sprout grains for livestock feed. Generally, in livestock feeding, the nutritional quality of grains is not improved by sprouting them. A brief section from Cheeke's Applied Animal Nutrition: Feeds and Feeding, points out that the germination of the seed utilizes energy that would have been available to the animal. Since the germinating seed uses up starch (and releases carbon dioxide), the remaining nutrients (protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals) become more concentrated; however, the total amount of these nutrients is not actually higher. However, sprouting can increase the amounts of carotene (vitamin A precursor) (1).

From a sustainable agriculture point of view, livestock should generally be raised in regions where forages can be produced to support their production, with grazing forages, hays, and other sources of fodder instead of sprouting grains for green feed. However, in specialty poultry production such as free-range, sprouted grains can play an important role in providing green forage during winter.

According to Rice’s 1930 book Practical Poultry Management, sprouts must be kept at 60 F in order to sprout; otherwise mold will occur and the room should be well-ventilated. However, modern producer Harvey Ussery sprouts successfully in his basement although he says in winter, the process is slower (see Further Reading section). Grains, such as wheat, rye, barley, and oats, are commonly sprouted as well as legumes such as peas, mungbeans, and lentils. If a green sprout is desired, light needs to be provided.

There are several low-cost methods to producer sprouts, including buckets, bags, trays, or cabinets. High-tech methods can also be used for large quantities of sprouts.

Bucket Method:
The bucket and/or tank methods is a simple way to produce large quantities of sprouted grains or beans in a small area. Sprouted grains are harvested and fed to livestock when seeds have sprouted and roots have grown 0.5 – 2 in in length. Seed germination and root growth, not top growth, are the goals.

Grains or beans are placed in the bottom of a bucket or tank and soaked in water overnight. After soaking, seeds are drained and rinsed. Thereafter, seeds need to be rinsed with water once to twice daily. After a few days, seed swelling and germination occurs followed by root emergence. Sprouted grains can then be fed directly to livestock. Commercial sprout producers use large stainless steel vats to raised mungbeans sprouts via this method. Milk tanks could also be used. Drainage holes that can be opened and closed, or the ability to tip a tank over to dump water, are important features.

Bag Method:
Sprouting can also be done in small muslin bags that are hung; however, the sprouts will be white--not green--due to lack of light.

Tray Method and Cabinets:
The goals of the tray and shallow bed methods are top growth (i.e. wheat grass, barley grass, hydroponic forage, etc. Fresh greens have chlorophyll and vitamins that are not present in sprouted seeds. In either case, soaked seeds are spread very thickly on a flat surface. Seeds are rinsed with water on a daily basis until germination occurs, and thereafter as needed. Sprouts are harvested with leaves are 6-8 inches in height. The whole plant, roots as well as top growth, can be fed to livestock. Other seeds suited to the tray or shallow bed methods include buckwheat, sunflower , and amaranth.

The tray methods is suitable to either vertically –stacked trays inside a growth chamber or single-layer tray on horizontal shelves. Fluorescent lights placed directly over the sprouts can provide sufficient light for indoor production (i.e. barn, storage shed, basement). In the past, sprouting cabinets were sometimes warmed to keep the temperature above 70 F.

High-tech Methods:
Large quantities of grains can be sprouted in a high-tech manner, using a separate room or greenhouse or other method to enclose and control the environment.

Single-layer growing beds which can be located inside a greenhouse during the winter months, or outdoors during the growing season. Shallow beds are adaptable to floor or bench production systems, and may be framed or simply lay flat. They are called shallow beds because they use a shallow layer of compost, peat moss, or potting mix as a starting medium.

Hydroponic grass production can be extended into the winter months through the use of an attached solar greenhouse or a free-standing low-cost hoop house. In really cold weather, root zone heating is an option that can be added to the greenhouse set-up.

For more information on hydroponics and sprouted grain technology (for human consumption), see ATTRA’s Greenhouse and Hydroponic Vegetable Production Resources and ATTRA’s Sprouts and Wheatgrass Production and Marketing, which includes contacts for the International Sprout Growers Association, is an organization of commercial sprout producers.


1) Ensminger, M.E., J.E. Oldfield, and W.W. Heinemann. 1990. Feeds & Nutrition Digest. 2nd Edition. The Ensminger Publishing Co., Clovis, CA. p. 274.


Cheeke, Peter R. 1991. Applied Animal Nutrition: Feeds and Feeding. Macmillan Publishing Company, New York. p. 52 53.

Harrison, John Bede. 1993. Growing Food Organically. Waterwheel Press, Seattle, WA. Title page, p. 121-129.

Jackson, Homer W. 1926. Poultry Houses and Fixtures. Reliable Poultry Journal Publishing Company, Dayton, OH. Title page, p.303-305.

Rice, James E. and Harold E. Botsford. 1930. Practical Poultry Management. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, NY. Title page, p. 95-96.

Further Reading

Ussery, Harvey. 2007. Sprouting to Enhance Poultry Feeds.



Permalink What information can you give me on processing equipment for alpaca fiber?


Answer: Thank you for contacting ATTRA for information about a U.S. source for mechanized carding, spinning, and other processing equipment for alpaca fiber.

Below you will find reference to two versions of a fiber processing mills directory from Wild Fibers magazine, dated Spring 2005 and Summer 2006. Several of the mills listed also sell equipment. These include Mini Mills (Canada) and Stonehedge (Michigan).

I am particularly pleased to direct you to the Stonehedge Mill; they have some very interesting information available on their website ( Please read their articles on “business planning” and “average monthly expenses and income”. I encourage you to take the time and money to visit the mill and ask questions; they offer a mini-apprenticeship so that you can see first-hand what is involved in the work.

Two items I’d like to call to your attention; first, the initial investment is around $100,000, according to the Stonehedge site. Secondly, the typical monthly expenses listed on the enclosed materials do NOT include principal or interest on the investment. You will want to study the figures carefully to consider the expected profitability of this enterprise.

Listed below are several other articles that I hope will be of interest, including “Fiber Processing as a Micro-Industry” and price lists from existing fiber processing mills.


Mill Guide lists from Wild Fibers magazine. Spring 2005, p. 54; Summer 2006, p. 69.

Stonehedge Fiber Milling Equipment, Inc.

Business Planning
Contact Us
Average Monthly Expenses and Income

NEWAIM Fiber Processing Mill information
. 1 p.

Thirteen Mile Lamb and Wool Company. Wool processing. 5 p.

Sutherland, Larry. 2002. Fiber processing as a micro-industry. The Camelid Quarterly. March. p. 1–5.

Georgia Mountain Fiber information.



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