About alternative and small-scale livestock systems
Extension educator Wayne Martin introduces chicks to their new home at the University of Minnesota Rosemount Research and Outreach Center
Alternative livestock systems are best described as methods of production and marketing that lie outside the mainstream or conventional ways of raising livestock. Those methods may vary to some extent with each species, but in general, the basic tenets would include:
- A less intensive production cycle
- Access to the outdoors/pasture, depending on the age of animal and the weather conditions
- Minimal use of antibiotics
- A connection to local/niche markets
- In the case of organic production, conforming to the production protocols developed by the National Organic Board
The methods chosen may express the farmer's desire to embrace the concepts associated with alternative systems, while producing for a market that can give the smaller scale producer a better chance of being profitable, and so sustainable. For each of the species listed in this website, there will be a variety of production practices that are considered alternative and acceptable to a large and growing community of producers and consumers.
University of Minnesota Extension offers resources, education, and one-on-one support to those farmers interested in alternative production and marketing practices. We provide information on characteristics of different breeds, nutritional needs, pasture and forage needs, basic care/housing needs, building markets, and marketing new products.
Extension educator, alternative livestock systems
Agronomy and Plant Genetics
385 AniSci/VM, 1988 Fitch Ave
St. Paul, MN 55108