Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch is a unique network of Heritage poultry farmers that includes the nation’s preeminent expert on Heritage poultry, Farm Forward Board Member Frank Reese. In 2009, with the pro bono assistance of Farm Forward Consulting, Good Shepherd was able to expand its production beyond turkeys to include chickens. Frank is also the first recipient of Farm Forward’s new Pay It Forward loan program. Pay It Forward loans are made available at below-market interest rates to industry-leading, highest-welfare farmers who can play key roles in developing the alternative infrastructure of sustainable, non-industrial farms. The $150,000 loan, which was funded by a grant to Farm Forward from the ASPCA, was utilized by Reese to build a state of the art, high-welfare barn for pastured-based poultry.
Good Shepherd has more than tripled their production since we began providing pro bono assistance, making it the market leader in the sale of chicken and turkey products that come from birds who are raised entirely outside of the factory farm industry using humane and sustainable methods. Good Shepherd has also served as a model for animal welfare standards developed by several nonprofit groups, including the nation’s largest certification organization, Global Animal Partnership, and the most rigorous certification, the Animal Welfare Approved program of A Greener World.
“The work of Farm Forward has been of decisive importance to me and all of us at Good Shepherd. Without their ongoing support my work would come to a standstill. There are plenty of people who have tried to help with the best of intentions,but good intentions aren’t enough. Farm Forward’s hands-on,practical assistance—on my farm and in the public square—is absolutely essential. At a time when almost no one is talking about the crucial importance of preserving both genetics and husbandry techniques, they are. They see what needs to be done and they have the know-how to help make it happen.Farm Forward gets it.”
Farmer Frank Reese
Crucially, Farm Forward’s analysis of the growth of Good Shepherd has shown that new orders to Good Shepherd are virtually always replacing purchases of factory farmed poultry. When a family orders a turkey from Good Shepherd for Thanksgiving, it means they don’t buy a factory farmed bird. When Chipotle ordered thousands of pounds of Good Shepherd chicken, they also ordered that much less meat from factory farms. Our analysis also suggests that as individuals and companies move to higher welfare birds, the increased cost mitigates towards an overall reduction in meat consumption. We consider our success in growing Good Shepherd to be among our most important achievements.