A new web resource on eXtension.org provides research-based, up-to-date information on poultry production for small- to medium-sized production and backyard flocks.
It may seem a new trend to raise chickens in the backyard or purchase locally-grown eggs and poultry, but chickens have been raised in this country for eggs and meat since the first English colonists came on the Mayflower in 1620. Egg production on a small scale is one of the oldest animal farming enterprises in recorded history.
In the 1980s and 1990s small-scale poultry and egg production made a comeback in the U.S. as some Americans wanted a direct connection to their food. Raising chickens in the backyard became popular as did small production flocks of 500 to 20,000 birds per year (the maximum annual meat chicken sales allowed without USDA inspection).
Raising poultry is popular in rural, suburban and urban areas throughout the United States. They are suitable for 4-H/classroom projects, backyard flocks as well as small- and medium-sized production flocks. Raising backyard chickens can be a rewarding experience and a great way to teach children about nature, agriculture and the responsibility of caring for animals.
Making informed decisions about management and keeping birds healthy are important whether you raise poultry for your own use, show birds at fairs or are raising a flock as a business.
The Small and Backyard Flock resource on eXtension.org has information on getting started as well as poultry anatomy, behavior, biology and management. The site includes more than 250 frequently asked questions and more than 350 terms in a glossary. And it’s not just chickens. There’s information on ducks, turkeys, geese and other poultry breeds.
The information on eXtension.org is written by leading university scientists who study and conduct poultry research. All content has undergone rigorous reviews and is trustworthy and easy to understand. University researchers and educators from 18 states contributed and reviewed information.
In addition to the website, the experts at eXtension.org are hosting four free webinars on small and backyard flocks.
Poultry break-even calculator for small and backyard poultry flocks
December 4 from 7 to 8 p.m. Eastern Time
Learn how to use a spreadsheet for your backyard, small scale or mid-size poultry enterprise. The "break even calculator" helps poultry producers better understand costs and calculate a reasonable price for their product. The spreadsheet was developed by Extension Educator, Adam Hady of Wisconsin Extension Richland County and was designed for both meat and egg producers to establish a minimum price.
Winter care of small and backyard flocks
January 15 from 7 to 8 p.m. Eastern Time
Most poultry can handle cold weather if they are sheltered from wind and kept dry. To keep hens laying, however, requires light supplementation. Jacquie Jacob, Poultry Extension Associate at the University of Kentucky, will discuss what is involved in keeping poultry productive through the cold winter.
So you want to raise turkeys
February 14 from 7 to 8 p.m. Eastern Time
After enjoying turkey for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas are you having thoughts of raising your own for 2013? Jacquie Jacob will host a discussion on what is involved in raising a home turkey flock.
Heavy metals and backyard poultry flocks
March 28 from 7 to 8 p.m. Eastern Time
An article in the New York Times reported the New York State Health Department found lead in more than half the eggs from chickens kept in community gardens in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens. A panel of specialists will discuss heavy metals and backyard poultry products.
According to the 2007 Ag Census there are more than 143,000 farms with egg production flocks of less than 20,000 hens, up 49 percent from 2002 when the previous Ag census was completed. There were 125,195 farms with less than 50 hens, up 51 percent from 2002. There were also more than 2,500 farms selling replacement pullets, more than 10,000 farms selling less than 16,000 broilers, and more than 5,500 farms selling less than 2,000 turkeys each year.
The poultry resource area on eXtension is led by Jacquie Jacob, Poultry Extension Associate at the University of Kentucky; Anne Fanatico, Assistant Professor at Appalachian State University in North Carolina; Jesse Lyons, Poultry Extension Associate at the University of Missouri; and Brigid McCrea, Assistant Professor at Delaware State University.
About eXtension eXtension is part of Cooperative Extension, a nationwide, non-credit educational network. Each U.S. state and territory has a state office at its land-grant university and a network of local or regional offices. eXtension experts provide unbiased information in more than 50 resource areas including agriculture and animals, community and economics, energy and environment, health and nutrition, home and family, and yard and garden. eXtension is an educational resource that takes university-based research and turns it into practical information people can use to solve today’s problems and develop skills to build a better future. Follow eXtension on Facebook and on Twitter.
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