Backyard Chicken Class 101 March 7, 2013
I recently taught my first backyard chicken class–what a blast! Over the years, I’ve answered a lot of chicken-related questions, but I find that hands-on demonstrations really help with in-depth understanding.
This was the first official chicken class I’ve taught… but honestly I’ve taught “unofficially” for years. For instance, we’ve had guests and friends to our property numerous times who wandered straight over to the chicken pens, and immediately started asking questions. Several of the people I helped unofficially are now happy chicken owners. It sure makes me feel good to help them get started, so that led me to put together my very first chicken class.
What I see is that a lot of people interested in chickens buy reference books to help them get started, but find them lacking. Later they find themselves buying yet another book looking for answers. Here’s where I can let you in on a little secret: Because we’ve deal with people every day who have read the books and still have questions, we’re in the best position to fix it. The My Pet Chicken Handbook is expected to be released January of 2014, and then we’ll have the perfect how-to book to recommend. I can’t wait! But even so, there’s something to be said for a real hands-on class.
I have to admit, I really enjoy personally bringing people over to the “chicken side.” If you’ve met me, you know I could go on and on about my wonderful birds. Some people think I’m crazy, which I accept, and others just blame me for their new found chicken obsession.
Last weekend was the chicken class; I guess I decided I’d get people hooked on raising chickens in large groups rather than one at a time! So through word of mouth, we had a good size of group of some wonderful families, ready to get their foot in the coop door. The feathered girls and I were so pleased to get to show off their awesomeness. Mother Nature wasn’t as cooperative, and decided to rain on our parade… but the families that came braved the weather anyway.
Our chicken class covered basic information such as raising baby chicks, choosing a breed, coop space and healthcare. There were also lots of great questions that brought up topics often missed in books and guides. In addition, students in our chicken class got to see real backyard eggs in many different colors and shapes. Plus, everyone got the chance to see how to tell if a cracked egg is fertile, as well as the reproductive tract of a hen. Even our rooster ‘Butch’ got to show off all the positives of having a rooster. He was well-behaved as always, demonstrating that the idea that all roosters are mean and loud is a misconception.
Chicken class students also got to see what all the different types of feed looked like, and what chickens’ feeding needs were through their life span… not to mention that they learned about all the things they could look for in a bird to see if the diet was lacking anything.
Having a backyard chicken class was a perfect way to see that not everyone has the same needs or expectations for their flock. Some people need productivity, while others just wanted pets good with kids. Some of the chicken class attendees wanted to raise chicks and get the full experience, but others wanted to start with young pullets and get right to the eggs. I got the chance to lay out all their options, and I think everyone was so pleased they had so many choices.
The chicken class ran over in time! On paper we were aiming for 2 hours, but there was just so much to cover and so much to see that we ran over an hour. I’ll be planning more appropriately next time when scheduling! And there will definitely be a next time. Everyone had such a great time, how can I not want to do it again?
Have you had the opportunity to take a course in caring for backyard chickens? Or do you look back and wish you’d had the chance to take a chicken class before you got started?