Workshop teaches success in managing chickens at home

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

LITTLE ROCK -- If you have a chicken coop or are just contemplating raising chickens in your own backyard, the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, P. Allen Smith, Purina and the Heritage Poultry Conservancy will show you how.

Join Smith and Mikelle Roeder, Dustin Clark and Keith Bramwell for the Backyard Poultry Workshop from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at P. Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm in Roland, near Little Rock, on Saturday, April 20. Tickets are $90 per person and include lunch.

"Raising chickens in your backyard has really gotten popular because, when compared with other pets, it's easy and inexpensive to maintain," said. Keith Bramwell, extension poultry specialist with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. "You also get fresh eggs and the world's best fertilizer, and a great way to teach and learn with your kids."

Workshop participants will learn from experts about how to get a flock started, expanding your flock from eggs, and conservation of heritage breeds. You'll also learn about best practices for best results in beginning and maintaining your chicken flock, selecting a breed, preventing and treating pests and disease, and the basics of reproduction, including genetics, fertility and incubation.

"Raising poultry is a passion of mine," Smith said. "I raised chickens in the city for years before raising them on my farm, and because they can thrive in backyards and many breeds are kid friendly, chickens are an increasingly popular addition to households in urban areas. And chickens are infinitely amusing to watch!" said Smith, an award-winning designer, gardening and lifestyle expert.

Smith, a gardening and lifestyle expert, TV personality and author, developed an interest in poultry during his childhood when he learned about the assortment of breeds available and their various attributes. While most people have seen the plain white poultry that commercial breeders produce for meat or eggs, not all are aware that chickens boast a spectrum of plumages and dispositions. Smith's passion led him to create the Heritage Poultry Conservancy, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving all threatened breeds of domestic poultry through education, stewardship and good breeding practices. He has had years of experience successfully raising poultry ranging from geese, chickens, swans and ducks and believes they are ideal livestock for a homestead of any size. 
In addition to presentations, participants in the workshop will be able to ask questions and consult with a panel of speakers a round table. If you are truly motivated, you can buy hatching eggs, chicks and adult poultry at the workshop to begin your backyard coop immediately.

"The Cooperative Extension Service, Purina and Heritage Poultry Conservancy worked with Allen to ensure this workshop appeals to everyone from the new keeper to the professional," Bramwell said.

To make reservations, call 501-519-5793 or e-mail gardenhome@pallensmith.com. Space is limited.

For more information about the Backyard Poultry Workshop, visit extension's Web site, www.uaex.edu, www.PAllenSmith.com or contact your county extension agent. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the U of A Division of Agriculture.

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