Signing up for Chicken University
Alaskans are flocking to learn more about chickens. Classes about raising chickens for their eggs or meat have been popular around the state.
Juneau Extension agent Darren Snyder coordinated the second annual Juneau Chicken Summit in April 2013. Seventy residents came to hear about the basics of raising chickens, flock management, diseases and composting manure. They also participated in a self-guided “tour de coop” of area coops and saw a butchering demonstration.
Changes in community ordinances, including those in Juneau and Anchorage, that allow residents to raise more hens within the city have increased interest in chickens, as has the local foods movement, says Snyder. Most Juneau residents raise chickens for their eggs.
This past year, Palmer agent Steve Brown presented his two-hour Chicken University class to more than 400 Alaskans in eight communities, from Kodiak to Nome. The class covers the care and feeding of chickens. While a few individuals are interested in raising chickens for the meat, most want the fresh eggs, he says. “Once they’ve had homegrown eggs, they can’t go back to a store-bought egg.”
- Fairbanks agent Mara Bacsujlaky who raises chickens, has started a blog called Alaska Backyard Chickens aimed at individuals with small backyard flocks. She posts information, resources and anecdotes about her experiences.
- Our Winter Chickens DVD with Mara Bacsujlaky offers “the down and dirty of keeping laying hens through an Alaska winter,” with information on housing, feed, bedding and costs.
- Our publication, Safe Egg Handling for Small Egg-Laying Flocks and Operations, promotes egg safety from the hen to the consumer.