Two weeks ago, I got to teach yet another class on raising backyard chickens. In the past, my classes have mainly been for kids. But this time, the participants were all adults and either planning on or investigating the possibilities of starting their own coop!
Our 14 participants were mainly from intown neighborhoods and ranged from young to old, single and married. There were definitely several people who were using the class to convince their spouse that raising chickens is a good idea.
In comparison to other classes on raising chickens, I design mine to be practical and hands-on. The classroom is my backyard (which I covered with a tarp on this drizzly day), and the first thing we do is let the chickens roam among the chairs and make sure each person starts out by learning to hold a chicken.
As usual, Spilly, our blind chicken, got the most lovin’:
We looked closely at coop construction, methods of watering and feeding the birds, measures to protect the chickens from predators. We discussed flock-sizes, daily routines, feeding kitchen scraps to your flock, uses of chicken poop.
The participants had great questions and it was lots of fun for me because I could see that they were analyzing every topic we covered, figuring out how they’d, for example, protect their own birds from hawks.
Whenever I could, I’d demonstrate a technique (such as clipping the birds’ wings, as you see in this photo) rather than just explain it. The participants got to watch me run in circles trying to catch our Ameraucana (named Bully Hawk). We passed around chicken feed and oyster shells. We fed the birds bread. We built a homemade waterer from a bucket and planter.
After my presentation, many questions and plenty of chicken-chasing, we went on our tour. The participants got to meet three very different chicken-owners and see a wide-variety of coops. Most of the chicken-owners on the tour built their coops themselves, using mostly scrap wood (as did my wife & father-in-law). One coop had seven birds, another had twenty. I think the tour helped the participants really visualize how they will bring chickens to their own backyards.
To date, at least three participants have ordered chicks (one ordered 25 and wants to share!) My cousin in Memphis even called me the evening of the class and asked me for advice, because she’s going to start a flock. And I’m still hearing from people who are excited about taking the next class I teach. Another is not scheduled until the fall, but if we get enough interest, I might be able to teach another in mid-May. Contact me!