Crowd talks chicken at Farmer's Union

Chad Cash, a Purina representative, presented information on the chicken life, and took questions from current and wannabe backyard farmers.

With a cluck and a cock-a-doodle-do occasionally emanating from two dog crates, a seminar on raising chickens went off without a ruffle last Tuesday night. Farmer’s Union Co-op Pet and Farm Supply hosted “Chicken Chat”, with live chickens and a rooster right up front to remind attendees why they were there.

The informative session included discussions from planning a flock to taking the proper steps to assure a steady supply of eggs or even meat. Over 20 people were interested in what it took to be a successful private entrepreneur.

“We are hosting this because of the interest in backyard farming,” said retail manager Shannon Carbaugh. “Families want to raise their own eggs. Maybe they’ll get one cow.”

Dwayne Wingert already had a few years of experience with fowl. He still came because “hopefully not as many of my chickens will die.”

Justin and Alicia Eby brought their daughter Cheyenne, 3.  The topic piqued their curiosity.

“I’d rather have my own flock and fresh eggs than buy them in the store,” said Alicia Eby.

Barrie Hawk and his daughter Abigail, 11, already had pigs because of her involvement in the 4-H Swine Club.

“We’re going to chickens this year, too,” Hawk said. “We can have bacon and eggs together.”

Chad Cash, a representative from Purina, enthusiastically supported any move to raise chickens. His own family had raised them “in a rabbit hutch in suburbia” when he was a child.

The effort would produce food as well as entertainment.

“They are fun to watch, absolutely hilarious, the things they get into.”

Cash gave instructions on establishing an optimal living environment, and information on predators, feeding, health, behavior and breeds.

The Fast Broiler, good for meat, would be six pounds in six weeks. The Rhode Island Red laid the most eggs. The Barred Rock gave large brown eggs. The Buff Orpington made good pets. The Ameraucana produced Easter egg-colored eggs in pastel blue, green, even pink. And ducks and turkeys also had a place for the backyard farmer.

People were invited to submit their chick orders to Farmer’s Union, with delivery in April.

Sales associate Teresa Reihart called the event a success.

“It went really well. It was very informative, and all the people seemed pleased.”