Friday, February 22, 2013

4-H Chick Sale in San Jose

Passing along this Chick Sale announcement from the 4-H here in Silicon Valley. As I'm watching the usual online sources for mail-order chicks, it seems we're going into yet another high-demand spring for chickens in the backyard. Glad to see the 4-H kids helping to increase the population of urban chickens here in the Bay Area.

Have another 4-H chick sale you want to promote? Share your details in the comments below.

Flickr photo by ccarlstead
Saturday, March 9th
Saturday, April 27th
from 10am to 11:30am

Sam's Downtown Feed and Pet Supply Store
759 W San Carlos, San Jose

What breeds?
  • Buff Orpingtons
  • Rhode Island Reds
  • Americaunas
  • Golden-Laced Wyandottes
  • Black Austrolorps
  • Light Brahmas (March only)
  • White Leghorns (April only)
How much?
$5.00 per chick

To reserve chicks, you may contact us at 4hpoultryproject [at] gmail [dot] com. Pre-order forms also can be found at Sam's Feed. We strongly recommend doing so--they go pretty fast on sale day! The deadline for forms is Feb. 28th.

The chicks will be ten days old at the sale date. They are sexed at the hatchery and vaccinated for Merek's disease.

Any questions? 4hpoultryproject [at] gmail [dot] com

Thanks for supporting 4-H!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Backyard Chicken Survey by UC Davis

Happy Valentine's Day, dear readers.

I wanted to take a moment to request your assistance and inform you of some important work being done by the Center for Animal Welfare at UC Davis.

They are in the process of evaluation of the health and well being of our backyard chicken populations.  They're seeking your input on developing outreach materials for people who have backyard chickens.

If you have chickens, they would like you to spend 20 minutes taking the following survey (it took me about 12 minutes to practice completing it). The goal of this survey is to target the best types of outreach materials and understand what backyard chicken owners really need to know.

There is an opportunity for you to win one of twenty $50 gift cards if you are to share your contact information: instructions are on the last page of the survey.  Regardless, your survey will be kept confidential and your anonymity will be guaranteed at all times.

To take the survey, please go to

Your participation will help make the art of raising urban chickens better for all of us. Thanks, in advance, for your help!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Growing Your Own Urban Chicken Feed

Flickr photo credit: MrsEds
One of the benefits to raising urban chickens is their willingness to eat just about any food scraps tossed their way and turning that food into delicious eggs.

A quick "chicken feed" search of YouTube videos shows all kinds of variety in what we're feeding our backyard girls: Army Worms, redworms, herbs, special grain grasses, home-milled seeds and grains. Vegetable trash from the local coop grocery, brewery waste, and many others make the list, too.

While commercially produced feeds are available to us urban chicken farmers, the girls seem to do better when they're eating more than what comes from the bag. But is this really good for our chooks?

I've been talking with a formally trained Ag Professional named Jim Ehle who's doing research into how urban chicken farmers are supplementing commercial rations with other fed options. If you supplement commercially produced feed (or skip it altogether) for your urban chickens, Jim would like to hear from you via email. Specifically, what are you feeding them, and is it good for them?

Of course, I'm always happy to have folks share their wisdom here in the comments, and Jim offers to identify and make reference to all that respond if he uses their information in his report/white paper. Also, he will provide a link to your blog, business, or website as a way to say thanks for providing your experiences.

Thank you in advance for sharing your urban chicken feed experiences! 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Calling All Chicken Busters

Now Casting Chicken Hunters in Miami
Back in 2009, I posted about a select group of people in Miami charged with rounding up all the loose chickens in their city. These Chicken Busters had raised over $10,000 for charity at the time I wrote of them.

Now, the folks at TwoFour productions are looking for their own set of Chicken Busters for a major television channel. I had a chance to chat with the producers and this is what they shared:

The TV channel is seeking competitive, outgoing and skilled hunters and trappers of chickens, pigeons and ducks.

This documentary series will follow the lives and adventures of skilled chicken hunters with big personalities as they search the streets of Miami and South Florida catching feral chickens and other problem pests to make serious cash.

If you feel you have what it takes, the producers want to hear from you! Send an email to that includes:
  • your name
  • your email
  • your cell number
  • a recent photo
  • a brief explanation of why you would be great to follow for this tv series.
And if you don't think this role is right for you, but you know someone who'd fit the bill, please share this post with them!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Finding Medical Help for Urban Chickens

Medical Station sign
Flickr photo courtesy Bruce Tuten
Not so long ago, it was nigh-well impossible to find a local veterinarian to care for a chicken in distress.

In 2008, vets might have had some experience with house birds (think: parakeets, parrots, etc), but those specializing in ailments relating to poultry were decidedly not setting up shop in an urban setting. Those vets were out by the farms where they had millions of potential patients.

But one of the signs that urban chickens are approaching mainstream is the urban ecosystem that has formed around the care and feeding of pet chickens. This ecosystem is still in its infancy, as finding a veterinarian who knows a thing or three about chickens is still a task best suited for email lists that light up with "HELP! anyone know a vet...?" requests when a hen is in distress.

Here in the Bay Area, a recent email chain on the Silicon Valley Chickens Yahoo! group ferreted out the following vets as being knowledgeable and chicken-friendly:
If you're not here in the Bay Area, how do you go about finding help for your girls?

NOTE: If you know of any others that should be added to the list above, don't hesitate to let me know and I'll update this post.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Would You Go to Chicken Training Camp?

Flickr photo credit: jcolman
Did you know you could go to chicken training camp this summer? Yes, you read that right: chicken training camp.

While the idea sounds a tad eccentric, a bit of digging reveals that training chickens is a no-nonsense endeavor, especially for those that are training themselves to handle other animals.

Legacy Canine (a dog training school) is running a series of chicken training camps this year, and here's how they got into the chicken business:

Legacy has been hosting dog training camps since the 1980’s.  In the old days the camps had 120 participants, many from overseas.  Terry decided that a convenient on-site training model should be provided for people flying in and unable to bring their dogs.  For several years Legacy campers trained rats in Skinner boxes.  In the early 90’s Ingrid Kang Shallenberger (Sea Life Park) and Terry Ryan, began using bantam chickens as training models at Legacy camps... In 1994 Terry asked Marian Breland-Bailey and Bob Bailey to share their years of animal training experience with Legacy campers.  For several years Marian and Bob taught the chicken unit at Legacy Camps.  Terry has included chickens in her current instructor’s courses “Coaching People to Train Their Dogs” and conducts one-day “Poultry in Motion” chicken training workshops.  Bob Bailey retired in 2008 from teaching his continuing education series of U.S. based chicken training workshops.
Now, we urban chicken farmers know our chickens to be intelligent creatures, but I have to admit even I was taken aback at finding out hens are used by click-trainers to hone their skills for use on other non-poultry species.

And hey, what could match the joy of adding "certified Chicken Trainer" to one's CV underneath the heading "Urban Chicken Farmer"?

BONUS reading for those of you already intrigued by animal training, here's an insightful white paper entitled "The Misbehavior of Organisms?"


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