Submitted By Northern Nevada Poultry Fanciers Association |
There’s nothing better than cracking an egg into a hot skillet with the knowledge that, “Yes, this is a healthy egg.” Why? Because you know its source…your own backyard!
Many people are concerned about the source of their food; and rightly so, with the current scare of salmonella enteritidis and its resulting large scale recall of shell eggs.
From the family next door to Hollywood celebrities, the “backyard chicken fancier” is on the rise. This is exciting news in this modern pre-packaged culture, where most people haven’t even laid eyes on a living chicken.
The chicken: a funny cackling flouncy bird that is so important to humans, they actually outnumber us on earth. Not that they themselves had anything to say or do about it; but rather by man’s doing, and his never ending appetite for them.
Since the mid 1800’s, the industry and development of mass producing chickens for our consumption grew to incorporate science and technology. It’s the “science” part, with its hormones and antibiotics, not to mention the inhumane stress on the creatures, that concerns today’s health conscious consumer.
Here in Northern Nevada, a serious group of Chicken advocates or “Chicken lovers,” is dedicated to educating and supporting those who want to raise their own little flock. They are the Northern Nevada Poultry Fanciers Association (NNPFA), founded in the spring of 2004 by Cliff and Kathy Lewis of Silver Springs.
At that time, the country, or at least most of the southwestern United States, was trying to recover from the Exotic Newcastle disease, which caused entire poultry flocks to be destroyed; buildings burned to eradicate the highly contagious epidemic. It became very important to learn and share accurate information on how to raise healthy poultry, and how to implement safeguards to keep them healthy.
The NNPFA, considered as Nevada’s chicken authorities, host Nevada’s largest Poultry show each fall and give poultry clinics throughout the region. Accredited by the American Poultry Association (APA) and the American Bantam Association (ABA), members of the club are great sources from which to purchase purebred chicks, show quality chicks, meat and eggs birds, fresh eggs and to get information and support.
Raising your own chickens takes preplanning and work, but the benefits are worth it. Your efforts will reward you with wholesome and nutritious eggs and meat.
Another benefit: poultry manure. It is the richest animal manure in N-P-K (N-Nitrogen, P-Phosphorous Acid, K-Potash). Chicken manure is considered “hot” and must be composted before adding it to the garden or it will burn your young plants.
Looking for more benefits? Chickens will eat all the bugs in the yard, plus their cackling in alarm makes them great as watch dogs! Despite popular opinion, they’re pretty smart, with personalities to boot. In a happy safe environment, the chicken is a priceless and entertaining commodity.
So, you want to start a flock…how and where do you start? Is that little yellow fluff ball you brought home for Easter just going to magically grow up and start pushing out eggs next week? Well, almost, but not without your dedication and commitment.
First, you need to check with your City’s zoning ordinances.
In Reno, call 775-321-8309 and
in Sparks call 775- 353-4067.
Next, determine the space you can provide for their coop, the run and the free-range area for them to be able to root and scratch naturally.
A general rule of thumb for having adequate space for standard breeds is 4 sq ft of indoor coop floor area per chicken, and 10 sq ft of yard space per chicken. Some people provide much less space per chicken and they do survive it, but it’s not the best living conditions for them. People who allow chickens to roam/free range a larger yard or pasture or property on a regular basis can certainly get away with less enclosed yard space. Overcrowding chickens can raise their stress level, which can lead to health problems down the line. The best thing you can do for your chickens is to give them as much area as you can and ignore the minimums.
The security factor is extremely important, with fencing needed 5 to 6 feet tall to keep out crafty predators. Looking after your poultry’s welfare from chick, to pullet to laying hen also includes attention to their feed, of which there are organic varieties available. They’ll gobble up all sorts of table scraps from spaghetti to fish, bread, fruit and popcorn. Access to clean water, keeping them disease free and safe from harmful plants and pesticides, are also very important aspects of their care. Sunlight plays a huge part in egg production, shade for comfort, dirt for bathing and a cozy coop with clean nesting boxes finishes up with the basics.
Once this becomes routine, you’ll be able to kick back and reap the harvest year after year. Nothing’s more relaxing than to sit and watch your flock in the yard with their gentle bustling about, beautiful colored feathers, and to hear their crazy cooing and cackling. It seems like Heaven on earth. Kids love chickens and your neighbors will too, unless you have an obnoxious rooster. Of course the best part is to know that you are feeding your family the highest quality eggs on the block.
Raising your own chickens is definitely a fun-feathered adventure, with a healthy ending.
For more info, contact the Northern Nevada Poultry Fanciers Association online at www.wix.com/poultryfancier/nnpfa.com