Emily Morrow provided advice to wannabe backyard chicken farmers at Shepherd last week. Courtesy photo

Want to Raise Chickens? Here’s How

For anyone who has a hankering to raise chickens in their backyard, Emily Morrow has some advice. Morrow, the Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent in WVU Extension Service, Jefferson County, gave a how-to talk at Shepherd University’s Byrd Auditorium last Wednesday, Oct. 20. Morrow specializes in nutrient management, horticulture, and youth agriculture.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more people have been interested in raising chickens as a new source for fresh eggs. Having a farming background, she thinks the important way to spread the word is through presentations with crucial information.

“It’s important for people to understand [chickens] are a type of livestock and a large time commitment, more so than a dog or cat, and can live just as long.”

The WVU Extension Service is set up within all 55 counties. However, not all counties have agriculture agents, but they do have come up with many educational sources. For example, they hold classes for beginning gardening, herbs, poultry, geared toward beginners, and more advanced topics for existing producers.

Morrow makes many home visits for those interested in raising chickens. First, she checks to see if HOA rules allow for chickens. She then inspects your yard to see how much space you have, and if there are any predators nearby.

She also evaluates your goals with the chickens. Are you seeking fresh eggs, chicken, or something completely different? Emily explained how to buy chickens as well: they can be bought online and local farm supply stores.

She outlined the process of hatching the chickens. Repeatedly, she addressed the time consumption within the process hatching them, especially taking care of them when they’re adults.

“Backyard poultry are enjoyable “pets” that provide a real reward in their eggs and spunky personalities,” she said.

She also discussed how to identify the characteristics of the chickens. Pictures and videos of them were provided of some of her very own chickens. Plus, tips on DIY options if that is the better path for some.   

Emily’s enthusiasm and interaction with those attending showed very clearly. If there was a concern an audience member had, she gladly answered their question and addressed everyone else in the room. There was not a single thing that the attendees did not lose interest in because they were enwrapped by how much she showed care and passion.

“My biggest advice is if you’re thinking about backyard poultry, sit on the thought for a month or more. If you’re still passionate about it after that time, begin the planning process with setting up a coop, researching breeds, setting up a brooder, and making the jump once farm supply stores have chicks in the spring.”

For questions, you can reach out to Emily Morrow by going here.

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