Chief of Staff, Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR)
Want the best tasting locally grown omelet, deviled egg or soufflé ever? DAR’s Animal Health poultry field inspector Megan Megrath says raising backyard chickens might be for you.
Over the past few years DAR has seen a steady increase in the number of families raising small flocks. Megan has seen children as young as four years old tending to a flock including Christopher, the son of one of DAR’s field inspectors, pictured above.
Chickens reach laying age around 24 weeks and a small flock of six birds should lay four to five eggs per day. There are over 100 recognized breeds of chickens. The most common breeds are Rhode Island Reds and Barred Plymouth Rocks.
The pictured breed is an Americana, also known as the Easter egg bird. Their eggs are normally bluish-green.
Not sure what kind of chicken you would like to raise? Check out the Northeastern Poultry Congress show happening this weekend, January 16 and 17, 2010 in West Springfield at the BIG E Fairgrounds. This event draws poultry enthusiasts from all over the state. Click here for more information about the poultry show.
Here are a few things to consider about tending chickens. Chickens need shelter from the elements (wind, rain, snow) and an ample supply of fresh, clean feed and water. If you wish to have a steady supply of fresh eggs during the winter months, supplemental lighting will also be necessary. Make sure to check with local city or town officials about complying with local bylaws, ordinances, or permits.
People who have birds for the purpose of selling hatching eggs, chicks or adult birds, or those that have birds kept for participating in poultry shows must have their flocks blood-tested by DAR. The test checks for Salmonella pullorum and Avian Influenza and is provided for free by DAR. Click here for more information about testing.