Ron Lauster, Director of the Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) says, “He remembers at the beginning of the Lone Ranger TV show, the opening lines included the phrase return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear”. Ron continues, “I don’t know if it is thrilling or not, but we have been getting more people contacting our office asking about raising chickens”. Just like rain barrels coming back from the past, we now have more people interested in gardening, and yes, some even want to raise chickens. Apparently backyard poultry is a growing trend throughout the US. Raising chickens is becoming more popular as Americans seek a direct connection to their food. So, if you’re interested in raising chickens, you may want to seek some basic assistance. Start by going to the “Back Yard Chickens” website at http://www.backyardchickens.com . The site also offers a “Raising Chickens 101 page at: http://www.backyardchickens.com/raising-chickens-basics.php which provides a lot of great basic information, including the care for the first 60 days and later after you get your flock established. Homeowners are first reminded to check with local government zoning and homeowner association requirements before they begin bringing home roosters and hens.
A few of the most frequently expressed reasons people raise chickens are- They are easy and inexpensive to maintain (when compared to most other pets); their eggs are fresh, great-tasting & nutritious; they provide chemical-free bug and weed control; and they manufacture the worlds best fertilizer. Some say they are fun & friendly pets with personality (yes, you read that right). Whether you raise poultry for meat and eggs or because you want to show your birds at fairs and festivals; whether you have a big flock or a few hens, keeping them healthy is a priority. Give the birds sufficient space, keep their area clean, keep food and water covered and change them daily. It also is important to keep predators away from your birds and minimize the contact your poultry has with wild birds. Additional information about raising chickens is also available from your local Purdue Extension Service office. In Marion County their web site is at: http://www.ag.purdue.edu/counties/marion and phone number is 317-275-9305
As the number of backyard chickens increases, so does the need to educate owners about keeping their flocks healthy. That’s why the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (USDA/APHIS) “Biosecurity for Birds” campaign is renewing its efforts to provide concise and helpful tips to prevent the spread of infectious bird diseases such as avian influenza (AI). USDA- Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) reminds owners to keep their birds healthy and free of disease: Restrict access to your property and birds. Wash your hands with soap, water and disinfectant before and after working with your birds. Clean and disinfect your clothes, shoes, equipment and hands after handling your flock. Do not share tools or equipment with other owners and know the warning signs of bird diseases. For more chicken safety details visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/birdbiosecurity.