Raising poultry at home demands producers’ attention to details

April 7, 2014
Contact Information:

Dave Edmark, Agricultural Communication Services
479-575-6940 / dedmark@uark.edu

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valerie gunsaulis

Valerie Gunsaulis illustrates on a whiteboard to explain standards of poultry judging during a seminar in Fayetteville for home poultry producers.
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audience at poultry seminar

About 40 people turned out April 3 for a University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture seminar on home poultry production at the Pauline Whitaker Animal Science center in Fayetteville.
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Backyard poultry enthusiasts need to become familiar with the various problems that larger producers also face, but they have a few that are peculiar to their situations at home. For example, poultry producers generally need to guard against predators, but the backyard producers must consider additional angles: “Is the dog looking after my chickens or is he looking after his chickens?” asked Johnny Gunsaulis, a Cooperative Extension Service agent in the Washington County office.

Gunsaulis was among the speakers April 3 at a seminar sponsored by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture that attracted about 40 Northwest Arkansas people interested in learning more about how to raise poultry at home.

The activity is now one of the fastest growing hobbies in the nation, said Dustan Clark, Extension poultry health veterinarian. People raise poultry at home for different reasons with some interested in producing eggs, others just wanting them as pets and some seeking to exhibit them at county fairs.

Besides dealing with predators – including aerial ones such as hawks – producers at home must determine how to handle other issues, Clark said. They need to decide whether to raise their poultry in a fixed house or a moveable house. There are also minimum space guidelines per bird for each breed.

Poultry health is a big concern for all producers, who need to be aware of flock behavior that could indicate problems. Smaller flocks can have different diseases and problems than those found in commercial flocks. Producers should raise their birds’ resistance to disease through vaccination, proper nutrition, reduction of stress and controlling parasites.

“A sanitation and disinfection program is essential for any poultry grower,” Clark said. Rodent control and a supply of clean water and feed are also important elements of an appropriate environment.

Clark said some of the questions, other than diseases, brought to his attention by small flock owners include loss of eggs, loss of feathers, diarrhea, parasites, egg binding in the birds and nutritional issues. Producers who encounter any problems should contact a local veterinarian or a county extension agent.