Thinking about backyard poultry?

photo of chickens


WASHINGTON — A new Web resource on provides research-based, up-to-date information on poultry production for small- to medium-sized production and backyard flocks.

It may seem a new trend to raise chickens in the backyard or purchase locally grown eggs and poultry, but chickens have been raised in this country for eggs and meat since the first English colonists came on the Mayflower in 1620.

In recent years, small-scale poultry and egg production made a comeback in the U.S. as some Americans wanted a direct connection to their food. Raising chickens in the backyard became popular as did small production flocks of 500 to 20,000 birds per year (the maximum annual meat chicken sales allowed without USDA inspection).

Making informed decisions about management and keeping birds healthy are important whether you raise poultry for your own use, show birds at fairs or are raising a flock as a business.


The Small and Backyard Flock resource on has information on getting started as well as poultry anatomy, behavior, biology and management. The site includes more than 250 frequently asked questions and more than 350 terms in a glossary.

And it’s not just chickens. There’s information on ducks, turkeys, geese and other poultry breeds.

The information on is written by leading university scientists who study and conduct poultry research. All content has undergone rigorous reviews and is trustworthy and easy to understand. University researchers and educators from 18 states contributed and reviewed information.

Webinars planned

In addition to the website, the experts at are hosting free webinars on small and backyard flocks.

Jan. 15 from 7 to 8 p.m. Eastern Time. Winter care of small and backyard flocks.

Most poultry can handle cold weather if they are sheltered from wind and kept dry. To keep hens laying, however, requires light supplementation.

Jacquie Jacob, poultry Extension associate at the University of Kentucky, will discuss what is involved in keeping poultry productive through the cold winter.

Feb. 14 from 7 to 8 p.m. Eastern Time. So you want to raise turkeys. After enjoying turkey for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas are you having thoughts of raising your own for 2013? Jacquie Jacob will host a discussion on what is involved in raising a home turkey flock.

March 28 from 7 to 8 p.m. Eastern Time. Producing poultry meat on pastures.

There has been an increased demand for pasture-raised meat including poultry. Learn about a variety of issues related to raising poultry on pasture.

According to the 2007 Ag Census, there were 125,195 farms with less than 50 hens in 2007, up 51 percent from 2002, and more than 5,500 farms selling less than 2,000 turkeys each year.

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