Monday, June 21, 2010

Always Wanted to Raise Chickens? Learn How!


BARRE, MA – On Saturday, July 10, in five locations in every region of Massachusetts, Northeast Organic Farming Association/ Massachusetts Chapter (NOFA/Mass), is sponsoring five simultaneous workshops on how to raise backyard poultry. In Barre, Julie Rawson and Jack Kittredge will teach a workshop on the basics of raising backyard poultry at Many Hands Organic Farm on 411 Sheldon Road from 9am to 3pm. Workshop registration is $40 and open to the public on a first come, first served basis.

Workshop registration for the Barre Workshop is $40. There is a $5 discount for NOFA members and a $5 discount for those who register by June 26. For information on how to register, visit, or contact Ben Grosscup 413-658-5374 . In addition to Barre, workshops are also being held in the following communities: Concord, Acushnet, Hatfield, and Huntington.

Rawson and Kittredge who will be teaching the workshop in Barre raise 450 broilers, 75 layers and 60 turkeys in a certified organic free range system, and have raised poultry for over 25 years. In their workshop, participants will spend the day with young chicks and turkey poults in the brooding house and adult layers and broilers in the field. Topics covered include field and permanent housing, pasture management, organic and soy-free feed, rotations, equipment, marketing, and performing hands-on slaughter.

Rawson says, “I have been collecting eggs since 1985, and everyday when I go to collect them, I get an intense feeling of satisfaction that I’m collecting my breakfast for the next morning. The taste of homegrown organic eggs and chicken is unbeatable. It’s heartwarming to me when a customer writes me to say that her 84-year old mother hasn’t had chicken that good since she was a child.”

“People are almost frantic to raise their own food after seeing movies like Food Inc. People are realizing that food that is raised in the corporate agribusiness system is dangerous for their health and that of their children.”

Rawson who is also NOFA/Mass Executive Director, has been teaching workshops on backyard poultry for years. “Sharing the knowledge people need to raise their own food has been the mission of NOFA since it began more than 30 years ago. Today, with the economic and ecological crises that we're in, I think a lot of people are once again turning toward backyard poultry because it is cost efficient and it’s a great way to improve our food security.”

Raising backyard poultry has been gaining in popularity in Massachusetts. Chicken supply stores all across the state report a major spike in business. Joleen Jurczyk who works at the Greenfield Farmer’s Cooperative Exchange compared the first of three orders for baby chicks between 2009 and 2010: “Last year there were around 800 chicks in one order and this year there were 1,800 chicks in that same order. It’s been an extraordinary increase.”

“Whenever there’s a lot of new people coming into a new hobby like this all at once, there can be a bit of a learning curve to climb,” said Ben Grosscup, Extension Events Coordinator for NOFA/Mass. “These workshops emphasize raising poultry in a way that is healthy for the birds and for the people eating their eggs and meat. These workshops are for people who are new at raising backyard birds and looking for some pointers from experts for having a successful year.”

“Raising chickens for food is a great way to save money while also making you directly aware of where your food comes from,” said Grosscup. “Whether it’s the backyard garden or the backyard chicken coop, taking responsibility for where our food comes from is on the rise.”

About NOFA/Mass
NOFA/Mass (Northeast Organic Farming Association, Massachusetts Chapter) is a community including farmers, gardeners, landscapers and consumers working to educate members and the general public about the benefits of local organic systems based on complete cycles, natural materials, and minimal waste for the health of individual beings, communities and the living planet. The NOFA/Mass office is located at 411 Sheldon Road in Barre, MA 01005; telephone is (978) 355-2853. Visit for much more information.

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