ROCKPORT — The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will offer Backyard Basics – Raising Chickens, from 10 a.m. to noon May 3 to help residents learn the best ways to raise chickens in the Coastal Bend and to build community support for families who want to raise laying hens.
The class will be held at the AgriLife Extension office for Aransas County, 892 Airport Road in Rockport. The cost is $20 per household, payable in person or by mail on or before May 3 at the AgriLife Extension office.
Each attending household will receive two free chicks specially bred for the area by Four Strings Farms, as well as a 10-episode CD produced by Wholesome Heritage Garden on raising chickens, according to Kirsten Corda, AgriLife Extension family and consumer sciences agent in Aransas County.
“Everywhere I go, I meet people who have chickens, but it’s not something people normally talk about,” said Corda. “I believe it is time we get this issue about chickens in Aransas County out into the open, and just after Easter is the perfect time to offer this Backyard Basics class.”
The featured speaker will be Justin Butts who, with his wife Kayla, owns Four String Farm, which produces pastured pork and poultry, fresh eggs, herbs and seasonal vegetables, all sold through Coastal Bend Health Food Store in Rockport, Corda said.
“Mr. Butts knows about raising chickens,” she said. “And he has such an engaging personality that I know people will feel comfortable voicing their questions and concerns.”
Butts is well-known locally as author and narrator of “The Wholesome Heritage Garden,” a radio program that airs on KTEX-FM Public Radio, Corda said.
“Their website, www.fourstringfarm.com, tells their story of starting their heritage garden six years ago,” she said. “Now they have a thriving business raising animals without the use of hormones, steroids or antibiotics, and they farm without chemical fertilizers or pesticides.”
Backyard chickens provide fresh eggs and free insect control, but they also require commitment, Corda said.
“Backyard Basics-Raising Chickens is designed to teach everyone something new about managing a flock of chickens in urban areas. The classes are meant to promote the art of self-reliance, which starts with connecting people to resources such as the Butts’ family. This class is expected to build supportive friendships and contacts.”
Other speakers include local producers who will present best examples of housing and feeding the birds, as well as an open discussion of caring and protecting chickens from predators.
AgriLife Extension’s Backyard Basics is a statewide initiative that promotes the consumption of nutritious homegrown and homemade foods. The program, which was piloted in Bexar and surrounding counties, is now marketed across the state.
For more information, contact the AgriLife Extension office for Aransas County at 361-790-0103.