This post is brought to us by Nutrena® You may have seen the title before, or heard it referenced in discussions about poultry nutrition and health. But what exactly is a poultry specialist, and what does he or she do from day to day? For Twain Lockhart, Nutrena Poultry Specialist (AKA “Mr. Cluck”), days are taken up with problem solving, interacting with poultry and poultry owners, and, most importantly, sharing his vast knowledge with others. We asked Twain to share a bit about what he does as a poultry specialist. Here is what he had to say: Q: What is your poultry background? A: Four years of 4-H, four years of Future Farmers of America (FFA) and 17 years as the owner of a store that specialized in poultry. Q: Describe a typical day. A: I’ll do a variety of activities, from calling on farms and visiting stores to solving customer problems. There is never a dull moment, but at the end of the day when I can see that I’m helping people take care of their birds correctly, that is what makes it worthwhile. Q: So would you say that helping people is one of the best parts of your job? A: I would. I find it rewarding to help people with a poultry husbandry issue, but I really love it when they take the time to get back to me and let me know that my suggestion helped solve their problem. Q: How important do you feel it is for new poultry owners to take some sort of class or do research prior to purchasing a flock? A: I think it’s critical, so that they don’t get discouraged before they get started. Some good options include our free Tour D’ Cluck Chicken Chats.* Also look around for credible bloggers, local classes or poultry clubs, which are growing in popularity. Q: How important do you feel it is for existing poultry owners to continue developing their knowledge of poultry care and nutrition? A: It’s extremely important. Many of the things we were doing 30 years ago were wrong. We didn’t know better. So it’s important to stay up to date and in touch with what’s happening with poultry health and nutrition. We’re learning new things every day about our chickens. Q: You mentioned Tour D’ Cluck Chicken Chats -- or TDC Chicken Chats. Why do you think a TDC Chicken Chat is a good option for current and potential poultry owners? A: I’ve presented a large number of these seminars and I learn something new every time. I like that it’s not just me or another Nutrena consultant up there preaching at people. It’s a conversation and dialogue about participants’ concerns and questions around their flocks. Everyone who attends can learn from each other. Q: These sound like great events. How many TDC Chicken Chats do you usually do every year? A: In the spring I personally will do anywhere from 50 to 70, and I do those all across the country. During that same time, my colleagues are also presenting these seminars in stores. Our goal is to make them accessible to everyone. Q: What is the most common question you get asked during a TDC Chicken Chat? A: Do I need a rooster to get eggs? I try to get this question out of the way ahead of time and let everyone know that you don’t need a rooster for egg production. Q: Favorite feed? A: Nutrena Feather Fixer poultry feed for molting. It’s a product that fills a need experienced by almost every flock. It helps your girls get through molt faster, but it can also be fed any time of the year if you’re concerned about feather quality. Q: How many birds do you currently own? A: 24. But that’s taking into account my wife’s chicken math, so it’s probably more like 50 (don’t tell her I said that)…. Q: Chicken math? Explain that. A: It’s a unique method of counting chickens. My wife’s version takes into account things like bantams only count as half, roosters don’t count, and hens that aren’t laying don’t count either. * Tour D’ Cluck Chicken Chats are free interactive seminars presented by Nutrena® nutrition experts. For details, visit www.nutrenaworld.com/cluck. For tips and information on raising chickens, subscribe to the Nutrena® poultry blog at ScoopFromTheCoop.com.