A Professional What? A day in the life of a poultry pro


8 Years
Jan 11, 2012
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.


6 Years
May 9, 2013
Our first year of chicken raising was great. We didn't lose even one chick. Once the girls were old enough for the coop we lost one to a neighbor dog, one to an accident, one in the night that lost it's head. This is our second year and we lost 50% of our chicks. We pulled everything out of the coop and made a liquid to put in our weed sprayer. Water and Clorox mixture. We sprayed top to bottom, let it dry completely and added fresh clean straw. Next spring we will do this spray method BEFORE we bring chicks home.
Raising chickens is really fun and the eggs are delicious.


7 Years
Sep 5, 2012
Funny, I've sent a number of people I've met at the local feed store (near the chicken feed and supplies area) to this site for advice like he gives - do you need a rooster - what is best feed - and so on. I've met people who fed their birds only scratch (and didn't supplement by letting them into the yard for bugs and plants) - I urged them to come here and ask why they should reconsider that (and not just rely on me). Some had no idea how different chickens' digestive systems are (and the need for grit - while they knew chicken lack teeth like us, it never sank in on them what that means - and that birds essentially use grit to grind like we use our molars). I've tried not to make them feel bad, because after all, we had to learn a lot, too (when we got our birds). Most people I've met this way are very nice and want fresh eggs - and want to control what their chickens eat - and try to give their birds more human living conditions than the factories do.

People are surprised to find out our main egg layers - some white Leghorns - came from hatching Trader Joe fertile eggs! That was a fun project.

Twain, keep up the good work. Lots of new chicken owners have no idea what they're doing (especially in the cities - folks who are new to farm stuff like this). We learned a whole ton when we started by coming to BYC. It's a great site, and Twain, it sounds like you're helping people a lot. Thanks.


In the Brooder
5 Years
Feb 8, 2014
It says first thing who the post was sponsored by. Yeah, if it's a real guy, then good on him. Not many get to do this stuff for a living.


5 Years
During my relatively(thus far) short life I've been many locales all over Noeth America and in my travels met many professionals in many different fields.
My experience has taught me to stroke their frail egos by politely smiling and let them say what they "hafta" say and pretend to actually hear them. Because they get downright POed if they get corrected in anyway on anything for any reason and I'd rather not put up with "negative energy" coming out of them. I guess like the kind of energy one would get after being "showed-up" at a bar at 10:30 on a Friday night after a long week of doing a job you don't really like.

However when things are written down there are no body language clues/cues and/or voice tone clues/cues to interpret.
There are some statements in this article that are helpful to me. Of what has been shared, some I'll definitely use for the benefit of me and my flock.
The rest, I'll just smile and pretend.


5 Years
Our first year of chicken raising was great.  We didn't lose even one chick.  Once the girls were old enough for the coop we lost one to a neighbor dog, one to an accident, one in the night that lost it's head.  This is our second year and we lost 50% of our chicks.  We pulled everything out of the coop and made a liquid to put in our weed sprayer.  Water and Clorox mixture. We sprayed top to bottom, let it dry completely and added fresh clean straw. Next spring we will do this spray method BEFORE we bring chicks home.
Raising chickens is really fun and the eggs are delicious.

I never use stuff like clorox or javex for anything anymore. It's very very carcinogenic(causes cancer).
And it never breaks down. It just keeps concentrating where ever it accumulates.
Wana kill an entire ant
colony? Put that artificial sweetener on the hill. It'll kill overnight. Wana see a long slow agonizing death? Put clorox or javex there.
Imagine now what it does tp people that use that stuff for everything including disinfecting dishes, wells, tabletops, floors, toilet seats and chicken coops
. Yes it does get into the eggs and flesh. And we wonder why there is so much cancer today!!:idunno:he

When I clean my coops & lofts I use Elbow Grease, hot water and original PineSol.
When it's dry I put cedar shavings to keep bugs and vermin away. After about a week I then take out the cedar shavings because it is apparently is not good for the respiratory system of any kind of poultry
, and softwood isn't far behind cedar.
I really prefer using dry oat, barley or wheat straw but if straw is not available I'll use hardwood shavings. If there are no hardwood shavings available I use softwood shavings. I dislike using hay as it is hospitable to so many bugs and other organisms. And when it gets wet it takes such a long time to dry. Also because of the seeds, hay doesn't make as good a mulchand/or compost as straw.
On the average I have a survival rate of 90-95%........until I let them out of the coop.
That's when predatory creatures have a blast....until my fowl get large enough to outrun, out maneuver and/or outfox

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