I am giving my first class for backyard chickens--need your opinion!

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by chickerdoodle, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. chickerdoodle

    chickerdoodle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 21, 2009
    I live in the suburbs of beautiful Portland, Oregon which has allowed small flocks of chickens as long as I can remember. Within the last year, on my side of town in Beaverton, the law recently changed to allow up to four backyard hens. I testified for it at city hall and followed the journey and the meetings were always full! [​IMG]

    They do offer Backyard Chicken classes in a few urban feed stores on the east side of Portland but the west side (including Beaverton and the suburbs around it) there really aren't any. In addition to a feed store there is also one specialty store in the heart of Beaverton that is carrying more heritage breeds (including some rare breeds) of chicks and ducklings as well as feeds (organic too) and other supplies for those who have decided to have a small flock.


    Before I got our cute fuzzy chicks a year and a half ago I spent over a year of research, took several classes, have 17 books (which I read cover to cover) watched 2 DVDs and joined the local Yahoo chicken group (an excellent one!) and this forum. [​IMG] My background includes veterinary medicine and animal behavior (mostly small animals) so I am used to making technical information easier for folks to grasp. To say the least I am serious about taking excellent care of my feathered friends and have been a go-to gal for several new chicken advocates as well as experienced ones. I am so totally enamored to my sweet girls!

    I remember how important it was to take classes for several reasons which included the following:

    *To make it less scary. Raising tiny fragile chicks is really scary for the first time!
    *Reading books is not the same as hearing someone local who has done this before and succeeded.
    *Learning from common mistakes and how to avoid them.
    *You can ask questions.
    *It is good to see and touch the equipment.
    *You get to meet other enthusiasts!
    *Know what you need for a coop specifically in your area.
    *For a city gal seeing a live, happy chicken helps you get an idea how big they are, how fun they are to look at and it creates excitement.
    *Get an idea how much money this will cost and how hard is it to do? [​IMG]
    *The big question--is it worth it??


    I decided to bite the bullet and have classes! The owner of the local backyard chicken store said I can do it there! its a win win for everyone. I have taught classes on animal behavior and am a fun public speaker.

    I could go on but I want YOUR thoughts. YOU ALL are the perfect group to find out what you would have wanted to know! I have made a rough draft of a syllabus but since I am a research junkie and have tons of info (more than some would want) so I would love it if you could answer these questions (and add anything you feel is helpful--even criticism):

    How much do you teach in the first class?

    *What was most helpful information you got (or would have liked to have received) before you got your chickens?
    *What would be a fair class fee in the Portland area (there will be handouts and resources given)?
    *How long should the class be keeping in mind time will help determine what is taught.
    *Should certain topics be broken down into different classes?
    *What topics are MOST important for the beginner?

    Anything--and I mean anything would be helpful--you guys are GREAT!![/b] [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2011
  2. bt03

    bt03 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 1, 2011
    Over the rainbow...
    [​IMG] Good for you for brining people to our chicken cult [​IMG] My chickens were accidental "Thanks for giving my child a live pet when you come to visit". So I have no idea how to prepare anyone for getting them other than... have a coop ready! and visit BYC daily. I had to take a crash course and learn it all in a day so I'm not sure what would have been good to know before getting them. Good luck with your class and I hope others chime in soon.
  3. Dingleberry

    Dingleberry Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2010
    how many birds per sqft to keep them from not pecking each other.
    popular kinds and their temperment,
    what you can do with their poo and what is a easy way to deal with it.

    local preditors
    simple glosery of terms used
    bedding types
    DIY watterers and feeders
    treats and not treats,
    use their egg shells for their own egg shell hardening
  4. emmalynn

    emmalynn Silkies Sebbies OEGBs

    Oct 16, 2008
    Middle TN
    They tell you "I got 3 chicks"...great..."working on the coop"----Now as a chicken cult leader you have to TELL THEM TO MAKE IT BIGGER
    Can't enable without feeling guilty if they have a small coop...LOL
  5. welasharon

    welasharon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 28, 2010
    North Florida
    Warn them not to use chicken wire to secure their chickens.
  6. Gardengirl 2011

    Gardengirl 2011 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 3, 2011
    Central Florida
    That different areas have different laws regarding owning chickens.
    The importance of ventilation.
    That IF they plan the coop, and have the time and resources, the cost can be next to nothing. BYC has shown me that!!! But it was too late. [​IMG]

    I think you're doing a good thing in educating people about having a backyard flock. And the feed store is really smart for having you do this in their store. They'll be making a lot of sales with your classes.

    I have no idea what to tell you on what to charge for the classes, but good luck!
  7. chickerdoodle

    chickerdoodle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 21, 2009
    I really appreciate your ideas. Also if there is anything you learned from a silly mistake that would help a newbie that I can use for a fun lesson would be great! [​IMG]

    [​IMG] You guys are so helpful--keep it coming!!
  8. pepperlady

    pepperlady Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 24, 2011
    Well, I am still fairly new to this whole chicken cult, so I have several ideas that are very fresh on my mind.........

    What I wish someone had been there for me to ask:

    What do I feed at what ages & how much?
    Is there anything that I should NEVER feed my chickens?
    What should I keep on hand for common chicken illnesses or injuries?
    What do I watch out for to indicate illness??
    Please tell them to get their water off of the floor & raise their food as they grow!!! No one told me and I about went crazy trying to keep the water clean & wasted soooo much food!!!
    Go over how to integrate new chickens.......I lucked out on adding 2 to my 4 straightaway, but sooo wish someone had warned me to keep them separated & such......

    Wish you were closer & I would come [​IMG]
  9. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

    Aug 13, 2007
    North/Central Florida
    Based on what I've seen locally and what I heard at a similar workshop that's been held here in Gainesville what I would suggest are these:

    - Where to find feed and supplies locally, with an emphasis on what businesses carry some of the more unusual things like game bird starter, oyster shell, and grit.

    - Explain the different kinds of waterers and feeders there are available, especially locally, and their various strong and weak points.

    - Explain the different kinds of feeds there are available and when you should use one over the other and what can substitute for something else if your local supplier is out of whatever it is that you need. Simply telling them use starter, grower, finisher, layer (a la the extension service) isn't very helpful if your local suppliers don't carry feeds labeled like that. Especially cover medicated feeds and what they are and are not. Most particularly for newcomers I think using medicated chick starter is important.

    - Explain who in the local area carries chicks, when they have them, and a general idea of the types they carry as well as how to mail order them. Particularly be clear about minimum amounts and "packing peanuts" for those places that say they'll ship smaller numbers.

    - Good brooder practices with emphasis on cleanliness, and safety if they'll be using heat sources such as the 250w heat lamps.

    - Local poultry ordinances if you have any and how to finesse them if necessary. Discuss the problems of roosters in high population areas.

    - Predators ranging from their own dogs to their neighbor's dogs to local wildlife. I'd really emphasize that prevention is worlds better than cure so think this through BEFORE they get birds.

    - While you're at it I'd emphasize they need to have their adult bird housing worked out BEFORE they puts chicks in their brooder. Life is ever so much simpler if you're not in a march or die situation of trying to get their housing built before the chicks run you out of your home.

    There is of course a lot more than just what I mentioned to be covered, but those are some particular points I'd want to see covered. If it were me I'd keep the class to no more than two hours, but with handouts covering the most important info with links or other contact information on where to get more information. Be sure to check out your local Extension Service for what documents they may have available.
  10. chickerdoodle

    chickerdoodle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 21, 2009
    AT Hagen-- I have included most of what you suggested in my rough syllabus and it makes me happy that you feel its good info for newbies. I did not think of "packing peanuts." Although most get their chicks locally I think it is important because even though they are sexed its not 100% accurate and they can accidentally get a little roo! "What do you do if you get a rooster?" may now be a short topic I will add to the syllabus!



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