Learn how to raise healthy hens in your backyard

Urban chickens can produce more than eggs for breakfast. Chicken litter — the combination of bedding material and manure that collects at the bottom of henhouses — is an excellent organic fertilizer for flowers, vegetables and other plants.

The key to producing good fertilizer is to keep your backyard chickens healthy. A free seminar at Ranch-Way Feeds on March 17 will help in-town poultry farmers an introduction to raising chicks into successful egg layers.

“This is the second year we have offered this seminar,” said Dr. Kelcey Swyers, animal nutritionist for Ranch-Way. “We cover everything the first-time chicken owner needs to know, from picking the right breeds to the equipment needed for care and management of a small flock.”

Fort Collins allows residents to keep up to six hens – no roosters – as pets within the city limits. Larimer County classifies poultry as livestock raised for production of food or fiber.

Swyers said that this is the best time of year for people to learn about raising poultry, because baby chicks are now available, and starting them off right will pay dividends when they mature.

“We talk about how chickens develop, and what’s normal for each stage of growth,” she said. “We also talk about what to feed a flock, whether it’s free range or in a coop, and what not to feed them.”

Like any pet, chickens can develop health problems with a diet too rich in treats, Swyers added.

The hour-long seminar starts at 10:30 a.m. at the Ranch-Way retail store, 546 Willow St. in Fort Collins, and can accommodate up to 50 participants. For more information and to register, call 970-482-1662.

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