Agriplex resumes in-person programs… with chickens!

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Chickens (Feb. 27, 2021 photo from the North Alabama Agriplex)

CULLMAN, Ala. – At its first in-person event of the year, the North Alabama Agriplex welcomed a full group of participants to discuss backyard chickens. Despite the cooler temperatures and rain, the group gathered under the complex’s pavilion to maintain safe social distancing. Agriplex Executive Director Rachel Dawsey welcomed Landon Marks with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

Marks traveled to Cullman from the Cherokee County Extension Office to partner with the Agriplex to present the class about backyard chickens.

“This is a cool partnership with the Agriplex because they can get their clientele in and we can come guest speak,” said Marks, who is originally from Cullman County.

According to Marks, this past year has created an increased interest in raising backyard chickens. He explained, “One of the things, especially with the pandemic, that we saw was just a teeny bit of food insecurity. When people were going to the grocery store and everything wasn’t there like it originally was, homesteading-type activities have become more popular. Just being able to grow more things at home. Things like canning, food preservation and backyard poultry are things that are having a resurgence.”

Marks said he believes the increased popularity is a good thing and creates a great learning activity for kids.

He added, “It’s hard to find good information sometimes, so this is a good place to come and get some good information to get you started.”

The crowd was a mix between those with experience with owning backyard chickens and those who are considering it. Marks said food safety is one of the most important aspects of having chickens. “Especially when you are doing home preservation and handling, making sure it is safe is important,” he said. “Some of these folks may sell eggs to their community, so if they do that, we just want to make sure they are safe and handle them correctly.”

For those considering adding chickens to their yards, Marks explained, “A chicken lays about an egg a day. Five to six hens can take care of a family in their peak production. If you get more than that, you’ll be coming to give them away.”

The Agriplex had eggs to give away to one lucky participant Tuesday night- a dozen green eggs produced by the complex’s Ameraucana breed chickens. 

Participant Kristy White came out for the class. She already owns chickens but said, “I am about to redo my coop and add some more so I want to make sure I do it right before I spend that money. That’s why I am here.”

For those who were unable to attend, the latest programs held at the Agriplex are available on the North Alabama Agriplex YouTube channel at http://bit.ly/3bcLJM6.

Dawsey said she was happy to welcome people back to the Agriplex for in-person programs.

“This is our first since last year,” she said. “In the fall, we were meeting outdoors until it just got too cold.”

Farm Kids Club returns Saturday with a program on goats.

Dawsey added, “We are limiting our numbers, so we are doing 20 (participants) max.”

Pre-registration is required. Pre-register or find out about all upcoming classes at agriplex.org.

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Christy Perry

christy@cullmantribune.com