April 25, 2012

Chickens 101

Mary Campbell,
Extension Director
and Urban Sustainability Agent

Don’t miss the new program Chickens 101 
on Saturday, May 19, 
1 pm to 4 pm 
at Pinellas County Extension 
(12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo). Sign up today.

City dwellers are embracing the joys of raising chickens for food and fun. A new program offered at Pinellas County Extension will provide expert information on raising and caring for your backyard chickens. The interest in local food production has blossomed over the last few years with more communities passing local ordinances that allow for backyard chickens. Unincorporated Pinellas County recently passed the ordinance to allow four chickens per resident. As part of the local food movement, raising chickens has many benefits, from fresh eggs to the activity around caring for your mini flock. Chickens are easy to care for and a great learning opportunity for kids. Chickens are friendly and believe it or not, have personality.

A chicken coop in Florida does not need to be expensive or elaborate. An area that is covered by a roof and enclosed with a minimum of two sides for protection from prevailing rain and wind is sufficient. The size of the house should be based on a minimum of three square feet of floor space per bird. The use of fencin helps in confining the birds and provides protection from predators. The top of the enclosure also needs to be covered to prevent flying and climbing predators from entering. Using an enclosed run during the day provides an open area that reduces stress, pecking, and will allow the birds to supplement their diets with a variety of greens and insects.

A chicken tractor is a movable chicken coop lacking a floor which one person can drag about the yard. It may have wheels on one end to make this easier. Chicken tractors allow chickens to find fresh forage such as grass, weeds and bugs as the tractor is moved around the yard. Unlike fixed coops, chicken tractors do not have floors so there is no need to clean them out. The term chicken tractor comes from the chickens performing functions like a tractor: digging and weeding the soil or fertilizing and weeding for crops. Birds have access to fresh air, sunlight, forage and exercise. A chicken tractor also gives some shelter from predators and weather. Hens lay eggs in nest boxes rather than hiding them in foliage. See a demonstration of a chicken tractor at Chickens 101.

Find out how easy and fun backyard chickens can be and sign up for Chickens 101

Basic Guide for the Backyard Chicken Flock: 

Pinellas County Ordinance:

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