How to raise Chickens in Bend, OR – Chicken Coop Tour This Weekend!

by on May 5th, 2011
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The Give and Take of Raising Chickens in Your Backyard:
A quick-start guide to creating and maintaining your own flock in Bend

chicks!

“Before starting my flock, I’d never a met a chicken with feathers,” said Liz Lotochinski , organizer of this year’s 2nd Annual Chicken Coup Tour. “My only exposure to the animal was seeing them wrapped in plastic at the grocery store,” she said with a laugh.

Now Liz is not only a highly successful chicken farmer, but a passionate advocate and educator for those interested in raising backyard chickens. If you are interested in raising chickens this spring, Lotochinski noted that the Chicken Coop Tour is an efficient and enjoyable way to learn more about starting your own flock. The tour will help novices gain the confidence to raise chickens, and attendees will glean many different perspectives and approaches to this enjoyable and economical hobby.

from the Bend Bulletin

Due to changes in city ordinances over the past few years, more and more people in Central Oregon have taken to raising chickens, both for the food they provide every day, and the pure enjoyment of caring for these charismatic animals. But what does it really take to start you own coop? How much does it cost, and what are the challenges and rewards associated with maintaining a micro-farm in one’s backyard?

A good place to start your research is the popular website www.backyardchickens.com. Thousands of people log in every week to participate in the website’s forum where virtually any and all questions about raising hens can be answered.

Free range!

Most backyard farmers agreed that caring for chickens is no more time consuming than taking care of the family dog. Daily chores include giving the animals clean water and food, maintaining their roost, and deep cleaning their coop once a month.

Beginners should evaluate if they have the time available for daily maintenance and then factor in the space constraints of their property. Hens need about two sq. ft. each inside their coop (the inside enclosure where they sleep at night), and eight sq. ft. each for their outside run where they will spend all but the coldest days. While coop space cannot be compromised due to cleanliness issues, many urban chicken farmers have much smaller runs, which are still acceptable.

Chicken Coop Tour - May 7, 2011

Building the chicken coop itself is the backyard farmer’s next major consideration. Constructing your chicken’s home can cost virtually nothing if you have access to scrap wood and other building materials. Two separate lamp systems then need to be purchased: The first is a 250-watt lamp with a red bulb that is required to create a brooder (nursery for chicks.) The second is at least one 60-watt bulb to create the illusion of longer days in the winter, which is necessary for egg production.

Once your coop and brooder are in place – now comes the fun part – buying and raising your chicks! There are many differing opinions in the chicken community about breeds and resources, and the selection runs the gamut. Buying chicks can be as easy as purchasing everyday varieties available at local feed stores, to attending “Poultry Swaps” with more exclusive breeds, like the one that takes place in Salem every spring.

“Finding the right breed of chickens is sort of like finding the right kind of dog,” said Laurel Zepp who has 30 chickens on her farm out in Alfalfa, and will be featured on this year’s Chicken Coop Tour. “They all have different characteristics and personalities.”

Lotochinski recommends finding a breed that is cold-weather hearty so they will not get frost bitten. Lotochinski has Ameraucana chickens, also known as the “Easter Egg Chicken” for their unique gene, which produces greenish-blue eggs.

Once your hens mature to adults, you can start to reap the benefits of collecting eggs almost every day, depending on how many animals you care for. On average, hens will lay one egg a day, but without extra lamps, their production will slow down in the winter, because winter is a bad time to raise chicks.

The amount of chickens you have on property is dictated by city codes. For instance,

The City of Bend Development Code allows for no more than four chickens on lots greater than 6,000 sq. ft., which is about an eighth of an acre. In all instances, chickens are required to be fenced in so they do not leave the owner’s property.

Even if you don’t live within city limits, fencing is a major concern when constructing your chicken habitat. You must keep the chickens in, but perhaps more importantly, you have to protect these vulnerable creatures from a multitude of predators in Central Oregon, including coyotes and raccoons.

Besides the practical reasons for raising chickens, like having fresh eggs every day, and “closing the loop” by feeding them your food scraps, many chicken owners expressed that they receive a lot of joy and satisfaction through caring for their animals.

“My chickens give me affection without distraction,” Lotochinski said. “One reason I do this is for the adoration of my flock; they love me.”

Chicken Coop Tour Details

Date: May 7, 2011

Time: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Info: www.bendchickens.com

Includes: 35 coops and hundreds of chickens throughout Central Oregon

Fundraiser for: Together for Children

Healing Reins Therapeutic Riding Center

NeighborImpact Food Bank

Tour Booklets Available for $10 or 6 items of non-perishable food at:

High Desert Ranch and Home

Earth’s Art Tumalo Garden Market

Newport Avenue Market

Eastside Gardens

Cowgirl Cash

Riverwoods Country Store/Pizza Subway

Tickets to the event: One tour booklet per carload of people

Details: Coops are located around Bend including 12 in town, 11 on the east side, nine in Tumalo and three in Deschutes River Woods. The tour booklet provides details about location, coop description and chicken breed variety for each coop. Highlights of the tour include The Cathedral Coop, a Bend coop constructed of all recycled materials, and the Chicken RV Coop, fashioned out of an old fifth wheel camper.

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Categories: Outdoor Inspiration

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