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NMSU Extension workshop teaches about raising chickens, building mobile coop

New Mexico

Looking for a hobby that is a source of food? How about raising chickens?

Raising chickens has many advantages--they are good pets, they produce eggs and meat, and they can supply organic material to improve the soil.

"Chickens are an easy animal to raise," said Del Jimenez, agriculture specialist at New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. Jimenez will be conducting a workshop about raising chickens and building a mobile coop, called chicken tractors, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., June 30, at NMSU's Sustainable Agriculture Science Center in Alcalde. Cost for the program will be $10, which will include lunch, drinks and snacks. Pre-registration is required before June 26, call Selina at 505-852-2668.

"Chicken tractors are very practical. These pens protect your poultry against varmints, such as dogs, cats, raccoons, skunks and other animals looking for an easy meal at your expense. It protects your birds from the daily environmental elements, such as intense sunlight, rain, snow and storms that come often during any season. It also gives your chickens a home that they recognize as comfortable and secure," he said of the 12-foot by 6-foot structure that can house 36 laying hens.

"The design also allows you to fertilize your yard with the natural manure by moving the coop to areas where the birds can graze inside the confines of the structure. Chickens scratch the soil incorporating their own manure and improving the nutrient levels. And by moving it around on a regular basis, the chickens do not cause compaction of your soil, therefore ground cover recovers faster."

The workshop will combine hands-on training of how to use the tools and build the coop, with a discussion on the basic information for raising chickens. Participants are encouraged to bring their work clothes and tools.

"Chickens can be raised by city dwellers in backyards as well as rural residents who have small acreage. The important things when selecting your chickens if you are in a city, is to have laying hens rather than roosters. Hens produce eggs and meat, while roosters don't and are known for their loud crowing," he said.

The workshop is sponsored by NMSU Cooperative Extension Service, NMSU Sustainable Agriculture Science Center in Alcalde, Mora, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, Santa Fe and Taos county extension offices and the Rural Agricultural Improvement and Public Affairs Project.

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