Thinking about Chickens

As the price of eggs continues to climb, thoughts about chicken farming continue to increase.  I don’t recall any Extension Chicken specialists from my time with MSU Extension – though I did meet SDSU’s last Chicken Specialist around 2000.  He was 80 then, and hadn’t retired as a chicken specialist. 

Chicken specialists don’t get a lot of respect.  I met a Hutterite school teacher – had his degree, his teaching certificate and all . . . a minister from another colony (more conservative) had met him, learned of his credentials, and opined “Your colony is missing a good chicken man.”  

Still, thinking of South Dakota’s Hutterites and poultry does lead me to pointing out one of the advantages to raising chickens in northwest Montana.  We’re not in the flyway, with huge flocks of migrating birds bringing bird flu to our farms and ranches.  I recall bird flu ravaging the local chicken operations twice in the 15 years I was there.  Here, we can probably get bird flu, but vastly fewer migratory birds reduces the odds.

I’ve just written most of my knowledge on chickens – but for the essential item in my yard: I have predators, some airborne and some four-legged.  Open range should not be part of a chicken operation for me.  Eagles and coyotes would both be a significant risk to any flock I let run loose.  Fortunately, Minnesota’s Extension Service had Extension Educator Betsy Wieland on staff, and before she left, she published an article on raising chickens at

You can order chicken tractors on Amazon, or from Wayfair.  It might just be the way to keep eggs on your plate.

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