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NMSU Valencia County Extension to host mobile chicken coop construction workshop

LOS LUNAS, N.M. - Got fresh chicken eggs? You can if you have chickens in your backyard. Want your chickens to multi-task? Build them a "chicken tractor."

Nationally, raising backyard poultry is catching on. People are learning the value of having hens to produce fresh eggs, provide natural fertilizers for gardens and help aerate the soil.

New Mexico State University's Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service will conduct a mobile chicken coop construction workshop on Wednesday, Dec. 15, at NMSU's Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, 1036 Miller Road. The day-long workshop will begin at 8:30 a.m.

"Raising poultry is an alternative way for small farms to raise livestock, plus eggs are a valuable commodity for farmers' market vendors," said Kyle Tator, Valencia County agricultural agent. "This is an opportunity for the small-farm operators and backyard gardeners to learn how to build an affordable chicken coop, called a chicken tractor."

Del Jimenez, NMSU Extension specialist with the Rural Agricultural Improvement and Public Affairs Project, has designed the coop to be mobile, yet predator-safe.

"The chicken tractor can be moved to various areas of a yard to allow the chickens, when roaming outside the coop, to graze on the land that had formerly been under the coop and where droppings from the housed chickens have fallen," Jimenez said of the coop design. "They work the manure into the soil and eat bugs such as grasshoppers and crickets." For more information about Jimenez's chicken tractor visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKAQypq109M.

Participants in the workshop will also receive general information about raising chickens and about poultry food safety.

The finished chicken tractor from the workshop will be on display at the agricultural science center during future field days and at Valencia County Extension activities.

To register for the free workshop, call or e-mail Brenda at 505-565-3002 or valencia@nmsu.edu before Monday, Dec. 13.