Backyard henhouses mean fresh eggs on the table


Andy Bary, a researcher at the WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center, addresses a crowd of people enrolled in a workshop on raising chickens in Tacoma. (Photo by Chris Benedict, WSU Pierce County Extension)

TACOMA — Probably fewer than 100 people in Tacoma raise chickens for eggs, guesses Chris Benedict, WSU Pierce County Extension educator, but that number might double after last weekend.
Prompted by numerous phone calls, Benedict organized a workshop on small-scale egg production that took place Saturday at the WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center. About 110 people attended the class “Chicken Management 101: Small Scale Egg Production.”
Benedict thinks most of the interest stems from a desire by many people to know where their food comes from.
“By raising their own chickens, people are completely aware of everything that goes on in the process,” he said. 

Locally, he said, demand of direct-sale eggs has outstripped supply.

How much production can be expected from a backyard flock? 
“I suspect that most people with a flock of four birds may get 15 eggs a week,” Benedict said. 
There’s also a seasonal aspect to egg production because chickens will stop producing when light changes.
“If you aren’t willing to manipulate day length in the winter, you won’t get any eggs,” he said.

Start-up costs vary widely, depending on equipment. Chicks are relatively cheap at about $l.80 each.

Backyard production requires commitment. 
“There are no vacations,” Benedict said. “The chickens are always there.”
Backyard producers must also be aware of predators, such as raccoons and dogs. 

“The initial learning curve for anyone is going to be steep,” he said.

The workshop covered municipality regulations; coop design; chicken breeds; food and water; poultry diseases; insect pests; waste management; and egg management. 

Next Story

Smithsonian National Zoo nutritionist to deliver Halver Lecture Feb. 27

Mike Maslanka solves diet-related riddles in a world of exotic and threatened species. He will reflect on some of his greatest challenges and successes at the annual Halver Lecture in Comparative Nutrition, 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27 in Pullman.

Recent News

AI research supports health equity in rural Washington

WSU sociologist Anna Zamora-Kapoor is studying how artificial intelligence and machine learning could help improve cancer survival outcomes among the Pacific Northwest’s rural Hispanic population.

Sustainability Task Force seeking community ideas

The new task force was formed as part of a broader effort to ensure the university is at the forefront of environmentally-conscious efforts in higher education.

Grant supports research on cross-laminated timber

WSU researchers have received a two‑year grant to make more resilient and durable housing materials from cross-laminated timber and recycled carbon fiber.