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This April, the University of Alberta’s Poultry Research Centre hosted two Small Flock Poultry Workshops. The workshops were to accompany our Peavey Mart Chick Sale in May.

Both workshops covered many elements of raising chickens including housing and brooding, egg washing, compost management, basics of poultry diseases and biosecurity measures, and an overview of chicken anatomy with a chicken dissection.

Participants heard from farmers, professors, and veterinarians. Speakers included Blake Hall from Prairie Gold Meats, Daniel Chappell from Country Thyme Farm, Dr. Frank Robinson from the University of Alberta, Dana Penrice from C & E Meats, Veterinarians Dr. Chunu Mainali and Dr. Colleen Christianson from Agriculture and Rural Development.  Harold Dyck, a sales representative for Peavey Mart Industries set up items in which chicken owners could purchase at their local Peavey Mart Store. Some items included a brooder, heat lamp, chicken feed, nest box, feeder and waterers, and medicine supplies. Kane Veterinary Supplies and Vétiquinol supplied the participants with a complimentary Virkon disinfectant bottle. Egg washing guides, and biosecurity packages were also given to those attending the workshop.

Our Speakers

Dana Penrice

Dana works as the coordinator for the Poultry Research Centre and as a communications specialist for the Alberta Chicken Producers and as a marketing program coordinator for Organic Alberta. She and her partner also run C & E meats in Lacombe, Alberta raising grass-fed, pasture-raised beef, lamb and chicken.
Dana began the event with an introductory sharing circle. We each had to say our name, where we farmed, and what was our favourite tool was (although our tool could not be our spouse). Dana shared her unique experience of processing heritage chickens.

Dr. Frank Robinson

Frank teaches for the University of Alberta subjects of poultry production and physiology. Frank’s primary research focus involves the reproductive fitness of chickens and turkeys.
Frank spoke on coop designs. He recommended as well as criticized specific coop designs – placing emphasis on what is a good chicken house according to Alberta climate. He also spoke on chicken anatomy and demonstrated a chicken dissection in front of the workshop participants.

Daniel Chappell

Daniel is a professional horticulturalist and farmer, who has owned and operatedCountry Thyme Farm, a mixed vegetable and poultry farm, for the past five years. He has worked with chickens and ducks for about ten years, and focuses on heritage breeds and natural, holistic management.
Daniel examined ways to keep chicks healthy during brooding stage as well as explained alternative forms of brooding.

Blake Hall

Blake is herdsman for Prairie Gold Pastured Meats and runs a unique herdshare program which direct markets grass-finished beef, lamb, and pastured pork into Red Deer and Calgary, AB. His passion is ethical and sustainable livestock management.
Blake demonstrated how to wash eggs, and explained what to do with poultry manure and mortality.

Dr. Colleen Christianson

Colleen received her DVM in 1999, her Masters of Veterinary Science in anatomic pathology in 2001 and her PhD in 2011 from the University of Saskatchewan.  Currently, she lives in Airdrie during the week where she works as a poultry pathologist and scientist for Alberta Agriculture.
Colleen presented on major backyard flock diseases, and how to prevent such diseases through sound biosecurity practices. In the lab in Airdrie she diagnosis poultry diseases for small flock farmers.

Dr. Chunu Mainali

Chunu works as a Surveillance Veterinarian with the Alberta Agriculture for the last 12 years and is involved in designing and developing programs and projects in the area of food safety, animal health, biosecurity and public health.
Chunu spoke on a wide range of diseases paying particular attention to biosecurity practices to prevent such diseases.

Each speaker, through subtle humour connected with the audience as they recalled tales of their childhood and raising chickens. Although a wide range of topics were covered, other topics were brought up as the lecture-style set up shifted into an open discussion.  We had a mix of urban and rural chicken owners, some long time chicken owners and many new to the world of chickens.

Thank you to everyone who participated in these events. We hope to have more educational workshops such as these in the future.