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April 2 Northwest Oklahoma Backyard Poultry Conference to provide ‘one-stop shopping’ for key information

STILLWATER, Okla. – Spring seems to have sprung, and with it many people’s thoughts are turning to… chickens?
April 2 Northwest Oklahoma Backyard Poultry Conference to provide ‘one-stop shopping’ for key information

Extension's Dana Zook will be among the experts providing research-based insights at the April 2 conference in Enid. (Photo by Todd Johnson)

Many a farm family has long raised chickens, both for the eggs and as one of the more popular and nutritious meat entrees going. Increasingly in recent years, people in more urban areas have discovered the benefits of running their own “backyard” poultry operation.

On April 2, the Northwest Oklahoma Backyard Poultry Conference in Enid will provide essential information for veteran producers and beginners alike.

The conference will take place 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Chisholm Trail Expo Center, located at 111 West Purdue on the Garfield County Fairgrounds, on the north side of Enid. Cost is $10 per person and youth 15 years or younger are admitted free of charge.

“Extension is excited to be able to offer this opportunity,” said Dana Zook, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension area livestock specialist headquartered in Enid. “Think of it as one-stop shopping, time management made easy wherein you can access everything you need to know to either get started or enhance an existing poultry operation.”

Want to know how to choose the right coop for your new flock of feathered friends? Have you ever had a sick hen that you wish you knew how to treat? What do you do with all that manure when you clean the poultry house in the spring?

“There will be something for everyone, plus participants will be able to interact not only with experts in the field but also with beginning and veteran poultry producers who can share their own on-the-ground insights and experiences,” Zook said.

Josh Payne, OSU Cooperative Extension poultry specialist, will lead the first conference session, which will focus on small flock biosecurity and prevention of disease.

“The current outbreak of avian influenza in the Midwest has emphasized the need for biosecurity so we’re giving backyard poultry producers what they need to know right off, from improved understanding to practical management tips they can employ,” Zook said.

Twain Lockhart, the conference’s keynote speaker, will then take participants through “Backyard Chicken 101 & Broiler Basics.” Drawing upon his experience as a Nutrena poultry nutrition specialist, Lockhart will share the most significant and necessary information for new poultry owners.

The final session of the morning will be led by Hailin Zhang, OSU Cooperative Extension nutrient management specialist and director of the university’s Soil, Water and Forage Analytical Laboratory. Zhang will provide key facts and practical management tips about composting.

“Composting is important for any backyard enthusiast and poultry owners will benefit a great deal from Dr. Zhang’s insights about utilizing waste material as an essential compost ingredient,” Zook said.

After lunch, Dr. Barry Whitworth, DVM and OSU Cooperative Extension animal health specialist, will take participants through disease prevention and methods of treatment for common ailments.

“There are a variety of illnesses and parasites that can affect the productivity of backyard flocks, and Dr. Whitworth will be addressing those with attendees,” Zook said.

Zook herself will lead the conference’s final session, providing helpful tips relative to breed selection and housing options for the backyard poultry owner.

“We ask participants to pre-register by calling 580-237-7677 if possible, as it greatly aids our planning and helps ensure we have sufficient numbers of meals, refreshments and conference materials on hand,” she said. “Lunch is included in the cost of the conference, thanks in part to the sponsorship of Chick-fil-A.”

Throughout the day, various booths will provide poultry related educational demonstrations and information applicable for the backyard poultry operator. Conference attendees will be eligible for door prizes that will be awarded throughout the day.

“This conference and the door prizes could not be offered without the generous support of our sponsors, including Willow Country Store, Atwoods and Johnston Seed Company,” Zook said.

Anyone seeking additional information about the April 2 Northwest Oklahoma Backyard Poultry Conference should contact Zook by phone at 580-237-7677.

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