Tips for raising backyard hens

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Chicks are back in stores like the Fruita Co-op just in time for spring and Easter, and urban farming is a trend many families are turning to.

Chicken ownership continues to grow across the country and it's definitely catching on more here in the Grand Valley as well.

If you and your family are considering picking up a flock of adorable chicks there are few things to consider before taking that big step, even if it's just into owning small-time livestock.

Many families are taking control of the food they put on the table, and one local mom said raising hens is a fun and educational experience for her daughter as well.

"Oh yea, she's been talking about it for two weeks now because she knew the time was coming," said mom Brittany Wemple as she and daughter Rylee picked out five new chicks.

Mike Ohlrich is the Fruita Co-op expert and said the birds are easy to maintain if you know what you are getting into.

"The biggest problem with smell is from not cleaning the environment or having too many chickens in a small area," said Ohlrich.

While lots of people come in just to look at the newly-hatched chicks, Ohlrich makes an effort to educate serious shoppers about ways to keep their new livestock safe from predators.

Ohlrich said the chicks will stay in chick stage for another 4-6 weeks, but then they hit the pullet stage or teenage stage. Pullet stage starts at around 10 weeks at this point the hens will start to lay tiny eggs, and three to four weeks later the hens could be producing sized eggs.

The Grand Junction and Fruita Ordinances both allow six chickens on a property less than half an acre, and if you have more, you can have up to 15 chickens.

If you want to know more about raising backyard chickens, head to the Fruita Co-op for a presentation from 9-4p.m. on March 16th.

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