What came first, the chicken or the egg? We may never know, but for two upcoming webinar series, the basics of backyard chickens will come before egg-grader training.

A flock of backyard chickens in a large, sheltered homemade coop.
The basics of raising backyard chickens is the topic of a free webinar series March 18-22. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Laura McKenzie)

A Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service poultry specialist will share his expertise during the free seminars March 18-22 and April 16-19. Each series will be held on consecutive days from 11 a.m. to noon.

Preregistration is required, but those unable to attend the webinar live will have the opportunity to watch the recordings later. Register for chicken basics at https://tx.ag/SpringBackyardChickens and for the egg grading at https://tx.ag/SpringEggGrader.

“We are offering this course virtually because it has become so popular that I can’t get around the state to teach it to all counties that request it,” said Gregory Archer, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension poultry specialist and associate professor in the Texas A&M Department of Poultry Science, Bryan-College Station.

“This format also allows participants to get more out of the series because I have five to six hours of information to share over multiple days, rather than trying to consolidate all that into one class.”

Participants will also be able to ask Archer questions and chat with other participants.

Backyard chicken boom

Whether you’re new to raising backyard chickens, are considering raising backyard chickens or are just chicken curious — you’re not alone.

“We saw the popularity of backyard chickens explode in recent years and that grew even more during COVID,” Archer said. “Rising egg prices have also driven the increase in backyard flocks.”

But Archer said there are breeds that don’t do well in the heat of Texas and certain breeds that are aggressive. So, while it may seem as basic as getting a chicken coup and some birds — it is more complex, and people need to be prepared to properly select birds and care for their flocks.

“While the internet and YouTube may be great sources of information for those with backyard birds, what works on the East Coast for example may not work in Texas,” he said. “It is important to understand what your birds will need to survive and thrive as well as the rules and regulations of the state.”

While the backyard basics course is ideal for beginners, it is also for those with established flocks.

“Even if you’ve had chickens for a while, these series are a great way to brush up on your knowledge and delve deeper into topics as well as learning the latest information and research related to backyard chickens,” he said.

Backyard chickens dates and topics

The five-part series will cover the following topics:

  • March 18, Introduction, Housing and Lighting.
  • March 19, Breeds and Nutrition.
  • March 20, Selling Eggs and Poultry, Food Safety.
  • March 21, Health and Disease.
  • March 22, Chickens, Your Garden and the Environment.

Egg grader training dates and topics

Archer said there is a great deal of information people should know before they sell backyard eggs.

A wire basket full of multi-colored chicken eggs. Texans with backyard chickens must grade eggs before selling.
Anyone selling eggs needs to be able to grade them. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Laura McKenzie)

“If you’re selling your eggs to a grocery store, restaurant or food truck, by law you have to grade your eggs,” Archer said. “This series will explain what all that entails and help people who need to grade their own.”

The four-day egg-grader classes will cover the following topics:

  • April 16, Egg Composition and Biology.
  • April 17, Egg Microbiology and Food Safety.
  • April 18, Interior Egg Quality and Defects.
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