Virtual Workshops on Backyard Chicken/Small Flock Care a Huge Success!
2020 has forced all of us to adapt our lives and shift the way in which we communicate information. In recent years we have seen increasing interest from individuals and communities on keeping their own chickens. Since the pandemic the level of interest has soared with families having more time at home and a heightened awareness of food security, with a desire to have their own source of eggs. Many hatcheries in North America reported record breaking numbers of orders this year, and chicken keepers have reported difficulties sourcing adult birds due to this increased demand.
AFAC has been delivering Urban Chicken/Small Flock care resources since 2016. Our focus has always been to ensure that individuals keeping backyard chickens or small flocks are well equipped to care for these birds and have access to accurate resources and expertise when needed. Workshops have been delivered in-person with a hands-on training component. Due to health regulations, we discussed how we could transition from in-person workshops to a virtual format that would still accommodate various learning styles. By March, we had already received numerous inquiries about a virtual workshop as more and more people were looking to keep chickens.
In April we hosted our very first 3-part virtual series on keeping backyard chickens! Cassandra Kirkpatrick was the facilitator with Kaylee Sheets as our technology guru. This series presented the same information as the in-person workshops including time and financial commitment, building a coop, biosecurity and diseases, chicken behaviour, etc. Links were provided to useful resources including the PDF manual developed in 2016 for the project. Training videos and demonstrations were given throughout the presentations, and each evening concluded with a 30 minute Q&A session where participants were encouraged to interact with the facilitator and other participants. It was a huge success with over 50 attendees from all over Canada! Feedback was very positive with participants commenting on the informative sessions and how much they enjoyed the videos and Cassandra’s live from-the-coop demonstrations.
With the positive reaction to the first series, we hosted a second introductory level series in June and started a monthly ongoing “Questions from the Coop” session. The end of June/beginning of July saw us host a virtual workshop specific to the counties of Leduc and Wetaskiwin which was tailored to their region to cover bylaws, climate, predator risk, etc. We also heard from participants who attended our introductory level workshops that they would like more advanced chicken keeping information, so we hosted an Advanced Chicken Care webinar series in July that covered topics such as monitoring bird health, advanced coop design, biosecurity, etc. Dr. Margaret Fisher with River City Chickens, who has previously helped us with this project, joined as a guest speaker to talk about different diseases and vet care.
We are so excited about how well the workshops were received this summer, and will be continuing with the momentum this fall as we host another introductory level series, another Advanced Chicken Care webinar series on four different topics, and continuing our “Questions from the Coop” monthly sessions. Let’s get cracking!