German Village Gazette

34th annual OEFFA conference

Farmer will discuss raising chickens at home

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How to construct an inexpensive, home-built, portable chicken coop such as this one will be one of the topics discussed by Guy Ashmore of That Guy's Family Farm in Wilmington during a workshop about home-poultry processing at the 34th annual Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association conference, set Feb. 16 and 17 in Granville.
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Call it Chicken 101.

Guy Ashmore, a certified organic farmer in Wilmington, will discuss the basics of home-poultry processing at the 34th annual Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association conference, slated Feb. 16 and 17 in Granville.

"It's not as difficult as everybody thinks," Ashmore said. "I think the hardest part is deciding you want to do it."

There are a lot of misconceptions about raising chickens at home, said Ashmore, who owns That Guy's Family Farm with his wife, Sandy.

First off, they don't smell, if properly attended, and aren't noisy unless roosters are involved, he said.

"When roosters start to crow, that's when your neighbors get upset," he said.

Ashmore suggests starting out small with a flock of about 10 chickens.

The basic starter kit involves a small, heated structure for the chicks until they're about three weeks old.

Then, a permanent outdoor structure is recommended, encircled by fencing but allowing the chickens have enough room to move about.

In eight to 10 weeks, the chickens will be ready for slaughter -- or in the parlance of farmers, "processing."

It's not an entirely rosy scenario, Ashmore said. Some people have to get over an initial queasiness factor, and there is an odor when the chicken carcasses are lowered in hot water to remove feathers.

It's not necessarily less expensive to do it at home -- the investment translates into about $2 per pound -- but the benefit is in the quality of the product, Ashmore said.

It also satisfies the needs of a locavore, or someone who values locally grown and raised food products, Ashmore said.

"It's all in your hands," he said. "A lot of people want to get back to knowing how it's raised, what they're eating and how it's processed."

The OEFFA conference will include 95 workshops and more than 100 speakers from all facets of the farming industry.

"The conference offers a mix of farmers, agricultural experts and out-of-state talent," said Lauren Ketcham, spokeswoman for Clintonville-based OEFFA.

The conference will be held at the Granville High School and Middle School complex, 248 Newbury St.

The farm association expects to draw 1,100 people, which would be the largest audience yet, Ketcham said.

OEFFA will accept registrations until the conference is sold out. For more information or to register, visit oeffa.org/2013.

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