Teen offers advice on poultry care to audience

CORTLAND – It may have been St. Patrick’s Day Monday, but those attending a program at Cortland library branch were learning about chicks and eggs.

Fowler resident Megan D’Andrea, a sophomore at Badger High School, held a program attended by more than 30 people on how to raise chickens in your backyard, which she currently does with her 38 feathered friends.

D’Andrea said she started first raising rabbits and then moved to chickens, and today has quarterhorses as well.

She noted the animals at her home all get along and keep each other company and sometimes become depressed when one is no longer there. Her family’s dog also gets along with the chickens, but some breeds such as retrievers may not.

To take care of her 38 chickens, she purchases a 50-pound bag of chicken feed at $17 a bag per week for feedings before she goes to school about 5:15 a.m., and in the evening between 6 and 7 p.m.

Brendan Bockelman, 11, of Mecca, who said he wants to start raising chickens, won the drawing for a starter kit. He said he already has a chicken coop at his home.

Charlene Dugan, of Bazetta, said she has 42 chickens.

”I really learned more tonight than I ever have,” said Dugan, who sat in the front row and asked many questions on what is involved.

D’Andrea covered various topics of what is involved raising chickens, including how they have extreme stress when frightened by predators, such as raccoons, how some chickens will learn to crack an egg and eat the inside, or how chickens will peck at and kill a diseased or weak chicken. She said chickens will stay on a perch where they sleep at night to feel safer from predators.

She recommended culling non-egg laying chickens and replacing them with hens that do lay eggs. The culled chickens can be used for meat.

”People who have chickens for production can’t afford to have them not lay eggs,” D’Andrea said.

She said while she doesn’t sell to stores, she does sell the eggs to neighbors and teachers.

Hens do well laying eggs with a rooster around or not, she said, though roosters do protect the hens and let out loud screeches.

”Some roosters can be aggressive, but they keep the hens laying eggs,” she said.