Novice, Expert Bird Raisers Alike Welcome to Attend Free Chicken Workshop on Feb. 25

The Farm Store in Chehalis to Host Avian Workshop as Chick Sales Expected to Boom


Soaring egg prices in recent months have many Americans turning to backyard flocks to maintain their regular omelet consumption. 

For families with children or anyone seeking the companionship of a clucking friend, though, chickens have value well beyond the eggs they lay. With year-after-year increases in chick sales as COVID-19 shutdowns had many seeking at-home projects and buying more pets, the Farm Store in Chehalis is gearing up for its annual “Chick Days,”  with a free avian workshop on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 10 a.m.  The "Chick Days" sale begins the following Tuesday and runs through Saturday, March 4. 

“People want their kids to know where their food comes from, so chickens are a great way,” said Rick Boyer, who works as a sales representative for Purina in Western Washington, adding with a laugh, “We call chickens a gateway drug. ‘Cuz usually at the start (people buy) chickens. And then a goat, or a cow or a pig. It just goes on and on.”

Boyer, an enthusiastic chicken farmer himself, teaches the class. It covers the basics of poultry keeping, such as preparing for your new chicks, raising them with minimal stress and protecting birds after they’ve moved into the coop. Chicks, as Boyer explains, are typically hatched on farms in the midwest. Immediately after hatching, they’re loaded in boxes with others and shipped to post offices around the country via airmail.

By the time the Farm Store is responsible for the birds, many will have died from the cold. For those alive, the priority is warmth.

“Preparation is key,” Boyer said. 

Once the fluffy, chirping birds arrive home, a “brooder” should be set up, pre-heated, stocked with food and prebiotic-filled water, lined with pine chips for warmth and cleanliness. Cedar chips should never be used to line brooders as the wood is toxic to birds, and newspapers are not ideal, as they’ll not soak up moisture from spilled water or waste. 

Poultry-keepers will also learn the basics of heat lamp safety and how to affordably create brooders and coops at home. 

“You try to be proactive versus reactive,” Boyer said. “When you come in to get your chicks, you’re gonna see a lot of little kids. Well, now, death can be traumatic. We’re trying to make this a positive experience.”

While he said topics can be molded for what interests the group, Boyer anticipates spending plenty of time talking about predators. In the Pacific Northwest, birds of prey, coyotes, weasels and raccoons are the bane of poultry farms. In Saturday’s class, attendees can go over the best coops and fences to avoid each kind of predator. But the worst offender is, unsuspectingly, often a farmer’s best friend.

“Number one is dogs: your own dog and your neighbor’s dog,” Boyer said. “If you have to go in the pen with the dog, how are they going to react?”

Through all these lessons and many more, Boyer said families can take steps toward sustainability and empowering themselves when food is scarce or supply chain issues arise. Food, he reminds everyone, doesn’t originally come from the supermarket shelves. 

Beyond that, raising peeping feathery friends is fun, he said with a big grin. 

“That’s probably the best thing,” Boyer said. “Chickens, they’re a partner with you. You’re in the garden, they’re right there with you. … Their personalities — each one is different.”

Chick Days at the Farm Store, located at 561 W. Main St., Chehalis, supply new bird owners with all they need for a brooder, including feed and pine chips. To learn more, visit Chicks sales on Friday are expected to begin at 10 a.m., but new shipments will arrive throughout the coming weeks.