FFA raises chickens

Eryka Hackett, Staff Reporter

There’s nothing quite like a homemade, farm fresh meal. The comforting smells of Saturday morning eggs and toast can wake up the deepest sleepers and bring them running to the table. This weekend, why not try some fresh eggs from the FFA to get a taste of what fresh really means? FFA is currently keeping 13 hens on the agricultural field and collecting and selling eggs.
“All FFA members in Mr. [Dennis] Pearson’s agriculture class feed them and water them,” freshman Haley Clegg said. “When they lay the eggs, we place them in the cartons to sell.”
About half of the laying chickens were purchased from the Warrenton co-op as pullets (female chickens about 20 weeks old, which have not begun to lay eggs), but the other half came from closer to home.
“We also hatched some of our eggs last year, and raised them in the incubator in the horticulture room,” Pearson said. “But since we’re in the town of Warrenton, we don’t have a rooster [to prevent] noise complaints.”
The eggs, collected two to three times daily, are sold to teachers and students willing to buy. The hens currently lay 10-12 eggs per day, which are sold for $3 a dozen and $4 for an 18-pack. Flyers around the school advertise the sales. During the summer months, eggs are sold to the school board office.
“Whenever we bring in the eggs, they usually sell pretty quickly. They are usually gone by that day,” junior Elizabeth Barron said.
The chickens are fed a “balanced ration” of corn and soy beans also purchased at the Warrenton Co-op, according to Pearson. FFA has ensured that their birds remain cooped, but some feisty chickens rebel.
“We have electric poultry netting surrounding the coop that’s about three feet tall,” Pearson said. “Before they were clipped – you can actually clip a chicken’s wing to prevent them from flying– they were flying out. But we were able to catch them.”
While Pearson and FFA co-sponsor Susan Hilleary care for the chickens on weekends, Pearson’s agriculture class is currently preparing for the chickens’ summer vacation – freshman Kiersten Ball will care for the chickens over the summer. During vacation, eggs will be sold weekly to the School Board.
“You just need to make sure you manage them carefully, feed them, and water them properly,” Barron said. “It’s important because it teaches you how to raise animals and take responsibility.”