The Queens County Farm Museum held a class on raising backyard hens for over a dozen attendees on Saturday, March 18. Danny Morales, the farm’s director of agriculture, taught the students about a variety of topics, including the pros and cons of raising hens in New York City.
Those in the class were taught about the details of acquiring hens in New York City, whether as chicks or adolescents, building them homes and keeping them happy and healthy laying eggs. While raising roosters in New York City is prohibited, it is legal to raise hens, which aren’t nearly as noisy as most roosters.
Among the notable lessons taught to the class were the types of feed needed, the differences between breeds, predator proofing (mostly from raccoons) and what hens need to continue laying eggs. They also learned the importance of calcium when it comes to laying healthy eggs and sunlight’s effect on promoting regular egg production.
Once the class concluded, the students were able to peer into one of the farm’s coops and see some of the Rhode Island Red hens residing within them.
“We want to provide an educational opportunity to the public,” Morales said. “We’re one of the only farms in New York City and we have a pretty unique and large operation of chickens, and I think with the timing of egg prices going up, it was a good opportunity to give people an insight into the reality of raising chickens for eggs and also how they can do it.”
Among the participants in the class were Geri Mazzarelli and Patty Ewald of Gallop NYC, a group that provides therapeutic horsemanship to riders with disabilities. According to Mazzarelli, who works as a site manager there, the class presents her with an opportunity to bring new knowledge to her job.
“We have five laying chickens,” Mazzarelli said. “I want to make sure they’re being cared for properly.”
“I’d like to consider adding a backyard flock of my own,” Ewald said. “I want to learn a lot more before I go to venture to that.”
The farm began teaching this season’s selection of hen raising classes in the beginning of March. Seven classes were offered through the month for New Yorkers curious on how to bring their own flock of laying hens to their urban backyards. Queens County Farm Museum will be offering one more class this month on March 26 from 1 to 3 p.m.
The Queens County Farm Museum will also be hosting another egg-themed event soon. On April 1 and April 8, it will be hosting the Backyard Egg Hunt, where families can hop on over for outdoor games, a farm-wide scavenger hunt and photos with Whiskers the Bunny.
Additional events happening at the Queens County Farm Museum this spring include the Apple Blossom Carnival from April 22 to April 30 and the famous Sheep Shearing Festival, where visitors can watch the farm’s sheep get a spring haircut and enjoy other fun activities.
— Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane