Like any pursuit, poultry farming is not without its questions, issues and challenges. You might come from a long line of chicken-keepers or may devote an entire bookshelf to reference guides (or both). But none of this necessarily means you’ll find the solutions you need.
A poultry association, however, can provide you with the kind of support unavailable in books. Your fellow members are happy to share their experiences and help you solve problems. They can offer advice, expand your horizons and even provide camaraderie.
The three basic types of poultry associations are described below. Joining one or more of these groups may be the answer you’ve been looking for.
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National organizations serve the poultry-raising community as a whole. They seek to further the appeal of the hundreds of breeds and varieties of poultry throughout North America.
The two most prominent associations are the American Poultry Association (APA), the oldest livestock organization in the United States, and the American Bantam Association (ABA), which has represented bantam breeders and their special interests for more than 100 years.
Paid membership in these groups help fund:
- Their youth programs
- Their exhibition meets, held around the US and Canada
- The association newsletters and yearbook
- The development and improvement of the Standards of Poultryâ€”the strict guidelines by which each breed and variety of poultry is measured
Being a member of the APA or the ABA is an excellent way to stay on top of the latest poultry developments. And you’ll gain a greater appreciation for the birds you are raising, too.
Membership also provides you with the opportunity to purchase member-only merchandise, such as leg bands, patches, club pins and books. Plus you also gain access to the associations’ Facebook pages, where you can connect with other chicken breeders and fanciers.
Breeders’ clubs are the way to go if you’ve decided to focus on a specific type of chicken, such as a Polish, Silkie or Ameraucana.
These specialty associations typically maintain an in-depth website where you can find such information as:
- The standards for that breed
- Photos of the different color variations as seen in chick, hen and rooster
- Historical information about the breed
- A directory of members, including what varieties they raise should you wish to purchase hatching eggs, chicks or adults
Breeders clubs not only exist to improve their chicken of choice. They also actively exhibit their birds at shows around the country.
The club’s website will frequently feature a calendar of upcoming events as well as links to exhibitions for those interested in showing their birds. Breeders’ clubs often have a social-media presence, such as Facebook pages or groups that are available only to members.
Most breed associations charge monthly or yearly dues, which go to maintaining the web site, publishing club newsletters and other costs of operation. To find your breed’s club, search for the name of your breed plus the words “breed club” (for example, “Wyandotte breed club”).
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Local associations often offer you the most personable experiences you’ll find in any poultry association. Whether it’s your town’s chicken-owners organization, your county’s poultry-swap group or your state’s fancier society, a grassroots group gives you the opportunity to feel as though you’re part of a family. And often there’s no membership fee.
These organizations frequently feature social media groups where you can chat with your fellow members, hold discussions, share photos of your flock and even buy and sell birds.
Some groups hold in-person meetings. Some organize social events such as picnics and potlucks where members can get to know each other better and forge friendships. Others offer annual coop tours, opening their chicken-raising areas to the public and offering prizes to the most beautiful coops.
If you’re interested or have plenty of ideas to share, you may consider running for club office, helping take your group into the future. To find your local grassroots poultry association, contact your town hall. You can also check with your local feed store or search the internet for “backyard chickens” and your zip code.