Sue Dorn had folks clucking with “egg-citement” during her free class on raising backyard chickens Monday night at the Harker Heights Activity Center.

Dorn has been raising chickens in Killeen as a family hobby for five years.

Clayton Rabroker, a Heights resident, took many notes and asked lots of questions.

“We’re moving to some land in Killeen,” he said “My dad wanted me to come to this class to see about raising live chickens.”

Handouts were available detailing resources for obtaining chicks locally, as well as specific livestock ordinances for Belton, Copperas Cove, Harker Heights, Killeen and Temple.

Dorn’s presentation began with chicken vocabulary, then moved to coop design options such as chicken tractors, small coops and large coops.

Attendees learned about the different temperaments and egg colors for breeds, such as Delaware, Americana, Easter-egger hens and Rhode Island Reds popular in Central Texas. The presentation taught about effectively raising chicks, chicken feed and nutrition and egg structure. Discussions covering protection from predators and debates over the pros and cons of having a rooster were also included.

Her photos included a cleverly designed coop Dorn and her husband built with open ventilation, easier cleaning bottoms, and hatches above nesting boxes for easily collecting eggs.

Hens will live eight to 10 years, and at 6 months they lay eggs approximately every 25 hours, Dorn said. The first few years of a hen’s life are when they lay the most eggs. As she ages, egg production slows to one egg every two to three days.

“Although edible, these chickens are not like the roasters we typically consume,” Dorn said.

“I have a backyard garden, and hoped to have a couple (hens) with our backyard garden. That’s why this class interested me,” said Etelvina Reed, a Heights resident.

Dorn advised Reed to have a fence to protect the young plants at first, and then later the hens can eat bugs from the garden.

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