Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

May 13, 2013

Birds of a feather

TAHLEQUAH — Americans are growing increasingly concerned about where their food comes from, and what methods are used in its production.

In Cherokee County, a number of people these days are raising chickens, both for eggs and meat. According to Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service 4-H Educator Carl Wallace, the local trend is growing.

“We’ve seen a real increase in people raising their own chickens for eggs,” said Wallace. “People are moving to an organic preference, and if you’re feeding the birds yourself, you known what they’re eating, and know what you’re eating.”

According to Wallace, to supply eggs for an average family, about six to 10 hens are needed, along with a pen and house for their nesting boxes.”

“A person needs a house about 5 feet by 8 feet for the hens to lay inn,” said Wallace. “The pen needed to accommodate that size house, and enough room for the hens to move around, would be about 20 feet by 20 feet. A lot of people will let their chickens out of the house during the morning and early afternoon after they lay their eggs, usually from around late morning until noon or 1 p.m.”

Wallace said unless city ordinances have changed recently, it’s perfectly legal to raise chickens within the city limits.

“If you buy chicks, it varies as to when they will start laying eggs, and can depend on the breed,” said Wallace. “It usually takes about six months, and hens will lay an egg a day. They’ll do that for roughly four to five months on a regular basis, as long as the weather is good. After they get to be about 2 years old, they start skipping, so the second season, if you’re not breeding hens, you’ll need to get new chicks.”

Wallace said aging hens can be butchered, and are referred to as “dumpling chickens,” meaning the meat is better if its softened in some, usually by boiling.

“Some breeds are raised solely for meat, like Cornishes,” said Wallace. “You still don’t need a big pen, but to help them grow, you need to make sure they have good air flow. All chickens need lots of air, fresh water and plenty of good feed. It’s important to keep the water clean.”

Wallace said while raising chickens is not particularly costly, it’s not always cost-effective.

“But people enjoy the idea of raising farm-fresh eggs,” said Wallace. “A bag of laying pellet feeds is about $16 to $18, but for  six to 10 hens, that will last a good while.”

Keys residents Everett and Teresa Gullett have raised chickens off and on throughout their marriage.

“To be honest, we’re used to having animals, and since we don’t have dogs anymore, we thought chickens would be easy to take care of,” said Teresa. “And we have the added benefit of getting eggs.”

The Gulletts own 24 birds, including roosters and hens.

“I only wanted one rooster and six hens, but Everett decided to get a variety so we could have different kinds of eggs,” she said. “We don’t raise them as a business, but to provide eggs for our family. We just enjoy raising animals.”

Gullett said they are on their first round of hens, and expects once they age out, a few of them will be butchered for meat. She also thinks they will probably hatch eggs, but will supplement the brood with new chicks, too.

“Building the pen was the hardest part of the work,” said Teresa. “But Everett has it looking like the Ritz-Carlton. He doesn’t do anything halfway. He took care to make sure hawks and owls can’t get to them. He’s built an elaborate roost, so that each hen has its own little nesting  box. He’s sprinkled sawdust on the floor. Any chicken would be proud to live in that house.”

Teresa said they provide feed and scratch – a mixture of seed grains – for the hens to eat.

“But at some point, they need to get out in the yard and get to grass,” said Teresa. “I’ve been taking them the clippings from the lawn and my flower beds. It’s so funny to watch them, because they scratch in the clippings for worms. If a hen finds one, the others chase it around the pen, trying to get to that worm. I may need to supplement their food with grubs, because they really go for bugs and worms.”

Hulbert smallholder Ron Reeves and his wife own about 40 chickens, which are allowed to roam about his property.

“Our chickens are free-range,” said Reeves. “They’re allowed to go out [of their house], move around and find food on their own. They have access to bugs, grass and exercise. I have a fence around the property, and at night they come into a roosting area, which has a little door so they can come and go as they please.”

Reeves said the chicks are taught early on to stay near home.

“When they’re chicks and you’re raising them, you feed them in the house area. They naturally come back to it,” he said.


To see the complete version of this article, subscribe to the Daily Press e-edition by following the link below.

Click here to get the entire Tahlequah Daily Press delivered every day to your home or office.

Click here to get a free trial or to subscribe to the Tahlequah Daily Press electronic edition. It's the ENTIRE newspaper (without the paper) for your computer, iPad or e-reader.

Text Only
Local News
  • sr-NSU-Earth-day.jpg NSU students observe Earth Day

    Students and members of the community converged on Northeastern State University’s Second Century Square on Tuesday to spend an afternoon celebrating Earth Day.
    The event featured tables sponsored by campus organizations, prizes and music by Chris Espinoza. NSU’s Earth Day theme was “Gather Here. Go Green,” and was organized by the Committee for Sustainability and the Northeastern Student Government Association (NSGA).

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts-smallholders-courtesy.jpg Rural smallholders host annual show

    More and more, many people are showing growing interest in learning the sources of their food, including meat. As such, interest in farm-to-table living is increasing.
    Saturday, the Rural Smallholders Association held its annual spring show at the Cherokee County Fairgrounds, promoting the farming of sheep and goats, along with giving the general public a sample of their products.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • pitts-hurley.jpg Wanted man nabbed during traffic stop

    Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies arrested a wanted man this week after a traffic stop near South Muskogee and Willis Road.
    Hurley D. Pitts, 40, was being sought by authorities on a motion to revoke a previous sentence.
    Sheriff’s Deputy Jarrick Snyder said he stopped a car after it ran off the road a couple of times. A woman was behind the wheel, and Pitts was sitting in the passenger seat.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • SR-Wikafile.jpg Communiversity Band performs Sunday

    Musicians from on and off the Northeastern State University campus have made their final preparations for an upcoming performance of the NSU Communiversity Band.
    The ensemble performs Sunday, April 27, at 7 p.m., in the NSU Center for the Performing Arts. The conductor is Dr. Norman Wika, associate professor of music and band program director. Guest conductor is student Kameron Parmain. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors.
    “Everything has come together very well this semester,” Wika said.
    “We have about 40 musicians, and everyone who started the rehearsals has stuck with it. This could be the best Community Band concert yet.”

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Council concerned over reports of land contamination

    Negotiations involving the purchase of nearly 20 homes on 7 acres of land near Basin Avenue hit a snag Monday night when concerns surfaced over potential contamination of the area.
    Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols had proposed the city purchase the homes and duplexes as a large step in a greenbelt project, which would establish a solid park and trail system from the downtown area to the site of the city’s old solid waste transfer station.
    Until Monday, details of the negotiations had been mostly discussed behind closed doors, though Nichols confirmed the list price for the property to be $480,000.

    April 23, 2014

  • Council tables cell tower permit apps

    Tahlequah city councilors on Monday opted to hold off on approval of two special-use permit applications that would help AT&T install a couple of 150-foot cell towers within the city.
    Branch Communications is asking for the permits as it attempts to construct two monopole cell towers – one on Commercial Road near Green Country Funeral Home, and another at the Tahlequah Public Schools bus barn on Pendleton Street. Other towers are being built outside of the city limits.
    Members of the city’s planning and zoning board gave their OK for both permits last month.

    April 23, 2014

  • SR-WalkaMile1.jpg Walk a Mile 2014

    Men squeezed into feminine footwear Saturday by the hundreds to walk in solidarity with women on the issue of sexual violence – and their clop-clop-clopping echoed down Muskogee Avenue.
    The fourth annual “Walk a Mile In Her Shoes” brought men to Norris Park, accompanied by their enthusiastic female supporters, to walk – and often wobble – in high heels over a mile-long course to raise funds for Help-In-Crisis.
    “It hurts every year,” said John Christie, a Sequoyah High School student participating in his third Walk a Mile. “I get home, sit down, blisters come up and the calves hurt. But it is worth it. It’s for a good cause.”

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • adams-christopher.jpg Michigan man gets 13 years on plea to rape, sodomy of girl

    A 28-year-old Michigan man will spend about 13 years in an Oklahoma state prison after pleading guilty to four counts of first-degree rape and one count of sodomy involving a 13-year-old girl.
    Christopher Dale Adams, of Lake Orion, Mich., received a 13-year prison sentence for each of the five charges, to be followed by seven years suspended. All sentences will run concurrently.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • logan-amy.jpg Police take down pair on pot distribution charge

    Tahlequah police officers arrested a pair Sunday night for allegedly possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it.
    Tahlequah Officer Cody Warren said police were asked to investigate when 35-year-old Amy N. Logan, of Tahlequah, allegedly took a family member’s car without permission.
    While Warren was speaking with the owners of the vehicle, Logan arrived along with 26-year-old Theoplilus James Mollie, of Tulsa.

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • land-lisa.jpg Two nailed with meth, pot hidden in bag of chips

    Two people were arrested early Monday morning when Tahlequah police stopped a vehicle near Basin Avenue and found methamphetamine and marijuana hidden in a bag of chips.
    Tahlequah Officer Cory Keele said he noticed a Nissan heading north on Park Hill Road, and the vehicle later stopped in an intersection.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo


How confident are you that the immunizations for infants and children are reasonably safe?

Not at all confident.
Somewhat confident.
Relatively confident.
Extremely confident.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video