FARIBAULT, Minn. – Chickens roost in the center courtyard of Faribault High School.
Seven chickens – two older hens, four young hens, and one rooster – arrived at school on Sept. 15. The poultry are part of a course helping students learn how to take care of a backyard flock.
The popular course is called, “Raising Chickens: Biology and Production.”
Students take care of feeding and watering the chickens, as well as cleaning up and composting the droppings.
“A lot of the classes can see the chickens from their rooms,” said Ms. Madeline Schultz, agriscience teacher and FFA advisor.
One of the “egg layers” turned out to be a rooster.
“Students will hear him in their classes,” Schultz said in a phone interview. “I think they find it funny and entertaining.”
The older hens (that hatched the chicks) have laid eggs all school year. The younger hens began laying in late January. Family and consumer science students at Faribault High school use the eggs for cooking and baking. Minnesota Department of Agriculture passed the eggs for consumption.
Soon, a course in raising broilers for meat production will begin at the school. Twenty broilers will join the flock.
The courtyard houses one cute backyard chicken coop and two 8-foot by 10-foot sheds with a more commercial appeal.
The broilers will be raised to full-size, and then the students can assist with the butchering process. The students or staff will be able to purchase the meat.
The course also involves practicing how to apply for a (pretend) ag loan of $5,000 to start a chicken enterprise.
“They learn both the production and the busines side and what are the inputs into running an agribusiness,” she said.
Future plans include building a small meats lab to study meat science – from harvest to the consumer.
About 90 students in grades 9-12 are enrolled in agriculture programs here.
This is the first year for ag classes after a long hiatus, Schultz said. Faribault High School received a grant that provided membership for all students in FFA. That gives students the opportunity build skills through participation in FFA career and leadership development competitions.
“This is very exciting,” Schultz said in a Facebook post. “This will give students the chance to see how the industry works and give them hands-on experiences in the agriculture field.”