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Westport coop tour hatches interest in chicken raising

Updated 9:44 am, Monday, May 19, 2014

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  • Zachary Katz, 13, with Rusty, a Rhode Island Red Hen, at Katz's Franklin Avenue home, one of the stops on the Westport Chicken Coop Tour coordinated by Wakeman Town Farm on Saturday. Photo: Mike Lauterborn / Westport News
    Zachary Katz, 13, with Rusty, a Rhode Island Red Hen, at Katz's Franklin Avenue home, one of the stops on the Westport Chicken Coop Tour coordinated by Wakeman Town Farm on Saturday. Photo: Mike Lauterborn

 

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A crowd came to roost at Wakeman Town Farm once again Saturday, which hosted its annual Westport Chicken Coop Tour.

The town-owned farm served as the jumping off point for visitors to check out four backyard coops around town. The event is designed to help educate people about chicken raising, while generating awareness about those in town who do, according to Carrie Aitkenhead, co-steward of Wakeman Town Farm.

In addition to the tour, the event featured a range of other activities on site, where a chicken coop from Benedict's of Monroe was on display; vendors like My Pet Chicken and Freshii restaurant; author Lauren Scheuer read from her "Once Upon a Flock" book, and Westport Children's Librarian Lynne Perrigo told stories.

"Not a lot of people realize chickens are in," said Carrie. "There are quite a number of coops around town. They make great pets."

The farm itself is home to about 20 chickens, which produce about a dozen eggs daily. The eggs are not just brown or white in color, but blue, speckled and crème-colored.

"Farm fresh eggs taste great and are super healthy," said Mike Aitkenhead, Carrie's husband and farm co-steward.

Cornelia Olsen's home, located down Cross Highway from the farm, was one of the stops on the coop tour. Olsen said she started raising chickens a year ago. "I had always wanted chickens, but we used to live near the beach and didn't have room," she said.

But Olsen took the tour last year and was inspired to to raise her own chickens -- with assistance from the farm setting up a pen and caring for her chickens. "I have three chickens and I generally get two eggs per day," she said. "Chickens have a lot of personality and moods like people."

Another tour stop was the Katz home on Franklin Avenue. Zachary Katz, 13, volunteers at Wakeman Town Farm through its apprentice program and "fell in love with the chickens, lobbied hard and we gave in," said his mother, Judy. "We started raising them a year ago and have four at present. They produce two to four eggs per day."

Zach's father, Bruce, admitted to getting attached to the chickens... not to mention protective of them. "We have to watch out for predators like foxes, coyotes and hawks," he said. "We only free range them if we're very close by. One of our hens, Buff, got bitten on the back by a fox, so we learned the hard way about supervision."