Wednesday December 19, 2012 | 03:24 PM

An increasing number of people are finding themselves in the position of caring for a small flock of chickens, choosing to shorten the food miles and produce fresh eggs for their family in place of procuring them from the large, primarily automated poultry industry.

Are you one such person and do you raise those backyard chickens in a coop? Well, then you might want to have a go at the first Maine Poultry Coop Contest sponsored by the Maine Poultry Growers Association (MPGA)and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

The Maine Poultry Growers Association will award prizes of $200, $100, and $50 to the top three entries. Fourth and fifth place winners will receive a subscription to Backyard Poultry magazine.

University of Maine Cooperative Extension Educator Richard J. Brzozowski, who frequently visits small-scale poultry producers and see lots of cleverly constructed coops for keeping various species of poultry said the idea for the contest came to him during a board of directors meeting for the MPGA. "The contest is one way for poultry keepers to become familiar with MPGA and Extension," said Brzozowski. "The contest is also a great way to recognize creativity and ingenuity of Maine poultry keepers whether they be backyard hobbyists, farmers with small scale enterprises or mid-size operations."

Coops may be seasonal, year-round, stationary or mobile. They may be multipurpose and need not be original designs. Entries will be evaluated based on specific criteria, including design, purpose, space, construction materials, safety, cost and unique features.

 

Photo by Richard J. Brzozowski of  John & Mary Belding's coop in Harrison, ME

All entrants must be Maine residents. Entries must include at least one coop photo and a completed entry form and be received by Dec. 31, 2012. Entry forms and photos may be submitted online, in person or mailed to: Poultry Coop Contest, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, 75 Clearwater Drive, Falmouth, Maine 04105/ For more information contact Andrea Herr at (207) 781-6099. There is no entry fee.

Winning entries will be announced at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show Jan. 9, 2013 at the Augusta Civic Center. Entrants need not be present to win.

Entries will be judged by a jury that includes: a retired poultry professor, a retired poultry veterinarian, a livestock specialist with poultry experience, a practice veterinarian with poultry experience and an extension educator.

If all goes well Brzozowski expects this will become an annual contest.

 

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About the Author

Sharon Kitchens is a neo-homesteader learning the ins and outs of country living by luck and pluck and a lot of expert advice. She writes about bees for The Huffington Post and stuff she loves on her personal blog, deliciousmusings.com.

When she is not writing, she enjoys edible gardening, reading books on food and/or thinking about food, hanging out by her beehives and patiently tracking down her chickens in the woods behind her old farmhouse.

In her blog, Sharon profiles farm families, reports on farm-based education and internships, conducts Q&A's with master beekeepers, offers tips on picking a CSA, and much more.

Sharon can be contacted at kitchens.sharon@gmail.com or on Twitter @deliciousmusing.

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