When you’re a poultry lover, it’s always a good time when you can connect with other poultry lovers and talk about chickens. There are countless memes across Facebook and other social media platforms joking about how much chicken keepers like to talk to others about their flock, and our team is no exception.

This month we headed to Front Royal, VA, for the annual Homesteaders of America (HOA) conference to connect with 5,000+ attendees, and answer all of their questions about chickens. 

Chickens are often called the ‘gateway animal’ to keeping livestock, and that rings true when you talk to homesteaders and hobby farmers across the country. Homesteaders have a desire to live a simpler, more sustainable life by raising and growing their own food, and chickens — both layers and broilers — are an easy, beginner’s entry point into keeping livestock.

Let’s recap some of the highlights from our trip: baby chicks, children, new and old friends, and great conversations.

McMurray Hatchery Blog | Tom Wakins at Homesteaders of America 2021

Baby Chicks Bring Generations Together

There is something about a brooder full of baby chicks that warms the heart. The newly-hatched tiny balls of fluff are loaded with personality, and their sweet cheeping sounds are sure to make anyone smile. Take a look at these images of attendees flocking to see the baby chicks in our tent at Homesteaders of America. 

Kidsteaders: The Next Generation of Chicken Keepers and Homesteaders

Each year at Homesteaders of America, McMurray Hatchery has been honored to be a presenter/speaker for the Kidsteader youth program. In 2019, McMurray owner Tom Watkins spoke on how to set up a brooder and care for baby chicks. This year — with the help of several event volunteers — we spoke about eggs, the lifecycle of a chicken, read a story about all of the animals that come from eggs, and made some fun crafts including masks and pom pom chicks in eggs. As a 105 year-old company, McMurray Hatchery has been hatching flocks for generations of customers and are thrilled to help teach future generations about raising and keeping poultry. 

Connecting with Friends, Old and New

Even in a crowd of 5,000 homesteaders, HOA is a chance for us to get away, relax and spend time with friends. Over the past few years, we’ve made many friends at the event, and this year we made a few new ones. Our weekend was filled with answering our customers’ questions about their flock or new breeds, catching up with old friends around a campfire, hearing crazy chicken stories from just about everyone, and getting to hear a dear friend sing. While it’s nice to be back home with family, we are already looking foward to seeing our friends again soon.

McMurray Hatchery and Greenhaven Farm at Homesteaders of America
McMurray Hatchery and Eustace Conway at Homesteaders of America
McMurray Hatchery and Rory Feek at Homesteaders of America