The PCC campus has a horticulture garden where a Horticulture program is offered to students so they can get hands-on experience of working in this type of industry.
Living inside of this garden are 5 female chickens.The enclosure for the chickens is pretty spacious so the chickens have lots of room to run around. Jorge Ochoa, Associate Professor of the Horticulture Department, says 15 chickens would be the perfect amount for the space they have, but they have had up to 35, which has gotten a little cramped.
For now though there are only 5 chickens living there and it would be hard to bring in new ones since the others wouldn’t deal well with new chicks. For the most part the chickens all hatch on campus, or they get them from a hatchery, which they have done for a couple of the chickens. Ochoa goes into to feed them grain once a day and when he goes into the enclosure the chickens all follow him because they know that he feeds them. The chickens get grain once a day, but throughout the day Ochoa goes in to give them different types of greens and fruits, which are all grown in the horticulture garden.
Jorge Ochoa, Associate Professor of the Horticulture Department says, “My favorite part about working with the chickens is that it’s relaxing, I look forward to going into feed and take care of them”.
The chickens favorite fruits are pomegranates and they also love leafy greens such as kale, cabbage and lettuce. For the most part everything in their enclosure is edible, so the chickens are free to eat whatever they find. Sometimes if Ochoa finds a grasshopper in the gardens he brings it to the chickens because it is one of their favorite treats.
After the chickens finish eating, they go lay underneath the trees for shade and to rest. They need the shade, especially when it’s hot, because they have lots of feathers so their bodies get very warm when it’s hot outside so it’s nice for them to be able to cool off.
At night the chickens sleep in a coop and the door to that coop closes every evening so that the chickens are kept safe from predators. One of the biggest predators they face are raccoons. During the summer and winter, when the campus is more empty that’s when the raccoons strike and they have lost a few chickens due to this.
These chickens are past their prime of laying eggs, but they do lay an egg once or twice a month, according to Ochoa, and he saves the eggs to give to students or volunteers who help in the garden.