Napa Sonoma SBDCSanta Rosa and Napa, California

"Working with the SBDC has been a benefit to my professional and personal life ten-fold.  As a small business owner I am thinking about my business; always.  Having the SBDC's business knowledge, suggestions and advice is a great help.  I have a ton of questions and ideas that get tossed around when we meet; we go over them one by one, major decisions are made, financials are reviewed and progress takes place immediately.  There’s no need to reinvent the wheel and to get wishy-washy; the SBDC is great with that. Since meeting with SBDC our weekly operations, time management and financials have been fine tuned. I'm now a small business owner that isn't in the office seven days a week; I take days off.  And, as a result we continue to grow and remain a debt-free company."

Dawn Russell

Treats for Chickens hatched in 2009 in West Petaluma, California.

Those who knew Dawn thought she had simply lost her mind. She gracefully gave notice to her employer of an agency in the federal government in San Francisco to make treats for backyard pet chickens. She traded in her heels, water cooler humor and 9-5 for mud boots, for chicken manure and the greatest tasting eggs this side of the Mississippi.

It all really began with a 4H poultry project for my son, Jake.  His admiration of “the pet chicken” quickly became my obsession and love.  Feed stores were only carrying scratch and it wasn’t organic back then. Chickens are what they eat and if you are eating those eggs, those chickens should be eating healthy food, treats and supplements.

Treats for Chickens quickly gained popularity and by 2010 products were being sold by online retailers.  In 2011 the business leased its first commercial space and within two months had its first West Coast distributor. 

Fast forward to today: Treats for Chickens continues to produce a collection of healthy and organic treats, supplements and a non-toxic pest control for pet chickens.  Products ship daily from their Cotati, CA warehouse to over 20+ accounts across the US.

Products can be found in local farm and feed stores, local pet shops, hatcheries and online through a variety of merchants and directly at the website:

The challenges faced by Dawn in her business were as follows: licensing, logistics, machinery, financials and sales/marketing plans and setting up a distributor network.

To meet these challenges meetings were held with the SBDC advisor. Issues addressed relating to sales and marketing efforts. We talked extensively about setting up a distributor network, improving the website and reviewing financials, and discussing manufacturing strategies. As a result of these meetings, distributor network was expanded, more attention and review of financial results was initiated, plans are underway for improving manufacturing capabilities with the possibility of purchasing additional equipment and the services of a webmaster was engaged.

Treats for Chickens have experienced some outstanding financial results. 2012 compared to 2011 indicated an increase in sales of 233.7 PERCENT and Year to Date May 2013 compared to May 2012 showed an increase in sales of 67.6 PERCENT. Start up financing was through personal savings and amounted to $43,000. Currently in addition to the owner Dawn, there are two part time employees. Cash flow has been positive, which has resulted in no additional loans to the company.

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Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA or HSU Sponsored Programs Foundation.