Saturday, May 31, 2014
Our family has been keeping chickens for almost a year now. I wanted to have them ever since living in Australia when all our neighbor thought we were nuts for NOT having chooks. Well, I have been converted and we all just love our little flock of characters.
Their coop is located down in a little shady spot in our backyard. They get to free range around the yard when we are out with them (too many hawks, neighbor dogs and eagles in the area for them to fee range all the time).
Right now we have 7 laying hens. Our ladies are breeds selected for their egg laying skills.
Our hens are Brahma, Golden Comet, Cinnamon Queen, Road Island Red, Aracuna, one silly Polish hen and a Black Sexlink named Midnight.
During the day they come and go from their coop. At dusk they put themselves to bed up in the roosting room and we lock the coop behind them.
This is their nesting box. They all fight over the same spot to lay their eggs. This particular hen has "Gone Broody" She is desperate to hatch out some chicks and refuses to leave the nesting box. We do not have a rooster so the eggs are all unfertilized. YOU DO NOT NEED A ROOSTER FOR EGGS. Poor Michelle. We felt sorry for her and traded 3 of our eggs for my friends fertilized eggs. If Michelle can stick with her broody nature for 21 days she will get to have 3 chicks to tend. She is very excited about motherhood.
This is the back of the coop. The doors open so we can clean the poop out and change the bedding. We switch back and forth between wood chips and straw for bedding. The ladies don't seem to care.
They get to eat a mix of whole grains (this time I bought millet and whole wheat. Sometimes I get oats). They happily eat table scraps and dandelion leaves when I weed. Their very favorite food is bugs and worms. You haven't lived until you watch a fat hen chase down a grasshopper. It is hilarious.
I also feed the hens Layena feed. This is the crumbles. I won't buy crumbles again because they make too much of a mess with it. I prefer the pellets.
We keep our hens for fresh eggs, bug control, weeding and the peace we get from watching them cluck around the back yard. Here is a comparison of one of our eggs (the big orange yolk on the right) and one I bought from the store. The store egg was labeled as a free range, organic vegetarian egg. It looks rather puny to me.
Chickens are lots of fun and if tended well they really don't smell bad. Dog poop smells much worse than chicken poop. Anyday. My family has learned so very much taking care of these birds. They each have a different personality