Today’s A-Z Challenge post is the letter C. Chickens seemed like the natural topic because they are easy to keep and, in some places, you can have a few in your backyard even if you live in town. Raising chickens is a step toward being more self sufficient.
Chickens are pretty easy to keep. They need a draft-free coop as well as clean food and water. Food can be commercial feed from the farm store or it can be kitchen scraps, grass, bugs, worms… chickens will eat pretty much anything.
One of the highlights of my day is to see how many eggs we got for the day (yes, I am really easy to entertain). Sometimes there will even bee a couple more in the evening when I lock up the coop (don’t want any predators getting in for an all night buffet). Right now, we get 8-12 eggs each day with 14 layers (and 2 roosters who like to strut their stuff). It is hard to get an accurate daily count because our hens have a tendency to hide their eggs in various places (see The Great Egg Hunt). But we get plenty for our needs and enough to share.
We have around 30 babies growing up in the barn right now, so that will add to our production. I have hopes of selling eggs off the farm for a little extra cash. Some of these chicks may end up being roosters, which we do not need. If you live in town, you are probably not allowed to keep roosters because they tend to be… well, vocal. But excess roosters serve a purpose as well. They can be butchered and served up for Sunday dinner. 🙂
My chickens run around the homestead freely and always come back to the coop at night to roost. They know where home is. We have lost a few to predators (the chickens are fond of foraging in the woods) but I prefer to let chickens be chickens than to keep them confined. Others like to keep them in a fenced in area for safety as well as ease of locating hidden eggs. This is up to you; just be sure there is enough room for your chickens to move around happily.
There are literally hundreds of types of chickens so try not to get overwhelmed when choosing yours. Some breeds are not as meaty but they are big time egg producers (from tiny to jumbo!). Some don’t lay many eggs but they can get to butchering size in a matter of weeks (as opposed to months with other chickens). Then there are the dual purpose chickens that put on enough meat to be worth butchering but also give you plenty of eggs.
It is up to you to decide what is best for your needs. I mostly have dual purpose breeds because I plan to eat the roos as well as hens that are no longer producing. We eat a lot of chicken and I like knowing that mine won’t have all the chemicals and hormones, and will live happy lives before they head off to freezer camp. I’m not even going to get into how commercial chickens are raised right now other than to say, it is horrible.
To learn more about chickens, you can find tons of information of the Backyard Chickens website. They also have a database to tell you what cities allow chickens. Even having 3 or 4 hens will cut down on your grocery store dependence, and chickens are entertaining to watch as well. Some make wonderful pets.
Have you ever considered raising chickens?