Originally posted in my guest post at Another Kind of Drew.
Before our recent move to the country, I had a small city flock of chickens. They lived in a chicken tractor. I had read about battery hens. The ones that lay your eggs if you buy them in the super market. Their life is NOT a nice one. I decided that hens would be a great addition to our family. MY chickens would have a better life and thus provide me with better eggs. Since you don’t have to have a rooster to get eggs from chickens, and we lived in the city with neighbors close by, I chose to have only hens. I should just warn you now. If you get chickens, you’ll be hooked. If you’re anything like most of us crazy chook people, you’ll always be looking for ways to grow your flock and manage them. How can you NOT?
All I can think when I see that photo is “GUESS WHAT?!?! Chicken Butt”. Oh yes. I’m THAT classy. Moving on.
Now that I live in the country, I have more options as to what I can do with my flock. I decided to start by getting a rooster in order to allow my hen to raise their own chicks. (Hens to a MUCH better job raising chicks at a much lower death rate and with much less WORK than we humans. MUCH.) Rather than start having chickens all over the place, I created a flock management plan that will allow me to maximize my hen’s laying years, sell eggs to neutralize the cost of feed, butcher some chickens for meat each year and still maintain a smaller scale flock. I wanted to have my flock in rotation in a way that would allow me to have a full and productive flock in a cycle that would never stop. Here is what this will look like:
* I will add to my flock in groups of 3-4 each year until I have 18-20 hens.
* I will be allowing my hens to hatch and raise chicks starting next year. I plan to allow them to sit on about 12 eggs.
* I will keep 3-4 of the pullets and butcher any roosters and extra pullets I have from the hatch. When I have a full flock (20 girls), I will also cull the oldest batch of laying hens that I have. This way, I will have 12 or so laying hens in varying stages of productivity at any given time, and a fresh batch of soon to be layers coming in.
My flock should be full and in rotation by 2012. At least that’s the plan.
Getting chickens seemed like a huge leap, but we LOVE our chickens! I can’t imagine ever NOT having them now. They were a great decision, and I love knowing that our eggs come from happy content chickens, who frankly, live it UP here in the country. Free range pastured chicken life? yeah. They’ve got it good. I also like knowing that when the time comes to butcher, they’ll be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, and an appreciation that I’ve learned can only come when you truly know your food.
So tell me. What leap did you take toward a chewy life that you can’t imagine living without?
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