If you have ever wanted all the benefit of waking at sun up with none of the inconvenience of setting your alarm, then you should consider keeping your own chickens. Most people will tell you that a rooster is happy to take the place as said alarm and this is certainly true, but in keeping only hens you may still find yourself with a wake up call, although somewhat quieter. Not to put anyone off the idea but you do need to be aware of what you’re getting into. Plus, the benefits far outnumber the alarm. We rise early and for most of the time take pleasure in the call of our rooster waking us accompanied by his lovely clutch of hens.
Eggs! If you have Peter Russell-Clarke on hand and his egg cooking skills then fantastic, but most of us we are going to have to get creative. Obviously your breakfast forecast is going to be rich, a favourite of ours is poaching. No need for any fancy centrifuge or vinegar with your own fresh eggs, just pop them in and by the time your toast is done so is your poaching. Breakfast is only the start, frittata or quiche, devilled eggs, and you’ll never have to buy packet pasta again! The options are plentiful and the outlook is delicious. In times of egg glut, barter them with friends for whatever you can’t produce yourself. Like the elusive lemon tree, something every home would of had only a generation ago, try as we might, they just won’t grow in Woodend. Thanks to this system we are kept in lemons too.
You can hunt out a poultry auction or most town markets will have someone flogging fowl, of course you could just ask at your local poultry supply store. Seek out advice and read up online about which breeds suit your local environment. But here’s some food for thought: Australorps are a big bird that lay well and are a good meat bird, ISA Browns make great layers and Bantams are smaller and happy to be cuddled, but we love them all.
The chicken run is important too, and the internet has some great advice on how to set up their new home, a search in your preferred search engine will offer all the advice you’ll ever need. The basic things to keep in mind are:
- Make sure the run and coop is big enough for your birds.
- Hens need a dry place to scratch about and perch at night.
- Always make sure they have enough food and water
- If you are keeping your hens in a coop, they will occasionally enjoy a visit about your yard. A free range chicken is much happier, productive and tastier!
Other than eggs the other commodity your chickens and more likely roosters produce is meat, once again the internet is full of useful guides and videos on how to harvest this. Many people may turn their nose up at the idea of this but it’s something that almost everyone in this country would have done not all that long ago, many people in other countries still do today. I had to question whether I should be eating meat if I couldn’t go through the steps involved to harvest it and it’s something I would ask everyone to consider.
So if you’re in need of a pet, some food or an alarm clock then chickens might be the right move for you. And the by product (chicken manure) is fantastic for your garden, our tomato crop is weeks ahead of anyone in our neighbourhood. More on this soon…