Why we want chickens

One reason we want chickens is because we want to move towards being self-sufficient. Having hens and our own eggs is one step in that direction. I think we will eventually have either a dairy cow or goats, and maybe some sheep or a pig or two. Who knows. I do know that of all the farm animals to choose from, chickens should be the easiest for us to learn about and take care of. So that is part of why we are getting chickens first.

After reading more about chickens, I also realize there are other benefits. They will often eat table scraps. This is a great way for us to deal with the issue of trash in the country (I might have to research and write about that at some point). Most of our food waste will be composted or will be eaten by the chickens. That is great! Right now we put all kinds of stuff on the compost pile that probably shouldn’t go and will eventually attract critters. Having chickens and outdoor cats to feed scraps to will help with the trash. Yet another benefit is that chicken poop makes great fertilizer.

The primary reason we want hens is for eggs. We eat a lot of eggs and it will be great to not go to the store to get them. It will also be cheaper because I usually spend around $3.50 per dozen of eggs because I get the organic or cage free eggs (Yes! I buy cage free eggs even though I know that cage free doesn’t mean what it should mean). Anyway, having eggs will save us money and trips to the store.

We have also talked about the possibility of getting some chickens for meat, but Tim seemed reluctant to do that. I think he is worried that we will become attached to them and not be able to eat them. I think that is a possibility, but from talking to Scott the Farmer, I think that what most people do is have their hens separate from their “fryers” as they are called. The fryers are in a movable coop all the time or are free ranging and then in a separate coop at night. Doing it that way seems like it will keep us from getting too attached.

I think, though, that we will start with 4 or 5 hens and just collect eggs for a while. Then we will figure out if we want to have some fryers. Our neighbor is going to get some hens, some fryers, and a hog. I think he built a movable coop for his fryers. We’ll have to go see it and talk to him. I am sure we will do things a bit differently, but it will also be interesting to learn from each other.

As far as whether to get chicks or hens, I am leaning towards chicks at the moment. The benefit of getting hens is that they are already laying eggs and are easier to take care of. There are lots of reasons to get chicks, though. One reason is that they are so darn cute. The kids will LOVE the chicks. I can just hear Moira saying how cute they are. The chicks will get used to us faster than hens would, too. That will be helpful when they are out roaming around and the kids come bursting out the door. I do remember reading (this article, again!) that if you want your chickens to forage for themselves, it is better to get chicks because they are smarter, or at least capable of learning. If we get hens and the hens have not had to forage, they won’t learn.

Chicks will require a bit more work, especially if we get them when the weather is still cool since we will have to keep them warm somehow. This article gives me some ideas. In fact, we have a guinea pig cage that my sister-in-law gave us that might work really well for a while. And the forums at Back Yard Chickens is really helpful, too. Of course, the best advice is to get the chicks in midsummer. I like that idea, but that’s so long to wait! I am impatient to get started with some chicks.

So right now I’m thinking we’ll get chicks. The next question is what kind and how and when to get them. That means more reading and talking, of course. I’ll have to talk to our neighbor and see where he is getting his – and when!

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One Response to “Why we want chickens”

  1. Chicken observations « A Hippy Girl in the Country Says:

    […] In other news, the chickens are free ranging for large parts of the day. It just depends on what is going on. I don’t like to leave them unsupervised, so Sunday and Monday they didn’t get out much. Then on Tuesday I let them out and I ended up getting bonked on the head by something and wanted to go inside. So I left them out and they ranged all around the house and the garden areas. They seemed very happy about this situation. I wanted a breed that would do well free-ranging or in confinement and New Hampshires are supposed to do well in either condition. The thing that I didn’t read is that once you let them range, they will not be happy being confined. They are not happy being in the movable coop for long. Even if it were bigger, I just don’t think they would want to be in there for very long. They love ranging. The benefits of free ranging chickens are numerous. They are obviously happier, therefore they will be healthier. When they start laying eggs, their eggs will be healthier as well. They are eating lots of bugs and weeds, which in turn means they are eating less feed. This is exactly what I wanted to happen. […]

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