I have been keeping chickens for about 3 years and now that I have started I plan to always have them! I’ve always enjoyed birds, even having a pet conure parrot once. Once you see how much personality they have, you are hooked! Not to mention chickens are extremely easy to keep and maintain. So hopefully my experiences can help others take the plunge into the wonderful world of chicken keeping!
Why Keep Chickens?
Obviously one of the main reason to keep chickens are for the fresh eggs. I can still remember when I cracked open that first egg. I couldn’t get over how yellow and vibrant the yolk was. One of the first things I cooked were crepes and I had to laugh at how yellow they turned out! If your like me and you love eggs, either just by themselves or when your’e baking, you will never want to use store bought eggs again!
Not only are the eggs fresh, but there is another very important reason to keep chickens for eggs: You control what the chickens eat and how the eggs are handled. Part of the reason we have so many problems with salmonella from store bought eggs is because of the way they are processed before they get to the store. When eggs are laid, they have a protective coating on them called the “Bloom or Cuticle”. Since egg shells are porous, this bloom helps to protect the egg from microorganisms. Store bought eggs are washed and even sometimes bleached before they are sold. This removes the protective coating and leaves the eggs vulnerable to microorganisms like salmonella. Traditionally and in other countries eggs are not washed, so this is a practice that has evolved from large scale farming practices. For my own eggs, I wash them just before I use them, keeping the bloom in-tacked.
If you’re eating eggs, controlling what goes into them can have a impact on your health. There are so many options as to what to feed your chickens that it is very easy to tailor it to your needs. Do you want organic? There are a couple was to do this: Buy organic feed or free-range the chickens (making sure that there are no pesticides on what they are eating). Are you on a budget? You can get the cheaper non-organic feed, free-range and give them kitchen scraps. I even raise my own meal worms to give them as treats! There is also fermented feed which you process yourself and is supposed to be very healthy for the chickens. Yogurt can be given as a treat! You can even create an entire edible garden for them to roam in! It really just depends on your time and budget and what you want to prioritize. Keep in mind that chickens are omnivores and grazers, so give them a varied diet that includes grasses to graze on. Avoid giving “scratch” more than as just a treat.
There is a great satisfaction that comes with using something that you have home-grown. There is also a peace of mind of knowing where your food comes from and what went into it. Once you start this path it is hard to stop because it is so rewarding and fun!