Wednesday is usually dog-training day, but I’m expanding the topic to include raising backyard chickens. Eventually I’ll add in some of my zoo animal stories as well. Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of dog-training tips and advice coming!
Monday I ordered my new crop of chickens! I’m so excited! Before, I’ve always tacked my chicken order on with my friend’s and she’s taken delivery. So I have not had the joy of hurrying to the post office to collect my fluffy little peepers. This year though, I have no one to share a chicken order with, and so placed my order for 25 to arrive at the end of March. Yes, you read that number right; I will soon be the proud parent of 25 fuzzy little babies. They are every bit as adorable as they look in pictures, too!
Ten of the little cuties are egg-layers, and I picked 5 different breeds, some I’ve had before, and some are new to me. The other 15 are meat birds, Cornish crosses, and will end up on my dinner table. Yum! They mature at 2 months, and in that time they grow amazingly fast; they go from little and cute, to huge, to my freezer in that shockingly short time frame.
Most people though, get chickens just for the eggs, and I have 10 new egg layers on their way. This year I’m getting 2 Buff Orpingtons, 2 Partridge Rocks, 2 Black Minorcas, 2 Araucanas, and 2 Dark Brahmas. Plus, the hatchery is throwing in one very rare, exotic chicken for free! Yippee! Too bad they’re not telling what breed, and it could be a male, which would not be good. But it’ll be a cool surprise, can’t wait to find out!
You probably know there are white eggs and brown eggs, but did you know some birds lay pale pink eggs, some lay blue-green eggs, and some lay a brown so dark it looks like chocolate? Buff Orpingtons lay pale pink, Araucanas lay blue-green, Black Minorcas lay white, the rest of my girls will lay brown eggs. I’ll have an Easter basket with all the different colors and shades! If you ever get close enough to a chicken, look at her ears. The color of the skin of a hen’s ears is the color of egg she will lay. No joke.
Why do I grow my own chickens? Taste and nutrition. Have you ever had eggs fresh from a small farm? Maybe you have had chickens yourself at some point in time? If you’ve only had store bought eggs from large production farms, then you are missing out. The egg of hen who has access to fresh air, sunshine and is able to move about and do normal chicken things, like scratch in the dirt and eat bugs, is richer in vital nutrients than one kept in tiny cage it’s whole life. Eggs from pastured chickens have:
1/3 less cholesterol
1/4 less saturated fat
2/3 more vitamin A
2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
3 times more vitamin E
7 times more beta carotene
(Thank you, Mother Earth News for the above info, and read more at: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/2007-10-01/Tests-Reveal-Healthier-Eggs.aspx#ixzz1myKaftR9 )
Have you ever thought about keeping chickens? It’s easily done in the city, and many are discovering the joy of having these beautiful birds share their home. I’ll bet you never thought of a chicken as beautiful before, but just check out what my girls will look like when they’re fully grown:
Over the next few weeks I’ll share with you some of my chicken stories. Keep checking back for hints on housing, raising and enjoying a small flock in your backyard. If you have questions or hints, please share them! I’d love to hear about your own adventures in chicken keeping.