by Heath Ward, co-founder of City Chick
How do chickens handle the winter?
It’s always one of the first questions someone asks during one of the chicken classes that I teach in Atlanta. If this is your first winter with backyard chickens, you’re probably going to worry about what to do with your flock once the temperatures start dropping. Chickens have made it through some pretty rough winters without human interference for hundreds if not thousands of years. Sometimes our good intentions to help a chicken during the winter can actually hurt the chicken – but more on that later. (more…)
What the cluck!? When it comes to raising your own chickens, there’s a lot to consider. You probably already know the benefits of backyard chickens, like the ability to produce your own food, or the chance to teach children how to care for animals. Before you get started with a backyard coop, though, here are some other important things to think about – and some pretty awesome services to help you out along the way! (more…)
by Homestead Deb of RentTheChicken.com
When I grew up… lets just say “a few years down the road” I never heard of chicken factory farms or antibiotics given to chickens. All I remember is running to the grainery after school to see if the baby chicks arrived!! They came in cardboard boxes with little round holes and made a lot of cheeping noises! We had a big metal looking
“roof” that had big lights in it and it hung from a rafter in the ceiling down to about 15 inches above the floor and that kept them warm.
I always stood there mesmerized watching them scurry around looking for food and when they were getting too cold they huddled under the lighted roof. Of course being the farm girl that I was, I always had to try to make friends with them. As a matter of fact, I did have one particular dark Brahma that just decided to follow me around the farm. I didn’t even bribe her with food! It didn’t take this girl long to begin carrying her around under my arm and enjoying time together in the summer sun. Everyone would chuckle when they came over and witnessed the little blonde girl with glasses and her hen running around the farm behind her. This hen wasn’t your standard Leghorn which it seems we usually had to raise for eggs and meat. That breed of chicken is so flighty and will run away if you look at them crossways! No, this hen was different! She was gray and had feathers on her legs. My Grandmother informed me that “those feathers were her stockings and she looked like an old Grandma”. That is how my sweet little hen lovingly received her name “Grandma”. Yes it was her “stockings” that had me convinced to name her that but also I loved my Grandma very much so the name was given in her honor as well.
My Grandmother and I would always feed, water and yes… butcher the chickens for our dinner table. We also collected the eggs together until I was old enough to do it on my own. I still have the same metal little oblong pail to this day. I use it to collect my eggs now. My hope is that when I have grandchildren we can carry that same pail to collect the eggs together.
I believe because of that wonderful woman and our special bond for 37 years, is a huge reason why I am partial to a lot of the old fashioned days and ways and especially my love of chickens.
I feel very lucky to have been born in an age where maybe some things were tougher like working outside, but things were also much simpler. I was very adamant about handing down some of the lessons I learned back then to my kids and yes that included chicken keeping. It also included collecting the eggs in the same metal pail.
Now days unfortunately there are less and less farms and kids that are able to learn about and care for farm animals. People are really missing out.
Oh I know that some people think there is a lot to chicken keeping but there really isn’t much at all. Maybe they feel that they can’t keep them over winter or that you need a rooster for eggs and they don’t want to listen to a noisy rooster. To get eggs from a hen you do not need to have a rooster hanging around waking you and the neighbors up at 5:00 in the morning! Those sweet hens don’t need the aggravation of a big loudmouth rooster to lay eggs.
When you think about the pros versus the cons you may think differently about taking up chicken keeping.
I work at a high school and my chickens can not produce enough eggs for all the people that want to buy them at $2.00 a dozen. I was always thinking in my head, “good grief your kids won’t like these once they find out they didn’t come from a store.” Was I ever wrong!! Now the kids are asking their parents who work with me to buy fresh eggs! They absolutely love the taste…and some of these “kids” are teenage girls!! So a very big resounding PRO is the taste! I don’t tell them how good the eggs are for them, but if they knew that there are more Omega fatty acids that are essential to our body to prevent diseases in a farm fresh egg because the chickens eat bugs, worms, grass, corn and the list goes on, maybe they wouldn’t eat them…or maybe they would eat more?
Fresh eggs are also a valuable source of vitamin D. Yes all eggs do have cholesterol. I can not say for sure if fresh eggs have more of the good cholesterol, but I can tell you that they certainly are not injected with any growth hormones which is another huge PRO!
I for one am absolutely sickened when I read how “commercial” chickens are treated. The chickens are in a tiny cage that they can barely turn around in. Their bodies must be in pain being cramped up in there as they are not allowed to do what chickens are put on this earth to do and that is to run around eating grass, bugs, scratching in the dirt and laying eggs.
The public needs to be careful of the “cage free” label as well. Yes these birds are cage free…. living in a huge pole building with hundreds of other birds with them. Picture it….not enough room, little if any natural light, while some are sick and dying and others already dead laying there for who knows how long being walked over and around.
USDA Certified Organic I believe to be legit. I believe the chickens see the light of day and are treated humanely. Chickens need to be chickens to get the correct egg production. My chickens run around outside trying to spot the elusive bug or eating grass and then lounging around in the sun taking a well deserved dust bath….hence the reason I have a few “pot holes” in the chicken yard. That is a small price to pay for healthy happy chickens. Dust baths are also a must for chickens. It keeps mites away which in turn keeps them healthy. In the end all we really need are happy healthy chickens for healthy tasty eggs we can serve to our families.
Homestead Deb and family are serving the Greater Wausau Area. Deb with her husband Wayne, son Duston, and daughter Nikki help with the chicken business. Currently they have 22 chickens, two Welsh Harlequin ducks, an outside cat that sleeps with the chickens and ducks, and 3 dogs. Deb is an avid flower and vegetable gardener. Deb’s other hobbies include canning, crafts, crocheting, playing a little banjo, and racing in the mud bogs with her family and friends. www.RentTheChicken.com
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