10 Great Things About Keeping Chickens
Meet Noddy, born Tuesday the 30th of June. He is a character already, sleeping the days away on an old cushion. His brothers and sisters (all 14 of them) are very energetic and it seems Noddy is not so busy as his siblings.
I have a small holding for many years now and one of the things I enjoy most is keeping chickens. At the moment I have three coops each coop has it's own garden area for the chickens to roam about. I have young chickens in one coop, laying chickens in another and a few old girls and one old boy in the last coop plus 15 hatchlings since June 30th in my back yard, one of wich is Noddy.
There are numerous reasons to keep chickens and because they don't need a huge amount of space unless of course you have a big flock you can easily keep 2 or 3 chickens in a your garden, of course do check the legalities in your area first. If your back garden is a shared terace area with 50 other families it's probably going to be an issue, but hey bring it up at the next AGM, you never know.
10 Great Things About Keeping Chickens
1. Fresh Eggs
There is no disputing that fresh hen eggs are the best eggs in the world. They taste better, the white is thicker, the yellow is deeper and the flavor is richer and sweeter. I am so spoiled with fresh eggs and the difference is so great that I only eat my own eggs. Poached eggs are my favorite breakfast and I love a cheese and onion frittata for supper.
2. Healthier Eggs
Free-range eggs are healthier being lower in cholesterol and higher in vitamins and richer in nutrients, the chickens being allowed to roam, eating greens and devouring bugs. I also believe it's down to happier and healthier birds enjoying the freedom of the great outdoors breathing in fresh air and soaking up the sunlight.
3. Knowing Your Food
With food products being distributed all over the world and fresh produce having goodness knows what sprayed on it to keep it fresh there is something very satisfying knowing where your food comes from not to mention beging so local. Eggs are so versatile and can be used in numerous ways, making cakes, pastry, pancakes, omelettes, salads, sandwich fillers etc...
4. Less bugs
This may not be good news for vegetarians but chickens love to eat bugs. They will spend the day scratching in the dirt scouring for bugs and worms. Here on Madeira they can enjoy the added dish of a daily lizard or two. The up side is the entertainment value of watching them pick, pluck and scratch.
Since owning chickens my food waste is almost nil. I have a chicken bucket and everything goes into it (except chicken of course). The shells from the eggs are crushed up for extra grit and all our leftover vegetables and fruit (mostly peelings), plus small amounts of bread, rice, pasta and such are given as a treat to the chickens. They love it.
My seven year old doing chicken yoga during the lock-down.— 10 Great Things About Keeping Chickens
Chicken manure is an amazing fertilizer. Plants, flowers, vegetables and young trees newly planted will be leaping out of the ground. Chicken manure is very high in nitrogen and is one of better manure types. I keep an open composte heap and use after about nine months to a year once the nitrogen is less corrosive.
Chickens get old and stop laying eggs somewhere between 2 and 3 years and then it's time for the pot. Old birds make good chicken stews and soups. A traditional Portuguese chicken soup called canja (not to be mistaken for ganja) is very popular at Christmas. We often gift our chickens to some of the locals at Christmas so they can make their favorite soup. We do have a few old birds that due to exceptional health have escaped the cooking pot. Our oldest cockerel is at least ten and three old hens are seven, one of which hatched a baby chicken months back which was a lovely surprise; the chick has grown into a rather dashing looking rooster called Henry who is a big softy.
8. Productive Pets
Chicken's make great pets and are very friendly. There is no need for walks, baths, or grooming. My chickens being outside most of the day also means the chicken coop requires very little cleaning and maintenance and chickens are fine left alone for a day or two if you want to go visiting just make sure you leave plenty of food and water.
Having chickens is very social. Being outside and spending time in the fresh air is far better than being inside. Chickens like to be around you and are always looking to see if you have a treat and unlike a lot of birds they are very good with children. That's my seven year old doing yoga with our biggest breed of chicken, Orpethings. They are lovely creatures, friendly and gentle. They are old now but very healthy so they too are avoiding the cooking pot.
Keeping chickens is a huge step towards sustainability and being self sufficient. There is so much to gain from keeping chickens as listed but above all I think it is good for the soul.
I love this book as an introduction to keeping chickens. All the basics are covered including breeds, coops and beding and the author is very prudent about sustainability which of course is a big part of the future...
I highly reccommend this interesting, easy to read fun book about raising chickens...
In case you need one more great reason to keep chickens I thought I'd show you my breakfast: delicious poached eggs on homemade brown bread. Notice the rich colour of the egg yolk and the firmness of the egg white. Fresh eggs are essential to make perfectly poached eggs: runny egg yolk and firm egg white.
My Favorite Sunday Brunch...Click thumbnail to view full-size
- How to Poach Eggs Perfectly Every Time
A simple, straightforward method to poach eggs, resulting in perfect poached soft eggs every time.
Would you like to keep chickens?
© 2020 Gabriel Wilson