The baby chickens are here! Last Thursday we received a new batch of baby chickens. The order from My Pet Chicken, http://www.mypetchicken.com/, was delivered to my door step via overnight mail. Inside the box were 5 chirping little baby chickens consisted of 2 Easter eggers, 1 Welsummer, 1 Dominique, and 1 Australorp. The babies will be living in a brooder (large plastic container with a heat lamp, chick feed, and water) insider our house for the next 4 weeks or until they have their adult feathers. We will be recording their development so keep checking out the Chicken Chronicles.
Two years ago we decided to get our own flock of backyard chickens for fresh eggs. We had been buying fresh eggs at our local seasonal farmers market, but from October to May when the farmers market was closed, we couldn’t get fresh eggs. I did some research about our local city ordinances pertaining to chickens and found out we could have chickens, but no roosters. So I started looking around for how to raise chickens, and where to get chickens and found Backyard Chickens, http://www.backyardchickens.com/, and My Pet Chicken, http://www.mypetchicken.com/. Backyard Chickens is a fantastic forum on everything you will ever need to know about caring for your chickens. My Pet Chicken is a wonderful place to order chickens. They have an excellent bird profile that helps you select birds for your part of the country, color of eggs, personality of the birds, gender selection, and you can order as few as three birds for shipment.
Backyard chickens use to be common. Less than fifty years ago, everyone had backyard chickens. Both my parents and my husband’s parents grew up with chickens. Nowadays, backyard chickens are a rare and sometime illegal occurrence. We are fortunate enough to live in a city where backyard chickens are legal, but no roosters. Granted, the neighbors dog is louder and more obnoxious than any rooster I have ever met.
So why did the backyard chicken disappear? The industrialization of farming lead to the low cost, mass production of factory farmed chickens and eggs. This movement toward industrialized food not only separated us from the source of our food, it also stripped us of our knowledge for raising and keeping backyard chickens. Yes, it’s much easier to go to the big box store to buy 99 cent eggs. But 99 cent eggs come at a much larger price, not only at the expense of our health, but also the welfare of our local farmers.
Now let me dispel some rumors about chickens. Rumor 1)They smell. Like any animal, if you don’t care for them and don’t clean up after them they will smell. Our girls have free range of our backyard and I clean their coop every five days. They do NOT smell. Rumor 2) Chickens are loud. If you have a rooster, yep they can be pretty loud, but hens are not loud. They will announce to the world when they lay an egg, or when they are crabby (usually hungry or getting ready to lay an egg). Our next door neighbors know we have chickens, but two houses down or across the street people don’t even know that we have chickens. Rumor 3) You need a rooster to get eggs. False, hens will happily lay unfertilized eggs as long as they get proper nutrition and 12 to 14 hours of sunlight. Rumor 4) Chickens lay only extra large white eggs. Hens lay eggs in a variety of colors from chocolate brown to pale blue and can vary in size. Rumor 5) Chickens can fly out of your backyard. Possibly, but they don’t really fly. They sort of jump and flap which can get them about 3 feet off the ground. Large birds, like our Welsummer can’t fly, but our little Cochin bantam, can jump over our 3 foot garden fence when on the hunt for tasty arugula.
Now that you know the truth about backyard chickens, consider raising up your own flock of hens. They are low maintenance, produce wonderful free fertilizer, will bring you hours of entertainment, and most importantly they can make you the most healthy and delicious eggs you’ve ever had for breakfast.