So, you want to raise chickens?
Ha! You made it back! Glad you’re here. Let’s dive into some nitty gritty, ok?
What’s your ‘why’ is perhaps one of the most important questions to answer as you start your chicken farming journey. Knowing why you want to raise chickens will inform which kind of chicks to buy; how to feed and care for them, and to know what your commitment should be, to do it right.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably decided to start a chicken family so you could raise a chemical-and-cruelty free food source. Over the past half dozen years, we’ve grown more knowledgeable of the value of non-GMO [genetically modified] food, and its importance to us for healthier living. Most free-range chickens live for 6 years or longer. The average life span of a factory-raised chicken is less than 8 weeks. Quality of food, and quality of life for the food source may be part of your motivation. They were for me.
Farm fresh eggs. Why are they better?
Free-range chickens from the farm are fed with high quality food sources. Farm fresh eggs have thicker shells, richer yolks [they tend to be a deep orange vs. light yellow like we’re used to seeing] and are known to hold more nutritional value than store bought eggs. Simply put, farm fresh eggs taste better and are better for us. And everything we put those eggs into from casseroles to baked goods are better for it!
Free-range chicken. Why is it better?
Chickens have huge appetites. They will literally eat anything and everything you throw their way. But this is not the way you want to raise your chickens so they can live their best lives.
Free-range chickens are foragers. They spend their days eating insects, seeds, and grains. They’re also fantastic natural composters. You know those leftover vegetable or fruit scraps, leafy greens, cooked beans [not dry or raw, cooked only] you normally grind up in your disposal? Your chickens will eat it… all of it, and it’s good for them, which in turn, is good for you and your family too.
Healthy chickens lay healthy eggs and produce healthy, chemical-pesticide-preservative-free meat.
Chickens as garden keepers and fertilizers?
So, in addition to being natural composters and built-in bug and other garden-harming pest eaters, did you know that chicken waste is also one of the best natural fertilizers for any other gardening – vegetable, fruit, herbs – that you may be doing? IMPORTANT NOTE: chicken waste must compost for anywhere from 45 – 60 days to ensure it will help your plants vs. harm them. This composting period helps “mellow” the high concentrations of nitrogen and potassium phosphate naturally found in chicken waste. It is critical to compost chicken waste properly so that it doesn’t burn or kill the plants in your garden. More on that in the future.
Check back in next week where we’ll discuss the best chicks to buy to get you started!
To your success in healthy, sustainable and enjoyable chicken farming!