... and how everyone with a backyard can keep a couple of hens.
If you want fresh eggs every day, without much work involved, then you should think about getting a few chicken.
Everyone who knows me well, know that I'm the crazy chicken lady. I love my chicken so much and I want to share to all why it's so easy to keep them as pets.
But what about the space?
If you have a backyard or a garden you can keep at least a few hens. They need a coop for the night, with a roost to sit on and a fenced outside space. The size of the coop should be around 1-2 m2 and the outside space should be a minimum of 10 m2. It would be ideal if you could let them outside in the daytime so they have some time in the garden. They also need a few nests to lay their eggs in. Best is a dark corner in the coop for them to lay their eggs, they prefer to sit and do it in the dark.
How many should I get?
First of all, don't keep chicken alone, they thrive off living in a group and need it for their well being.
If you want a small group of hens, the best would be to get two pairs, so four all together. Two of one breed and the other two another breed. Or all four of the same breed. Why? Well, they like to stay together with their own kind and comfort each other. Usually the pairs become best friends for all their lives, they always stay together.
Also you should get four because when you just brought home new hens, it sometimes happens that some die after a few weeks, it doesn't happen every time but it's usual. That's why it's better getting four hens because if one or two die then they won't be alone. And I don't like to recommend a group of three hens because usually one gets left out.
What kind of breed should I get?
I love keeping old breeds alive and not getting the boring hybrid hen type of chicken. So for clarification, hybrid hens are the ones that are living in the mass food-industry and the breed from which we get our eggs at the supermarket. They usually live only a few years, they are overly bred and they lay very many eggs in the first 1-2 years after which they stop laying eggs completely.
The older breeds live up to 9 years, lay constantly a good amount of eggs (of course depends very much on the breed) and are over all healthier than the hybrids. It's also great to keep some of those rarer breeds alive.
I've had many different breeds for example silky chicken, many German breeds such as German Sperber (left on the picture above), Dresdner (on the right in the picture above), Russian Pawlowskaja, french Maran, Araucana and so on.
It's hard to choose a favorite breed, but I think Pawlowskaja and Silky chicken are some of the nicest looking breeds you can keep.
Should I get a rooster and are there any benefits in keeping one?
Well that's completely up to you. I really have liked my roosters in the past but not enjoyed the nightly wake-up calls.
But they do also serve a real purpose. They fertilize the eggs, so that you can get little chicks. They protect the hens from danger and keep the group nicely together.
But they can also be real bullies and not treat the hens so nicely all the time. They might hack them and push them around. You also shouldn't get a large rooster together with small hens because he might crush them while sitting on them.
How do I take care of chicken?
Well you just let them out of the coop in the mornings, feed them and let them in the outside space. It would be good if you can let them free in the afternoons, after they have laid their eggs in the mornings, so they can roam freely.
Chicken take care of those nasty unwelcome guests like slugs and insects in your garden. They find so many other things in the garden full of vitamins, that they need for living.
In the afternoons they go on their own in their coop and you close the door so that the fox or the marten can't get in at night.
What are the environmental benefits in keeping chicken?
You won't have any food rests anymore. There is no need to throw food out because your chicken will take care of all your food rests. But watch out, don't feed them anything too spicy or something that's already old.
You won't need to buy eggs at the supermarket anymore so you won't be supporting the mass industry.
You will be in a way living off your own ground, which is an amazing feeling.