RancherMan & I really enjoy raising hens each year. We don’t really have a market for the eggs since I no longer work in an office. Most folks around here are raising their own chickens for their own eggs. And a friend of mine is selling eggs the local Farmer’s Market so I don’t want to move in on her business.
So every year we just buy 3-4 hens. It’s enough to provide us with the eggs we want. And we allow them to free range part of the day so they get much extra protein (and some excitement) from running around the house eating grasshoppers and such.
The garden pests are eliminated by them while providing us with even healthier eggs. That’s really a win/win, no?
We typically sell these girls in the late fall. They’re still prime-age egg layers but we don’t want to have to overwinter them and their value is much higher as productive egg-layers than meat in the freezer.
Then in the spring we’ll buy new pullets and start again. So I’m far from a chicken expert, but I thought I’d share what we do to keep our girls happy & mite free.
Last year RancherMan & I decided that housing our free-range hens in the coop of our 1880’s barn just wasn’t protecting them. Oh they were safe in the coop overnight, but when we let them out to free range each morning, predators were taking the entire flock time & time again. We needed a modified free-range setup.
So we decided we’d amend our garden to include the chickens. But our fenced garden offered some layout challenges.
I recently wrote a piece for Mother Earth News, come see how we were able to successfully incorporate the chickens into our garden area. We have been able to protect the chickens from predators as well as the garden from the chickens.
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