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.
C’mon by & sit a spell! Come hang out at our Facebook Page. It’s like sitting in a front porch rocker with a glass of cold iced tea – lots of good folks sharing! You can also follow along on Pinterest,Twitteror Instagram.
Y’all already know we split the garden area this year. About 40% of that area became the chicken ranging area and the other 60% remained my veggie garden, but more efficiently arranged. I love the symbiotic relationship of chickens/garden. I’m hoping the chickens will keep grass scratched away from the adjoining garden area to help me win the fight against Bermuda grass. And I know they will also eat all the bugs & grasshoppers coming toward my garden from their area. I can toss over grubs or produce that didn’t make it, and the hens provide me with fresh eggs. Win/Win!
I recently shared with you a low-waste chicken feeder RancherMan whipped up for me. While I love how much it reduces the chicken’s slinging it to the ground and wasting it, the wild birds were also loving the free open buffet. We’re feeding organic laying pellets, I certainly didn’t want to be feeding that to the birds! But oh we’ve discovered a secret – check out today’s Homestead Hack.