Last year we tried our hand at raising chickens for the very first time. We bought day-old chicks and raised all that fuzzy cuteness into adult chickens/roosters. We ended up with four hens and two beautiful roosters but someone STOLE both of our roosters! Can you even believe that??!
Aaaanyway not wanting to overwinter the hens due to predator issues we sold them last fall after I had preserved many of the excess eggs by freezing them. I used those frozen eggs all winter and about the time my freezer started running low on my supply we decided it was time to raise chickens again this year!
RancherMan & I are slowly learning what veteran chicken-raisers have known all along about raising chickens and about fresh free-range eggs. Last year we raised our very first batch of chickens from day-old chicks. It was lots of fun seeing them turn from fuzzy peepers to a full grown egg-producing chicken.
I learned that it took them 21 weeks to grow enough to produce their first egg and I also learned that chickens don’t just lay eggs in the morning. In fact their egg-laying time isn’t even a balanced 24-hour time span. (or maybe they just like to sleep in from time to time – who knows?? LOL)
But I learned even more about the eggs themselves. For instance I didn’t know:
by Texas Homesteader *this post contains affiliate link
Last year we dipped our toe into the raising-chickens waters. We bought day-old chicks and raised them until fall when we sold them (we didn’t want to attempt to overwinter last year) Oh how much fun they were to raise! We free-ranged them and they made quite a dent in the grasshopper population and an incredible impact on the fly reduction on our cows in the barn pens.
Oh yeah, and they gave us FRESH EGGS! We knew that as spring drew closer we’d consider again if we wanted to raise chickens. The verdict is in: Um, YES PLEASE!
I’m preserving or using up my fresh eggs from our pastured flock as quickly as I can. ‘ve made breakfast burritos using eggs and cooked sausage wrapped in a tortilla & frozen for quick grab-n-go convenience.
But I still want to make sure none of our fresh eggs go to waste.
I recently made egg salad with several of them but as many of you know, boiling & peeling very fresh eggs is a challenge indeed. I was surprised that I had no trouble at all with them. Here’s how I did it:
After waiting 21 weeks we are finally collecting eggs each day from our small flock of free-range chickens. Studies by Mother Earth News show that pastured poultry lay more nutritious eggs than the supermarket counterparts.
The benefits include 1/3 less cholesterol and 1/4 less saturated fat, and also 2/3 more vitamin A, 2 times more omega 3 fatty acids, 3 times more vitamin E, 7 times more beta carotene and 4-6 times more vitamin D!
Wow, that’s a powerful nutritional punch! You GO girls! I want to make sure none of these precious eggs goes to waste so I’m coming up with ways to use them while they’re fresh, nutritious and delicious.
We decided one year it was time to get our feet wet raising chickens. We’d never raised chickens before so we bought our Ideal 236 chickens as day-old chicks in the spring. One was a banded female but we were just hoping the other two were female.
Another chicken-shopper at the feed store told us that although not 100% accurate, you could hold the chick upside down and if they struggled with their legs to upright themselves they had a higher probability of being a rooster. But if they were relatively still they had a higher probability of being a hen.
Using their advice, whether or not an old wives tale, we picked up three of the cute fuzzy yellow chicks.
Back in April we bought day-old straight-run chicks. Three Black Minorcas for their larger body frames and three Ideal 236 for their larger egg-laying abilities. After the chicks grew their feathers we put them in a mobile chicken tractorand moved them to fresh grass every day. The chicks grew & grew!
When they outgrew the chicken tractor we moved them into the chicken coopin our 1880’s barn. We let them out each morning to free range and locked them securely back in the barn each night.
The baby chicks now looked like grown chickens and Interestingly enough the Black Minorca roosters have different colored cheek patches. We anticipated they would have large white patches and one of them does, but the other on has large red patches on his cheeks instead.