Raising Chickens

by Catherine Haug

Hens & Compost (Guerrant)

Hens & Compost (Guerrant)

I don’t know about you, but chicken is just about my favorite meat (after lutefisk). And of course one cannot do without eggs for breakfast or for baking. And what about eggnog at Holiday time? Especially when times get tough and we must depend on our own (or the community’s) resources for our survival.

ESP is planning a panel discussion on raising chickens (and other poultry) for our February gathering. To get you started, check out this article from:

And lest you think chickens just won’t work in your suburban residence, check out:

Did you know that chickens offer many other benefits for us humans, besides eggs and meat?

Chickens as Pets

What can be more entertaining than watching chickens scratch the ground and run around the yard, getting into everything? And they like being held and petted, too. Your dog will love his new playmates.

And, heck, they pay for themselves by providing eggs daily, and meat when it’s time to say goodbye.

For more, see:

Gardening with Chickens: the Chicken Tractor

Chicken Tractor (from The City Chicken)

Chicken Tractor (from The City Chicken)

What task do chickens do the best?  Digging! Give them a patch of ground and they’ll have it tilled and fertilized in no time at all. Of course, this ability can be both a boon and a curse, depending on where you allow them to roam and dig.

So, why not plan ahead, and let your chickens do your  tilling for you, or manage your compost. Build a moveable cage and run, fitted to the top of your raised beds (or compost pile). Set it atop a bed you want tilled and let the chickens do their thing. They will excavate, add new excrement, and eat weed seeds and insects.

This is permaculture, at its best!

For more, see:

Chickens for Insect & Weed Control

Chickens are natural omnivores: they need both plant and animal foods in their diet to be healthy and produce those wonderful dark yellow-orange yolks. Well, of course they don’t eat the meat of large animals, but they love insects and maggots. In fact, one of the reasons they dig, is in search of maggots in the soil.

And they also eat seeds. So you don’t want to turn them loose in a newly seeded garden. But for ridding a lawn of weed seeds naturally, they can’t be beat. Or turn them loose on your compost, to find the seeds your composting process did not kill.

For more, see:

One Response to “Raising Chickens”

  1. Linda Christensen says:

    Sorry I can’t be on your panel due to a conflict on Wednesday evenings. We do the chickens pretty low key: 2 hens and 1 rooster. We would just
    get 2 hens next time tho as the rooster is tearing up the hens; he needs
    more hens.

    We have lots of predators here- hawks, eagles, fox, raccoons,
    coyotes, skunks, but we have not had a problem yet. Keeping the chickens in at dusk and thru the nite works good. They roam all over during the day. [At night] they will go in themselves, but we secure the door to be sure.

    The only other tip i will pass on is that they prefer public radio,
    especially classical and opera.