Chicken Feed

When it comes to eating, we have found that our chickens will try anything once, your toes, fingers, hair, buttons, infact anything small enough to fit in their beaks, and more often than not, pieces of bread that are far too big to fit into their beaks, but they’ll try anyway. Since getting our chickens we have mainly fed them with layer pellets, as they were raised on pellets at the farm where we bought them. Occasionally when the supermarket has run out of pellets, we buy layer mash, which is a bit like porridge mix,  you add water and stir it up, we use a bucket, the girls seem to enjoy the change from pellets, my partner told me that one of her pupils, who’s family also keep chickens, said that her parents are mixing up the mash with hot water (as it’s winter here), and it has increased their hens egg output.

One important factor when choosing a feed, is to check whether it contains grit, or shell,  which is essential for the chickens diet, it helps with forming the egg shell, lack of calcium will cause soft shelled eggs, some pellets have the shell included the the pellet, other manufactures place a small bag of crushed oyster shell in with the pellets, or alternatively you can but it from most pet shops. I always try to bring a few shells from any beaches we visit, I put in them in a plastic bag, place them on a hard surface and smash them up with a hammer, do this at home, as it looks strange at the beach.

Other suppliments to the hens diet come from the garden, in the form of bugs and grasses, some plants and weeds, they have really helped keep the weeds down the the back garden, we also throw our food scraps on the compost heap, and they will rake through those and pick out any good bits. A bit of varity is the main thing when it comes to chicken feed, it makes them healthier, both in body and mind, they get bored with the same food everyday.

Layer pellets
Layer pellets

feed

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The Cost Effectiveness of Chicken Keeping

Hi chicken keepers, or prospective chicken keepers, I recently read a report from an american publication, about a dispute between neighbours in the city of Salem, where the city by-law says the keeping of farm animals is prohibited, domestic pets only.

 The owner of the hens is disputing that they are penned the whole time, and are no bother to anyone other than herself, the case is pending in court, it appeared that the journalist was pro chicken keeping, until a quote from a professor from some obscure university said ” the cost of purchasing the hens, plus buying a coop, which can run into hundreds of dollars, then the feed and time involved, made it totally inaffective as a cost cutting self sufficient exercise”. Poppycock!!

 I imagine this comment was made through ignorance, that may be the case for the yuppies of chicken keeping, but I suspect most of the coops have been made by the keeper, as most of the increase in chicken keeping is from the undeveloped third world countries, where live chickens are sold to eat, there are no Safeways, Tesco or Foodtown to supply prepared birds in shiny plastic bags, therefore the cost would be smaller than buying from breeders as we do in the western world. As for feed, again with no suppliers of feed in remote areas of the world they rely on there surroundings and scraps from human consumption.

So here’s our financial figures, cost of purchasing hens $96.00 , cost of coop $0.00 (totally recycled materials), cost of feed $2o per month. The biggest cost is TIME, one could argue that one til the cows come home, but lets not bring other animals into it, that will just confuse matters.

The price of half a dozen free range eggs at the supermarket $4.00 (organic $6.00), normally we would have purchased half a dozen in our weekly shopping,  we use more eggs now we have more, in baking cakes and other such delights, we also barter with spare eggs, for home grown vegetables from the neighbours, and sometimes we swap the eggs for gold coins, which you can then use later at shops to buy stuff, like chicken feed. ( all dollars figures mentioned are in NZ dollars).

At the end of the day, our seven hens are less expensive to keep than a domestic cat or dog, however the hens provide food in return, they also add to our wellbeing, they provide secondary products like fertiliser, feathers and meat if you so wish, healthy eggs with maximum omega levels, they are really alot of fun to have around, each with their own character.

So it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to start keeping chickens in your back garden, especially if you’re handy with a hammer. The returns are wide and varied, it’s given me the contents of this blog.  As pointed out to me by Karmyn from Oregan, they are also good bug eaters, organic pesticide.

dust bath

dust bath

Back at the Ranch!

Hi there, well I’m back, where did the time go, I hear you cry, well maybe not, but I certainly am, it seems to have flown by, no sooner had we arrived in the UK, that I wished we would be there for longer, it was and still is a great summer. My 12 year old son had a great time, all the sights of London, and time with his sister and cousins.

Ofcourse apon return the first thing we both did was to say hello to the hens, I do believe they knew it was us who had returned, they all seem fine, although Nancy looks very much in the later stages of moulting, and it seems the chicken sitter has done a fine job, Betty looks as if she has fully grown while we’ve been gone, which in turn has made Manuella the Minorcan, look as if she has shrunk. I shall look for eggs tomorrow, looking forward to fresh healthy eggs again.

It seems as though it has been very wet here, the back garden as turned to mud, although the sun has just poked it’s face out, here’s hoping for a few days sunshine for our return.

 chickens

No hens to be found in Ireland

Hi there, I have n’t found any hens in Ireland, but having a great time all the same, a wedding, the beach, a barbicue at  the caravan in Dunmore, the weather has been typical. Wet and sunny. The hospitality from my partners parents and family is always great, they used to keep chickens too.