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Keeping Chickens for Eggs

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1 Keeping Chickens for Eggs on Mon Aug 10, 2009 1:08 pm

TripleFFarms

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You can do two things with chickens besides watch their antics.
Eat them or their eggs.

Here we concentrate on egg production for food, only.

Let's get one thing straight: you do not need a cockerel, or rooster, for a hen to produce eggs.
A lot of otherwise sensible and worldly people do not know that! Maybe the schools are to blame, but more probably the subject has never arisen.

For egg production, providing you do not want chicks from the eggs, hens are enough, although like Hangman's Cottage, you may well feel that the cock's crow in the morning is an essential element to country living.

There are other advantages to keeping a cock bird.

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2 Re: Keeping Chickens for Eggs on Mon Aug 10, 2009 1:08 pm

TripleFFarms

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With or without a cockerel, free range or restricted, you must have a chicken house.
The birds roost in it at night, shelter from bad weather, usually lay their eggs there and if free range keep safe at night from the fox.

Free range birds will find their way back in the evening and you will be able to close the door until morning.

For a family of two to four, about six hens is about right. You will get a maximum of six eggs per day, usually say, four in summer and much less in winter.

Hens go off the lay when they become broody and prefer to try to hatch eggs than lay them, so you are almost always less than the maximum.

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3 Re: Keeping Chickens for Eggs on Mon Aug 10, 2009 1:08 pm

TripleFFarms

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A hen house can be simple and inexpensive or complicated and expensive. Just like human houses.
In some ways, a simple one is often better: easier to clean and less hard on your back. Just like human houses.

A couple of roosting rails, a water bowl and hygienic washing up bowls filled with straw to act as nesting boxes.

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4 Re: Keeping Chickens for Eggs on Mon Aug 10, 2009 1:09 pm

TripleFFarms

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Housing provided, you now have to decide how much freedom you will allow your birds during daylight hours.
Can you protect your vegetables and fruit from a marauding feathered band capable of hooliganism beyond the imagination of any inner city thug?

Can you keep them off any nearby roads and a premature death?

If the answer is "yes, probably" there are a couple of things you can do to help.

If nobody nearby is likely to complain about the noise of crowing, get a cockerel. A real farmyard rooster will tend to gather his ladies, look elegant and provide endless entertainment.

Most chicken varieties come in two or three sizes: regular, smallish and tidily or more properly "heavy, bantam and miniature." Get heavy. They make less effort to fly over gates and fences. Because they are larger, even sheep fencing will discourage expeditions.

If you have to keep them in a run, any size bird will do. They all lay eggs.

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5 Re: Keeping Chickens for Eggs on Mon Aug 10, 2009 1:09 pm

TripleFFarms

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Now, we move to the fun part.
There are endless varieties of fowl. The hens all look very different and the cocks are magnificently different.

Poultry shows, that are usually a part of all county and agricultural shows, are the place to browse.

Buy hens that are "point of lay."

Hens becoming broody will be dealt with under chickens for food elsewhere.

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6 Re: Keeping Chickens for Eggs on Mon Aug 10, 2009 1:09 pm

TripleFFarms

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Feed is easy, unless you are into making life complicated and are going for maximum production.
Grain, cornflakes, left over spaghetti and, of course, the results of their foraging, everything from earthworms to illegal fruit.

They may need a little specialist grit too, available from your feed supplier.

Water must always be available.

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7 Re: Keeping Chickens for Eggs on Mon Aug 10, 2009 1:10 pm

TripleFFarms

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Locking the chickens up at night is normally sufficient to protect them from foxes, but visiting dogs may well be unable to resist temptation.
Your own dogs soon get the idea and are well able to differentiate between your poultry and visitors such as pheasants and wild ducks.

Rats are always a problem. Once you have poultry, you get rats after any spilled grain. They don't touch the chickens, but they do carry disease. Don't neglect rodent control and be careful handling dead rats.

Magpies can be real pests, stealing the eggs from the chicken house. There are ways and means of dealing with magpies. Most villages have an expert!

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8 Re: Keeping Chickens for Eggs on Mon Aug 10, 2009 1:11 pm

TripleFFarms

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Collect your eggs on frequent trips to the chicken house. Write the date on each in pencil and eat in rotation.
Are they better than supermarket offerings? Of course!

Just look at the colour of the yolk!

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