I’m going to keep chickens. For anyone who knows me and my family, this is in response to my other half keeping bees and blogging about it. I wanted a blog subject, and we want to keep chickens, for eggs, not meat (yet). So they will be mine, and I’m going to record my experiences of them here, along with anything else I think worth sharing, maybe some egg recipes! So in this first post I’ll document my initial findings about chickens and share some interesting facts about them.
Right then some chicken trivia...
- The chicken (Gallus Gallus Domesticus) was first thought to have been domesticated in South East Asia about 10,000 years ago, and from there was introduced to China, India and Persia and then into Europe by 500 BC. They were known by the ancient Egyptians as “the bird that lays everyday”.
- In 2003 there was an estimated world population of 24 billion chickens.
- The male of the species is a Cock or Rooster; a Cockerel is a male under 1year of age. I will not be having a Cock bird as I don’t imagine my neighbours would appreciate the noise. And as we don’t want little chicks, we don’t need our eggs fertilised!
- The female of the species are Hens or Pullets if they are young.
- Chickens may live for 5-10 years, although they lay fewer eggs as they get older. The oldest chicken was 16 years old when she died of heart failure according to the Guinness book of Records.
- Chickens can’t fly very long distances. If you've ever eaten at a Nando’s restaurant and read the wall, you'll know that the longest recorded flight is 13 seconds, barely long enough to get across the road!
- A flock of chickens will have an established “pecking order”, and if an individual is added, or taken away from the flock it can cause disruption.
- Hindu’s believe that a chicken can be a channel for evil spirits at cremation ceremonies in Indonesia, and Jews believe that courtesy towards your spouse should be learned from the Rooster, as he will always invite his ladies to eat first.
I haven’t done a lot of research into different breeds of chicken, or the best age at which to get them, because I came across the British Hen Welfare Trust website, they re-home ex battery hens, rather than selling them on for pet food! Giving three hens a happy retirement feels like a good thing to do. They should be back to full health within a couple of weeks, and should lay quite well, after all I am doing this for fun, not for profit.
Chickens are allegedly very easy to look after, and are not time consuming – they only require about 15 minutes care each day, then a weekly clean of their coop. They are quite cheap to keep too, and have basic needs which must be met, which I will be looking into before I get them:
- Somewhere to live: it must be sheltered, clean (ish) and dry and include a nest box, and an outdoor run. All of this must be fox proof. There are loads of designs and makes to choose from, and can range from the easily affordable to the very expensive.
- Something to eat and drink and feeders and drinkers to put the food and drink in.
- An owner who can spot any illness or medical problems and can provide worming treatments etc.
- Names: My ladies will be Omelette, Custard and Bennie (short for Eggs Benedict).