Chicken Keeping 101

It always brings a smile to my face when I head out on a cold winter morning, hands full with baking pans full of hot oatmeal and salad greens, to let the chickens, ducks and geese out of the coop.  The geese are the first out of the coop, followed by the ducks and an assortment of chickens.  I lay down a couple of the pans and make my way through the chickens piled up at the door to lay down the other pans inside.  I silently revel in the symphony of happy chickens stuffing their beaks and filling their tummies with a warm breakfast.

Chicken keeping has become a passion of mine.  At present, we have 46 hens and two roosters, who from time to time, challenge me.  I don’t let them get away with it though.  I grab whatever is handy to defend myself and try to give them a good kick in the butt.  Sometimes I land just right, other times I don’t.  I do stand my ground though and eventually they give up and walk away.  “Ah ha!  I won”, I say, as the adrenaline subsides and I chuckle with relief.

After the food bins, water buckets, and bath tubs (for the ducks) have been filled, I set about cleaning out the coop.  The nests are first, followed by the floors and underneath the roosts.  In winter, I apply the deep litter method which keeps the coop warm.  The deep litter method is simply turning over the straw and chicken droppings, and then applying more straw on top.  This works great while the temperatures are below freezing, but when things warm up, a deeper cleaning is required.  This is the only thing where I wish the temperatures would stay below freezing!

Once cleaning is done, I collect the eggs and close up the coop, leaving the small chicken door and a side door open so that the flock can come and go as they please.

Photo from Meyer Hatchery website.

I’m looking forward to receiving a brood of five Silver Gray Dorking chicks coming at the end of May.  The Dorking chicken was named after the English town of Dorking.  They are exceptional winter layers and can lay up to 140 medium to large, creamy white eggs per year.  They are apparently calm and people friendly.  They’re white eggs will be a nice contrast to the brown, green and blue eggs we currently gather in the coop.

Chickens are fun and very entertaining.  I could sit and watch them all day and never get bored.  Do you keep chickens?  What’s your favorite part about chicken keeping?

Until next time . . .

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