The temptation of real, fresh, healthy eggs is strong, folks. I don’t know about you, but I need some fresh eggs on our farm. While I’m far from an expert, we’ve only had chickens for a little over a year, I think I’ve learned one thing….
No one said this would be easy.
Nothing worthwhile comes easy. Raising your own food is certainly worthwhile, but it doesn’t come without sacrifices. If getting up before the sun, come rain, sleet or snow, isn’t your cup of tea, well then… no fresh eggs for you.
Give and take.
You’ve gotta work for what you want.
I keep telling myself that. Sometimes, I get in a funk and I think there’s no way I can do this. Then, I kick that girl outta my mind, because… I can do this. I want this. This is the life we’ve wanted for the past 8 years. Even though it’s not perfect, we’re doing this.
What You Need to Know About Raising Chickens for Eggs
1. They’re social.
You can’t have just one chicken. Really, I don’t know why one would only want one chicken. You should be planning on a minimum of 4 birds. If you’re buying from a feed store or a hatchery, realize most places have a minimum purchase of 6 birds.
2. They need a coop.
Of course, everyone who’s anyone already knows this. However, a lot of people don’t realize that it takes either time, money or both to produce a coop.
Each bird needs a minimum of 4 square feet of floor space in the coop. The more space, the happier they’ll be.
3. They need a place to stretch.
Unless you plan on free ranging your birds, they’re going to need a run. You can build one with some chicken fencing and t-posts fairly easily. If you do choose to free range your birds, realize they’re going to make themselves right at home in your garden and may very well eat your food. Or… peck it to the point of unrecognizable death….
4. They’re defenseless.
Really, unless you live in an area where nothing exists, they can’t protect themselves. Everything from your own dog, to the barn cat, to the chicken hawks, to the coyotes… all of them and more are predators of your new chicken friends. Protect them, they’re not going to be able to protect themselves and no one likes waking up to a blood bath of dead birds.
5. Nothing in life is free.
Chickens aren’t free after you purchase them. They have to be fed, and depending on how many you have, this can be quite costly. It amazes me that people are shocked when they see the price tag of real, pastured, organic fed, local chicken eggs. Feed is not a cheap item, my friends. Especially organic feed. You want to know why they’re so expensive, look at how much it costs to raise them. It put things in perspective.
Also, the coop supplies may or may not cost. There are some awesome pallet projects out there you can totally use to DIY a coop, or, you can buy one. If you make a run, that will cost you the fencing and the t-posts at least.
6. The best things in life take hard work and dedication.
Your hens should be laying all spring, summer and fall. They’ll even lay in the winter if you supplement them with light. If they’re getting 12 hours of light a day, they should lay. You’re going to have to go out and collect those eggs every day.
While you’re there… you’re going to be shoveling manure (which you can turn into amazing compost) every day, all year. Even when it’s cold, even when the hens aren’t laying. You’ve got to keep their coop clean.
In the winter, you’ll get to battle with frozen water and trying to find a solution for that. Because, we all love melting water in -20….
You’re not going on vacation, unless you know someone to sit your chickens. Make sure that person is reliable. Sacrifices, folks, sacrifices.
7. They’ll be worth it.
If you’re anything like me, all of the cost, headaches, lack of vacations and manure shoveling will totally be worth it. You take care of them, they keep you in fresh eggs. I can think of nothing better than farm fresh eggs right from my own back yard. This is the stuff dreams are made of.
Well, my dreams. If you don’t share my fresh egg dreams that’s fine. Just don’t judge my crazy dreams.
This is going to be fun.