Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The first egg!

We bought our day old chicks from a feed store at the beginning of April and have been nurturing them with tender care for the past 4 months.  Every day they are given garden scraps and leftover food from our kitchen as well as the feed that they need to grow.  Then this morning I went to fill the feeder in the coop and what do I see.  A lovely chocolate brown egg laying in the litter!  Our first egg!

Our egg is the brown one next to a store bought large size egg.

When chickens first start laying they don't know to go in the nesting box and so you sometimes will find eggs on the floor.  The eggs will first be small and then as the hen ages the eggs will get bigger and bigger.  Depending on feeding and the time of year we can expect one egg per day from each chicken.  That means we will be getting from 60 to 70 eggs per week!

What do you do with all those eggs you say?  Well you can make lots of puddings, quiches, and eggs for breakfast.  You can cut down on your meat intake by supplementing eggs.  Did you know that an egg contains all vital vitamins and nutrients except vitamin C?  You can make breads and cookies and other baked goods with less expense. And those eggs are much cheaper, healthier, and fresher than store bought. In fact just the scraps from our garden and kitchen would almost be enough to feed our 10 chickens with a tiny supplement of chicken feed.  That means that we get our eggs almost for free. 

With the recent salmonella scare I am especially glad to have our own eggs.  I know exactly what is going on in my coop. My chickens are fed a varied and healthy diet with lots of greens and fruits.   If one of my chickens gets sick I will notice right off.  In the chicken industry they only notice a disease spreading when the chickens start dying.  Would you want to eat an egg from a sick chicken?   And what happens when meat prices go up as they are forecasting in the coming months?  For those people who are already struggling having a way to provide their own protein would be smart.

Plus having chickens is fun!  They are neat to watch and pretty too.  There are so many varieties to choose from that anyone could find a breed that appeals to them.  We spend probably 5 to 10 minutes per day feeding them because we have an automatic water and feeder.  And every week I throw some fresh wood shavings into the coop to keep it clean.  The biggest job is shoveling it out twice a year and all that lovely manure goes into the compost heap for enriching our garden.

All around having chickens is worth the work.

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