The Country Chicken Farmer
(Grand Forks, B.C. Canada)
Mama Hen and her chicks
My neighbor has offered to trade me for some chicks which he’s hatching out in his two incubators which hold 60 eggs. His hens are part barred rock or red rock and his rooster is a huge Buff Orpington cross.
Eventually I want to get some Bantams so I can hatch out more of my own chicks, and I really like the green egg layers. Aside from laying interesting eggs, the hens are hardy and able to scrounge their own food.
I want to get away from buying feed with additives like medications or chemicals. The best ration is either home grown (not going to happen due to my small amount of arable land) or just plain old cracked grains that I can mix with cooked potatoes or other natural foods. I’ll put leftovers and bales of hay into their area for them to scratch, and grow worms for additional protein for them.
I’d like to build a chicken tractor, which is a pen with wheels on so you can move it around when they’ve scratched up an area.
If you grow alfalfa or fall rye in a bed, then move the tractor onto it, they’ll dig it over for you – less work for you, more nutrition for them and their eggs – a win, win situation.
Apart from the great compost they provide by manuring the beds for you, as well as when you clean out their roosting area, they are avid bug destroyers and weed minimizers.
If you can provide a clean dry place to sleep, and some boxes for egg laying which are easy to clean ( I just use small cardboard boxes which can be thrown in the fire to get rid of bugs) they’ll be happy.
New chicks will arrive at the end of May, so I have to get going and build a brooder for them until they’re old enough to go into a proper pen outside.
Main requirements are a place with no draft or cold and safety from predators, and of course, a rustic garden chair so you can sit and watch their amusing antics.