I adore having chickens.
At the start of the year, I told you I was excited to share more about myself and the farm with you. One of the questions I get asked most is what was the first animal we got on the farm? The answer is a chicken, eight chickens to be exact. After finding our farmhouse in North Carolina, as we drove away from our meeting with the realtor, I turned to Mr. A and said, “I love this house and I want chickens!” He started laughing, but he was the only one, I was dead serious.
I had wanted chickens back in California, so this declaration was not a new revelation. However, back in California chickens were a pipe dream. Our backyard could hardly fit our two pugs, a patio set, and our three by five foot garden. There was no way it could fit chickens and a coup too! Aside from space being an issue, there was also the HOA (Home Owner’s Association) to contend with in California. You can bet that if you can’t have a portable basketball hoop out on your driveway, there is NO WAY they are going to allow chickens to free range in your backyard. Needless to say, the chicken dream died in California before it was even born.
Now we are in North Carolina, on our new farm, and the dream is very much a reality. After we had been settled in for about a month (barely settled), I started researching chickens. I was determined to make my dream come true. I plan to share with you what I learned about chickens in my research and I what I have learned since owning them. The first thing you should know, chickens are awesome!
Chickens do not start laying eggs until about six months of age. Keep this in mind when you see those sweet little chickies at the feed stores. They are so cute, but you will be caring for them emotionally and financially until they are about six moths old before you get your first egg.That’s a long time! After learning this, I decided to get my chickens as pullets. For the layman, a pullet is a teenage chicken. The chickens I got were about three to four months old. Right at the six month period, we got our first egg. It was such an exciting day!
After learning about the phases of a chicken’s life, I started researching breeds. The first breeds of chicken we started with was the Rhode Island Red and an Orpington. They are known for their docile temperament and their great egg productivity. Both were very true in my experience. Our Reds and Orpington were laying at six months on the dot and each of them have been giving me about five light brown eggs a week. After feeling confident about keeping chickens, I decided to branch out to some different breeds.
When I was ready to branch out, I wanted chickens that I thought were a beautiful breed and/or different looking. I also wanted to start getting a variety of colored eggs. Did you know some chickens lay green and blue eggs? Neat, right?! My Silkie, Snickerdoodle, was the next chicken I brought home. Early on, while doing my research, I fell in love with the look of this chicken. I knew if I was successful with the Reds and Orpington that a Silkie was going to be the next chicken on the farm. Although Silkies are a smaller breed of chicken, they are incredibly adorable, fuzzy and also have a very docile temperament. She lays a very light brown egg and it’s smaller than average. Due to the smaller egg, for recipes that call for one egg, I usually use two of her eggs. After the Silkie, I got a couple of Ameraucana (Addy and Pearl) because not only are they beautiful birds, but they lay green eggs which I was very excited about. Finally, I got a Black Copper Maran, Frenchie. She is also very beautiful and lays a dark copper colored egg. What I will tell you about the Ameraucanas and the Black Copper Maran is that they are not the friendliest of chickens. I believe it’s because they are flyers. They can’t fly in the true sense of the word, but they can get up to high places if they need protection and I think this attribute in them causes them to be less friendly with us. They aren’t aggressive by any means, but they don’t love to eat from your hand and definitely do not like to be held like the other chickens.
Overall, chickens are quite easy to care for. My chickens free range during the day. At night, they make their way to the coup where I close them up for protection. Chickens are night blind, so they will automatically start making their way back to the coup when the sun starts to go down. Isn’t that amazing?! In the coup, they have constant food and water, so their diet it supplemented in case nature doesn’t give them everything they need to make healthy and strong eggs. Keep in mind, that in the winter months, when the temperature drops, the egg production for chickens will slow down from 5-6 eggs a week to 3-5 eggs a week. Heat lamps in the coup can help increase production during this time.
Owning chickens has been so much fun and incredibly rewarding to me. I plan on getting more once the weather warms up. I will be sure to keep you posted on any new additions. If you are thinking of having some chickens of your own, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me for information or with questions. I would love to help you!