Breeding hens in your garden is a good way of getting your own fresh and organic eggs. They do not take a lot of space and are easy to look after. Chicken food does not cost a lot as well so there’s no reason why everyone can’t do it.
When I decided that I was going to rear chickens in my back garden, I wanted to have newly born chicks but because it was more difficult to get them and would be more difficult to look after them because they are more vulnerable, I opted to have 6-8 weeks old chickens. I didn’t want to have point-of-lay (POL) hens as they would already have been adults and I wanted to get to know them and make them accustomed to me before they start laying.
I bought two hydrids (one brown called Chestnut and another one white called Pixy) and an Orpington which is a pure breed (her name is Bluebell) on the 20th of June 2009. Chestnut and Pixy were 8 weeks old then and Bluebell only 6 weeks old. Hybrids lay more eggs in a year and that’s what they are known for. Pure breeds on the other hand lay fewer eggs in a year and start laying much later than the hybrids.
The hybrids were supposed to start laying after 16 weeks. So come the 4th of September 2009, I was disappointed that there was no eggs in the chicken coop. However today, out of the blue, I noticed a little egg looking at me. You can see the egg in the picture above along with the proud hen, Chestnut. Although 5 days later, it is such an incredible feeling to pick your first organic egg from my free range chicken (yes, I let them roam about in my garden quite often when they are not naughty, that is, when I’m sure they won’t egg the vegetables I’m growing or the flowers in my garden).
It is very rewarding to be able to experience your first fresh egg from your own garden. I just can’t describe it; you need to experience it to understand! I’m hoping the other hens will follow soon so that I no longer need to buy eggs from the supermarket again (well, that was the plan in the first place). I’m sure the taste of this organic egg will be something different, something more genuine and more rich because I’ll tell you this much, the chickens that I have are very spoilt – I give them fresh corn every now and then and buy little treats for them as well along with their daily food that they need.