This blog post is the first of a little series on keeping hens as family pets. I have had hens for over 8 years and in the process have become a bit of a hen expert. I hope that you not only enjoy reading the posts but that they make you think twice before buying another pack of caged eggs.
Are you thinking about keeping hens in your back yard?
Perhaps you’ve seen some on a smallholding and fancy having a few of your own little egg laying machines in your garden. If this sounds like you then you’re not alone. Keeping hens is becoming more and more popular with the ever growing trend to understand where our food comes from and carve out our own little slice of “the good life”.
Aside from free eggs, there are lots of other great reasons to keep hens:
- Chickens used for egg production are among the most abused of all farm animals. Keep your own and make a stand against this cruel industry
- Enjoy protein rich eggs. You will see a huge difference in the quality of your freshly laid eggs. The yolk will be a rich orange and the shells nice and hard. Most importantly, you will know exactly what has gone into them and the quality of life your hens have had. I truly believe that the stress levels commercial hens experience contributes to the poor egg condition you so often see in shop-bought packs
- Teach your kids about the cycle of life. The most common time to buy a hen is when they are at ‘point of lay’ (so a couple months old); but it is also possible to buy eggs which are fertile and hatch them yourself. You do need to have a set up ready for this and be prepared for some losses, but if you are successful it can be a wonderful way to teach your children about the cycle of life: birth right through to death
- Learn about the uniqueness and individuality of hens. Once you have had some you’ll be hooked and will start to see their individual characters, likes and dislikes. I have kept hens for over 8 years and have seen my hens under stress and behave in a ‘depressed’ manner. Yes these are human terms and we need to be careful when applying them to animal behaviour; but the point I’m trying to make is that when you keep hens they become more than just food to you. They are lovely birds with hugely inquisitive minds and love nothing more than keeping active in the search for tasty morsels and the best sun spots for a mud bath.