Chickens have always been a huge part of our food forest adventures. We have great memories of hatching chicks, collecting eggs, and building coops. Unfortunately, we’ve also learned some tough life lessons about losing chickens to predators and getting rid of the aggressive roosters.
Our chickens provide us with fresh eggs, they make compost at record speeds and they eat lots of bugs. They also destroy our garden beds and poop all over the place, so we try to confine them to certain areas.
On average, our chickens lay one egg a day. The fancier egg layers that lay blue and green eggs sually an egg every couple of days. During the wintertime, hens tend to lay fewer eggs because the days are shorter. Some people choose to put daylights in their coops to encourage winter production, but we don’t do this.
how we store & wash our fresh eggs
Freshly laid chicken eggs have a special coating on them that prevents air and bacteria from entering the egg. This is to protect the developing chicks (in fertilized eggs), but it also keeps the eggs from spoiling. So if you don’t wash the eggs, you don’t need to refrigerate them and can keep them on the counter for weeks.
We store ours in this hanging basket, along with any veggies from the yard.
Chickens are constantly scratching at the ground which quickly breaks down our food scraps and yard waste into nutrient-rich soil. Their waste (chicken poop) is also nitrogen-rich fertilizer that can be used in the garden.
Every year, our neighbors give us some of their fertile eggs that we hatch in an incubator. We have great memories of hatching eggs and raising the babies until they’re big enough to fiend for themselves.
The chickens also help pull weeds, eat pests, make compost and. The chickens can quickly turn a container of food scraps into rich compost and their fertilizer-rich waste is great to add to our planting beds.
We’ve had 2 different chicken coops over the years. I learned as I went and made changes as needed. The first coop worked great for a few years. We started small and built on it.
But, it was too far from the house, and predators would grab chickens during the day. We’ve lost some to raccoons, foxes, hawks, and the rest of the large critters that come out at night. Now they are in the backyard, and we haven’t had any casualties.
Our current chicken coop has a solar-powered chicken door that closes at night and opens in the morning, which is nice not having to let them in and out each day.