Enjoy Fresh Essex Organic Eggs Every Morning
If you’re looking to live more sustainably, then consider keeping chickens. Learn how to look after them and receive quality free-range eggs as a reward for your efforts.
Organic food consumption is on the rise again, and demand is at its highest for more than a decade according to major supermarkets and retailers. Organic food sales have increased by 15% in Tesco stores and 16% in Ocado home deliveries over the past twelve months, whilst the Soil Association has revealed that the national organic food market has topped £2 billion for the first time. As knowledge grows in what it means to consume fresh, nutritious organic food, there is also an interest in sustainable living with more people opting to grow their own fruit and vegetables at home.
But why stop there? By keeping your own chickens, you’ll also be able to enjoy a wide variety of nutrients from free range eggs created in your very own backyard. Such eggs are known to include more than seven times the Vitamin A and beta carotene content of typical battery-farmed eggs, while having over double the amount of Vitamin E.
If you’d like to reap these benefits, among with many others associated with raising your own chickens, then here are some top tips to get you started.
Depending on your space and preference, you’ll need to make a decision on how to house your hens. If you’d like them to be free-range during the day and allowed to roam free, then you’ll likely want them to return to a coop at night for their own safety away from predators. Alternatively, they can be very happy living in a run, so long as it is not overcrowded. There are a range of hen houses and runs available, in mostly wood or plastic varieties. You’ll need wood shavings as bedding and some sturdy Suregreen chicken wire to keep everyone safe!
Hens require approximately 1kg of food per week in order to thrive and produce an ample supply of eggs. If you try to restrict their food quantity, then you can expect this production to fall. Quality layers pellets or mash should be available at all times and it’s unlikely that your chickens will overeat this type of food. This can then be mixed with corn or wheat during the winter when extra calories are required to compensate for the colder weather.
Cleaning The Coop
It’s important that you maintain a certain level of cleanliness for your chickens to help prevent infestation and disease. The coop, henhouse or run should be thoroughly cleaned every three months, but please be aware that general household cleaners and bleach are not suitable for use. Instead find a specialist poultry cleaner which will eradicate organic matter including red mite.
As with other pets that you are responsible for, you should register with a vet and get your hens vaccinated against typical poultry diseases. Ask your vet for specific advice, but generally speaking they should be wormed and have flea or lice powder applied regularly.
You’ll no doubt be aware of the phrase ‘pecking order’ and when you’re keeping hens you’ll get to see this social behaviour in action. Make sure that you keep track of any pecking marks that draw blood or if any of the chickens appear lethargic and are being bullied away from the food. You may need to remove the victims and give individual attention until they are thriving once again.
Keeping chickens is much easier than you might think, and the rewards are far-reaching. Not only do you get access to highly nutritious eggs, you’ll also enjoy the therapeutic activity of caring for these interesting birds.