Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chooks and eggs

We have now had chickens for exactly two months. I never thought that five woodland birds in various shades of rust would give us such pleasure or amusement. They have been good hens and started laying on the 1st of September. Most days they each lay an egg. Chickens have a 25 hour cycle when it comes to laying. So every month there is a day when we don’t get an egg from each hen. A girl's got to have a break!

All in a day's work. Small, medium,large and EXTRA large

Egg on the left is average. Egg on the right is a XXX bum buster!

Frans is keeping a spread sheet (he still loves statistics and graphs!) to see when we’ll eventually break even with the costs of these birds. Our per dozen price is currently running at around $21. We should be breaking even on the 23rd of November if our calculations are on target. This is assuming we have four to five eggs each day and that no fox comes calling! How much does it cost to have chickens you ask? Well, we bought two 44 gallon drums of organic chicken feed from the previous property owner at a cost of $150 for the lot. Then add $20 per hen. So our start up costs were $250. Our first egg was treated with reverence and delight! The chicken feed should last a good year. We do notice that on the days when we’ve had to keep the chooks inside their palace that they eat a LOT more of the grain. So to keep our food costs down, we make sure they have a few hours of outside grazing and scratching each day.
Chicken Hilton

The chooks act as natural pest controllers around the fruit trees and they add their little presents wherever they wander. One chicken is dangerously close to finding herself in a pot. She is the adventurer in the brood. She constantly manages get through the electric fence. Lately she’s found her way to the front garden and takes to sitting outside our bedroom door. She’s used to being picked up and when she sees us coming to get her she squats down and does a little tail feather shake. We scoop her up, give her a pat and a scratch and flick her back over the fence to the back yard. Till the next time she escapes!

Now here is a bit of legislative craziness…..

If you are a food preparer (chef, restaurateur, caterer etc.), and you wish to use free range eggs purchased directly from a farm, you need to wash the eggs in bleach. Then, wait for it…. You have to wash your hands between handling each egg. Is this world going crazy? Wouldn’t you rather eat a fresh egg that comes from a happy chook than one that comes from a chicken that has been cooped up in a cramped small space? Even eggs labelled ‘free range’ are not that great. The rules are so confusing. What is free range? Most consumers like you and I assume if it’s ‘free range’ then the chickens are let out of their sheds and allowed to fossick in a field. Not so. Most ‘free range’ chickens never see the light of day. They are cramped into a barn at the rate of 17 chickens per square meter.

If you’re interested in finding out what is happening in the ‘free range’ chicken world, check out this link:

We take eggs for granted. My wonderful mum in law, Riet, grew up in Holland and experienced the awful food shortages of the second world war. During that time, everyone was only allowed one egg per YEAR! Imagine that! Now days, Riet enjoys an egg on toast for breakfast most days and says it’s one of the best things to be eaten. I have to agree with her. There’s nothing like a runny fluoro yellow egg on a piece of home made bread.

I am very pleased that we are enjoying our very own eggs! Lay on girls!

1 comment: