Thursday, September 3, 2015

The First Eggs Arrived Today......Finally! 10 Reasons to Raise Your Own Chickens?

Chickens love comfrey so it has to be protected from the Chickens.

Our chicken yard and pasture!
Comfrey on the right growing in a protected area of the yard.

Hi Folks, today is a blessing in many ways. Our first eggs laid in the nesting boxes!

It may be hard for some of you to appreciate today's blog, if you have never raised your own chickens. To some of you who have never tasted a real pasture raised egg, it is orange with amazing flavor. It is so fun and exciting to find your first eggs. You go through all the trouble of getting them raised and finally your reward....eggs.  It is about the quality of your food.  Learn why you should raise your own chickens and eggs in today's blog.

Chickens Free-Ranging on fertile pasture.

Chicken Project and its rewards
It was one of our goals to raise our own organic chickens and eggs here in Tennessee. 

This property came with 4 huge old sheds with some flat pasture. I knew from day one what I wanted to do with the whole area and the 4 side by side 12 ft high farm sheds. 

We built the chickens a huge indoor structure to lock them up at night in the first shed, leading out to a covered and protected middle area, then into an adjoining hard wired outdoor yard. The floor is concrete so nothing can dig its way in. We were blessed that we had these wonderful farm sheds to work with. Since they were 12 feet high, all the areas up to the roof had to be lined with wire.

We then fenced-in a pastured area surrounding the sheds and chicken yard where they are locked in at night rich with quality weeds, clover, and grass.  The pasture area has access to the three other side by side sheds for shelter if it's hot, raining or snowy outside. 

The 3 sheds are fenced in the back so the chickens can't get out of the sheds and predators can't get in.There is water in each shed in case the hawks are hanging out. The first 5 feet at the top of the sheds have tarps hanging down so the hawks cannot swoop into the sheds after them.  We spent a lot of time and money to make it so they could live in as much safety and freedom as possible.

You have to make chicken coops with hardwire  not chicken wire. Chicken wire keeps chickens in but does not keep predators out. You must make the coop where you lock them up at night, out of wood where raccoon hands cannot reach through and tear off their heads. Raccoons leave your chickens torn apart in is horrible. You must think like a predator who can jump 6 foot fences, climb, and open latches if too simple.

Two batches of chickens later and 5 months of feed, we have our first two eggs. The eggs were even laid in the nesting boxes we built, which is not always the case.  This week the younger chickens were integrated with the older ones which is filled with worry. It went very well and now all have complete freedom to go inside or outside their enclosure. They get to eat all the grass, weeds, and bugs they want.  Organic, healthy eggs and chickens. I didn't lose one from the beginning which was great.

Why go to all that trouble? Buying them at the store is simple. 

Here are 10 good reasons why you should raise your own chickens and eggs. Why Free-Ranging them on pasture is the difference.

#1:  You know your eggs come from healthy chickens. 'Big Farm' eggs come from chickens housed in tiny cages unable to move much. Often there are dead and ill chickens in the same cage. 

Even the commercial eggs labeled free-range are not really given much pasture. That term really misrepresents how they are raised in reality. There are many thousands of chickens in each area given a small area outside. Most chickens never see the outside or pasture.  

#2: You know your chickens were fed greens, bugs, and that makes the yolks naturally more orange colored with more flavor. The taste difference between greens fed chickens and Big Farm chickens is amazing.  You won't eat store bought eggs once you have tasted farm pasture raised chickens.

#3-10: Three Different Studies confirm that Free-Range chicken eggs contain more nutrition, less fat, less cholesterol than 'Big Farm' raised chickens. It is what you feed them that makes this difference. They must have access to pasture most of the day to get these results. Chickens raised in cages eating standard chicken feed will not give these results.

Study Results Below: (see references at end of article)

"A 1999 study by Barb Gorski at Pennsylvania State University found that eggs from pastured birds had 10 percent less fat, 34 percent less cholesterol, 40 percent more vitamin A, and four times the omega-3s compared to the standard USDA data. Her study also tested pastured chicken meat, and found it to have 21 percent less fat, 30 percent less saturated fat and 50 percent more vitamin A than the USDA standard."

"• In 2003, Heather Karsten at Pennsylvania State University compared eggs from two groups of Hy-Line variety hens, with one kept in standard crowded factory farm conditions and the other on mixed grass and legume pasture. The eggs had similar levels of fat and cholesterol, but the pastured eggs had three times more omega-3s, 220 percent more vitamin E and 62 percent more vitamin A than eggs from caged hens."

"• The 2005 study MOTHER EARTH NEWS conducted of four heritage-breed pastured flocks in Kansas found that pastured eggs had roughly half the cholesterol, 50 percent more vitamin E, and three times more beta carotene."

"Our testing has found that, compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:

• 1/3 less cholesterol• 1/4 less saturated fat• 2/3 more vitamin A• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E• 7 times more beta carotene"

In an emergency, you always have eggs available to eat and chickens if needed.

Chickens are great company and very soothing to the spirit. They are worth their weight in gold to soothe a tired and weary mind and body.

Chickens eats fleas, ticks, bugs of all sorts which help keep the yard pest free.

Chickens eat left overs like tomato and lettuce trimmings.  Less waste.

Even in many cities now, regulations allow you to have several chickens but no rooster.  Call to find out about the regulations in your area. No matter where you live, you must protect them from predators, even stray house cats.

All for today. Kate Freer, the herbladyisin