This started out as an email to my friend, Marian, in Missouri. I thought I'd republish it here just in case anyone else wanted to hear my 2 cents worth on chickens. :)
For what it's worth, this is what I know:
Fresh eggs always taste better than store bought. The yolks are thicker and yellower and they stand up nice and round in the frying pan.
Chickens need oyster shell, and a balanced ration (make sure it has B vitamins), and greens to make really good eggs.
Chickens will stop laying for a while every single time you change something in their environment.
Chickens more than 2 summers old should go in the stew pot - slow cooker. They make an excellent flavorful broth.
If you are finding dead free range birds in the morning that are decapitated it's an owl.
Raccoons will kill hens and steal eggs.
Snakes can get through a hole less than an inch in diameter.
Weasels will kill until there are no chickens left and they leave a bloody mess.
Hawks will carry the chicken off and eat it elsewhere... you may find feathers.
Gather eggs in the afternoon around 5 pm.
Most hens lay after 10 am so gathering them early in the am just means you are getting yesterdays eggs.
In winter birds will lay fewer eggs if they are cold... they need all their energy to generate heat. We used to keep a heat lamp in their house.. This year we will house them in the unheated greenhouses.
Banty chickens are tough little birds that can fly an incredible distance - for a chicken.
Chicken tractors are a great way to allow your birds access to pasture everyday without making them targets for any critter looking for a free lunch or a midnight snack.
Little children love to gather eggs.
There you go. Everything I know about chickens in a nutshell.
Coming soon... how we build our chicken tractors.