We learnt how to build a Chicken House for free and have our almost free Chicken nesting boxes for the lovely Eggs but there is a VERY important thing to bear in mind when raising Chickens and egg laying.
Are you going to keep them for ever? What will you do if one gets ill or hurt?
The reality is that Chickens raised for Eggs will not keep on laying indefinitely. As Hens get older Chicken egg laying will slow, they start to lay less and less. Chickens will lay well for about two years and even by then you will not be getting an almost daily egg like you did when it was younger.
All Chickens are born with a preset number of Eggs. Once these are laid there won’t be any more. It will take years for them to lay them all but it becomes more and more sporadic. Part of a more Self Sufficient Life means being practical about things. The return is not there after a few years. Feed costs will outweigh the value of the Eggs.
I am not saying you HAVE to get rid of the Chicken at this point. You may decide that you will keep it for the duration, keeping Chickens as Pets rather than for the Eggs. Just bear in mind that Chickens live a long time.
How Long Do Chickens/Hens Live?
I am talking about 12 years plus in some cases. That is a long time to feed a Bird that will stop being productive after a few years. It really is surprising how long Hens live.
You also need to think about what you will do if the Bird becomes sick or injured. Going to a Vet will cost a fortune but there are few alternatives. You need to think about what you will do.
Personally, and I know it is not what everyone likes to think about, I will dispose of the Chicken in the most Humane way I can. In the past we raised Chickens for Meat. I killed them by breaking their Necks. I can honestly say it was one of the most horrible things I have ever done. The stress of ensuring it died instantly, the feel of the head coming away from the body were horrendous. I had sleepless nights and did not like it all all.
That being said, at least I know that I can put a Bird out of its misery quickly. The Birds we have now will be killed once the are no longer productive. That is just the reality of the situation. Trying to be Self Sufficient means that you need things to be as productive as possible for as little outlay as possible.
Whether it is preserving food surplus or killing animals that are no longer productive, we need to look at the realities.
If you do, or want to, raise Chickens for Eggs then think about these things. Are you prepared to kill the Bird yourself? If not then make sure you know someone who can come around quickly and do it if it is suffering. You may decide that keeping Chickens as Pets for their lifetime is what you will do but there is still the matter of illness. Ensure you know what to do.
I hated having to kill the Birds but I knew where the Meat came from. It was free range in the extreme and I know it had a happy life.
Know how to kill a Chicken in advance or know you have someone you can call on quickly. I would recommend that you have a Humane Dispatcher very handy. This will quickly and Humanely kill the chicken. It will mean you do not have to break the neck by hand and will not be as traumatic for you if you are not really the type to kill animals (as I have found out I am not). Humane Dispatchers work by breaking the Chickens neck and killing it instantly.
Remember, a Chicken can live for a very long time, so make sure you know what you will do in advance. You do not want an animal suffering because you are unsure what to do or who to call.
For a more self sufficient future