Why raise chickens in your kitchen garden
5 MIN READ
Let’s Do the Chicken Dance
Over the past few years we here at Heirloom Potager have noticed a lot more people raising their own chickens. You may have seen a small flock roaming a garden in your neighborhood, stumbled across an urban farming account on social media, or have hipster friends who make their own pickles and have added chickens to their yard, and wondered why would someone want to own chickens. Some people may want fresh eggs at home, others may even like to raise their own meat, but from a gardener’s perspective, here are a few reasons we love having chickens in the yard.
Are you ready to add chickens to your garden?
Chickens are wonderful additions to the garden. Let the Heirloom Potager team design and install a garden that is good for you and your chickens, full of beneficial edible herbs, flowers, and fresh vegetables.
Closing Garden Loops
Whether trimming back unsightly foliage, removing insect pests who have indiscriminately destroyed a whole veggie patch, or kitchen trimmings from a bountiful harvest, the garden produces a lot of waste. One way environmentally conscious gardeners use to close the loops in their production is to feed their garden scraps to the chickens.
After a hard day tending to our Heirloom Potager clients’ gardens, our chickens enthusiastically greet us at the driveway to see if that day we had cleaned a lettuce bed, deadheaded marigolds, or stumbled across an unfortunate tomato hornworm or grub. As environmentally conscious gardeners, we can then add their nutrient rich manure to our compost pile and continue to close the loop in our path to sustainability.
Despite what you may have heard about the size of chickens’ brains and perceived level of intelligence in popular culture, chickens are very intelligent. Chickens can recognize and recall hundreds of faces after months of separation, they’ve displayed the ability to delay gratification, and are able to organize complex social hierarchies.
Having these social skills means chickens are fairly independent and can be left alone for extended periods of time, provided they have ample food, water, and are safe from predators. The more time you get to spend with your chickens, however, the more their individual personalities shine through. Many chicken owners even clad their chickens with diapers and allow the chickens free reign of the house, much like a dog or cat.
By far our favorite reason at Heirloom Potager to raise chickens is their nearly daily offerings of fresh eggs. Depending on the type of chicken, a hen can lay up to 250 eggs per year or about five eggs per week. Because our chickens are fed a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, and the occasional pest insect, the eggs are large, rich in color, and have a sturdy thick shell. Farm fresh eggs differ from store bought eggs because they still have their bloom. The bloom is a protective coating that the hen applies to her eggs just before they are laid that seals the shell, preventing bacteria from entering and moisture from escaping.
Due to dirty conditions in factory farming, store bought eggs are required to be cleaned, removing the bloom, thus requiring refrigeration. Farm fresh eggs can sit out at room temperature for up to two weeks, or keep refrigerated for 3 months.
If you are on the fence about taking your own flock, or new to caring for chickens, please come back for more chicken information. In this series of articles about chickens we will dive into what you need to know to successfully raise happy and healthy chickens for your family to enjoy.
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