Backyard hens: From Farm Fresh Eggs to natural pest control
Some areas in Northern Virginia don’t allow for backyard hens, but the Cowgirl Gardener, Margeaux Denham, lives sustainably on a ranch sorta far out there, sooooo…. she gets the luxury of farm fresh eggs every day, if she so chooses. Here is a little bit of information about how to go about taking care of chickens in your yard and how that whole operation works.
Fresh Eggs? Yes, Please!
Have you ever had a dream about fresh eggs from your own chickens? Are you concerned about the food you eat? Are you a great home chef? Are you concerned about how far your food is traveling from “farm to table”? If you answered YES to any of those questions, then backyard chickens are for you! Building a chicken tractor for your birds is simple and a divine way to house your prized hens and keep them safe. There are tons of chicken tractor plans on the internet; these are simple to construct, there are even kits available.
If you are concerned about your neighbors complaining about the noise don’t get roosters! (It would also be wise to take your neighbors a care package of fresh eggs!) Roosters are the noisy ones, make sure your birds are sexed & only get females. If you stick to hens you will just hear clucking, and some occasional egg laying sounds. ( Don’t get me wrong, roosters are important.) Roosters do fertilize the eggs and keep away predators such as foxes, cats, dogs, hawks, and snakes. (If you decide to get a rooster, ONLY GET ONE! If there is more than one they fight! It’s no fun!)
Do the Chicken Dance
Chicken tractors are made to be maneuvered through yards and fields. These amazing birds not only lay eggs for you and your family. They also cut your grass, keep pest populations down in your yard, and also fertilize all in one pass! This is an extremely green way to deal with yard maintenance. This means no more mowing, (petrol for your mower,) pesticides or herbicide dependance.
Chickens do need plenty of fresh water, laying pellets, chicken scratch, hay in a basket for eggs & oyster shell. (The oyster shell helps the birds digest their food.) These birds also love kitchen scraps that end up in the trash, or hopefully in your compost bin. If you have pets, please make sure you have a way to keep them from attacking (& eating) your prized hens. Your best bet is a fence that is impassable for your pets. A great way to create boundaries is to use an electric fence or electric shock collar for your dogs. These devices are totally humane and will keep your birds from being devoured by your dogs.
Every few days when your grass is nice and trimmed you can move your chicken tractor to a new location in your yard. You will enjoy the benefits of your chickens and know where your eggs are coming from. There is something peaceful about keeping chickens. Their fun personalities will calm you after a trying day of work stress. You and your neighbors will enjoy fresh eggs that came strait from your backyard to your dinner plate!