At some time or another most of us have toyed with the idea of keeping chickens. I mean, who wouldn’t want to step out in their wellies of a morning, collecting super fresh eggs from hens that you love and adore? Well, it’s happening. Families across the country are wising up to the fact that you don’t need acres of farmland to keep happy chickens, and more and more of us are setting up runs in our suburban homes.
Leo from chickens.ie says that the recent rise in food and cooking programmes are helping this self-sustainability idea at home, to grow beyond the farms of Ireland and bring it to families at home.
“Chicken keeping has enjoyed a return to popularity in the past few years. TV programmes highlighting the appalling conditions that mass production birds are subjected to will change peoples minds and hopefully convert them.”
It seems a daunting task to bring up chickens and keep them healthy but they are amongst the easiest animals to keep. Once you set up their run you can essentially leave them to it. Just check them over every once in a while and keep the place clean and you’re done! It’s a small price to pay for your own free range eggs!
The DSPCA is also a good place to start as they have many hens looking for new homes. There is a small amount of legality you have to go through as all poultry premises (including those in your back garden) must be registered with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, primarily in case of a disease outbreak, so be sure to look into this before you bring your chickens home!
Claire O Connell lives in Stamullen in county Meath and her family keep 6 chickens in their back garden, ‘Chickens are relatively easy to keep the hardest part is trying to find where they lay eggs! If you a run out of old bits of wood (they are literally just a wooden shelter with a bit of straw in it) then that would probably be the most expensive part. The meal that they eat is about 10 euro a bag and lasts for more than a month with 6 chickens!’
So, this all sounds good, right? But, is buying our flockt going to bankrupt us? According to Leo, buying your chickens doesn’t have to cost the earth.
‘Laying hens cost from about €10 each up to €15 depending on the breed / age etc. The optimum time to buy the hens is when they are around 22 to 25 weeks old. At this stage they are just getting ready to commence laying’.
He says families looking to keep their own chickens should consider the breed depending on what they want to use them for. He recommends Hybrid Hens for those looking for high egg production.
While he agrees that very little space is required for chickens and ‘a small garden works perfectly’ they will need room to rummage! ‘Do remember they like to dig and forage so a rough piece of ground or an area of lawn covered with bark chippings They’re very inquisitive animals with real character. After a few weeks they’ll be part of the family.’
Setting up a run in the back garden is the perfect setting for your new family pet, they will give you some great food to use in the kitchen, a great place to start giving your young children some responsibility and are extremely cheap to keep, compared to most pets. What are you waiting for?!
Do you keep chickens? Tweet us your pictures at @ilovecookingire and give your chicks their moment in the sun.
Main photo credit: Wikipedia