Monday, 13 April 2015

Episode Thirty Seven: Get Chickens

Hello again Team! 

There have been a lot of ideas I've shared that are pretty easy to do and use things you may have lying around the house. This one, not so much. This one take a little more effort and frankly, it's not for everyone. Either way, this weeks idea is get chickens.

First things first: Most councils within New Zealand have bylaws surrounding keeping chickens in suburban areas (the majority of them do not allow for roosters within town) so make sure you're aware of what you're allowed and not allowed to do. There can be some pretty stringent rules around how far away from dwellings and fences the chickens are allowed to be. Don't get caught out.

Once you've got that bit of homework done, the fun times begin. For us that meant building a chicken house and a pen for them to be kept within. There are a lot of differing opinions on how much room chickens actually need - not much room if you talk to battery hen farmers. However, we've opted for around 10m2 for five chickens. They seem pretty happy with that.

Chicken houses differ and companies like Farmlands sell pre-made ones which can be quite cool. I've made my own using forklift pallets I've found behind various shops around town. The cool thing about building your own is that you can make tweaks and changes - trust me, there will be a few variations needed as chickens are quite particular about where they lay and roost.

From there it's a case of finding chickens to buy. TradeMe is your friend. We got all sorts of advice around what sort of breed we should be looking for and in the end opted for Brown Shavers. They are pretty hearty and lay quite consistently. There is a great online resource called 'Chickens By Design' that has some good info around breeds and how to choose your chickens. 

For our children it's been a great excercise in seeing food being brought to the table from their back yard. We feed our chickens our various table scraps and compostables and in turn they provide us with five eggs a day. Our kids are pretty stoked to go out every day, feed them and collect the eggs. It's the same theory as gardening and bringing your veggies to your plate - just with less fuss.

I've also learnt a lot about chickens myself. I didn't realise how curious they are. If I'm working in their pen making adjustments or even in the backyard near them, they love to gather around and get involved. They can be quite smart too!

Anyways, this idea may not be for anyone but I guess this is my way of sharing the fact that we've got chickens and they are super low fuss, fun for our children and we haven't had to buy eggs since getting them. If you've been toying with the idea of chickens in your backyard, do it. Trust me, it's great fun. It's nice to have spare eggs to give away and incredibly easy to entice people to feed them while you're away on holiday (they just collect their eggs as payment as they go!).

Have fun!

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