October 08, 2012

An EGG-ceptionally EGG-citing Idea!!!

When proposing the idea of keeping chickens to my husband, the response is generally one of stifled laughter and then a look of "huh.. that might work"...ahh the romance and security of our own fabulous chicken flock! There are so many benefits of having a flock of our very own chickens...
  • Fresh, organic multi-colored eggs...eggs from home-raised chickens are so so much better tasting that the starch white eggs in the grocery store (in my opinion);
  • Soft sound of cluck, cluck, clucking;
  • Children scattering chicken feed;
  • .....
But wait... I need to be realistic... and focused. I needed to decide what would best meet the needs of my family.
  • Two adults and three rapidly growing children.
  • Where would I keep them?
  • How will I choose them?
  • How many do I get?
  • What will I feed them?
  • How will I deal with jealous friends and family?
Somewhere in it all I know there will also be chicken poop...lots of chicken poop...glorious chicken poop! It's like magical growing solution for your garden!
Sooooooooooo, I sat down and decided that I wouldn't be tempted by the cute little peeps from soft adorable chicks.. I would instead sit down and write down all the goals for my flock. Ahhhh, who am I kidding? I bought the first pair of chickens I fell in love with at a Chicken Swap in the Tractor Supply parking lot...No, I wasn't even going there for the event....fate had me in her grasp, and I couldn't break free...so this lovely pair of Lavendar Orpingtons became mine...and ours....and we could not be happier!
THEN I sat down and generated some goals for our new and growing flock:
  • Good & steady egg production
  • A non-agressive flock
  • Pretty... yes I said it.. Pretty.
With my goals in hand I had to find out what chickens would be productive enough to meet egg consumption of a family of five. I figure we eat about 10-12 medium eggs a week. Then I narrowed it down to the breeds that work best at being good/steady producers and do well in the Virginia climate.
Here's the list I came up with...
ORPINGTON- Lo and Behold my impulse purchase proved to be a great one...as usual....when will my husband come to terms with my ever so accurate and productive whims?? They are revered for their excellent egg laying abilities and good quality meat...although we don't intend on eating our girls, it's good to be prepared in the event of a zombie apocalypse and imminent shutdown of food processing establishments....just sayin'!

PROS: 4-5 Large brown eggs a week year round! These girls got work ethic! Not prone to try to fly away. Friendly. Easily Tamed. Great mothers (inportant for the sustainment of our flock)....and PRETTY! They come in a variety of colors...

CONS: None that I can find!

AUSTRALORP- Not the Marylin Monroe of chickens, but friendly, sweet and can produce more eggs than a Duggar. Australorps are the Australian take on the Orpington breed.
PROS: 4-5 Large brown eggs a week at a steady pace. Not prone to try to fly away. Can produce eggs even into the winter. Friendly. Docile.
CONS: Not so pretty and I worry that the chicken might know I'm only using her for her eggs.

EASTER EGGER- Many hatcheries will sell Easter Egger chickens and call them different names (Ameraucana, Americana). I think maybe some believe they will sell better with a schmancier name.
PROS: 4-5 Large pastel colored eggs a week. Good natured, friendly. Not prone to try to fly. Hens come in a variety of colors and usually with a cute soft ear and chin muff of feathers.
CONS: None chicken wise.. but while they are prettier than the Australorp they sit in the seats to watch the Silver Laced Wyandotte runway show.

SILVER LACED WYANDOTTE-Most popular and in most demand for a reason. They are just plain gorgeous birds. I picked the silver laced variety but they also come in Red and blue laced and white.
PROS: 3-4 eggs medium sized eggs a week. Good natured, friendly.. but most of all.. pretty, pretty, pretty.
CONS: The other hens may resent her for being so pretty AND not producing as many eggs.

In addition to my spontaneous impulse trip to the local Tractor Supply where I ultimately and unwittingly purchased a wonderful pair to start our egg laying family, I found the following sites really helpful in making my choices:

Many hatcheries and websites that sell chickens/chicks require that you purchase at least 15-25 chicks at a time and the shipping fees are almost always $35-$50. So getting them locally is a big plus. I have found craigslist to be very helpful in identifying local sellers...I will be picking up the rest of my little flock soon...

Looking forward to this adventure...stay tuned as our fowl family flourishes!


notthedecoratorkate said...

You forgot to mention all the laughs you will get watching the chickens run! It is like watching a person run with their arms behind their back!
Did you get any? I have been asking for chickens for years. Surprisingly Josh chose getting beehives over chickens! Maybe next year XOXOXO