Raising Chickens

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I do not know whether I could live without chickens. Raising chickens for their eggs is a very satisfying and wonderful experience. Some people may think they are just a silly bird, which they are, of course, but they have funny and endearing habits that will make you love the process of raising, owning and keeping them. And the nutritional superiority of truly free-range eggs has been well documented.

Birds that are free to roam and catch or scratch bugs, larvae and other little critters produce an egg with more vitamins and lower cholesterol than eggs produced commercially. And, as long as you are careful to collect those eggs as soon as they are laid, clean them and refrigerate them right away, you will have eggs that taste much better than any commercial egg you could buy.

You can also hatch your own chicks. This is not costly to do, once you have your first chickens. Sometimes the newborns can even be placed under a brooding hen and she will treat them as her own. Seeing new little chicks can be a lot of fun, and if you start by giving them a treat every day, they will soon come chirping out to greet you whenever you are outside.

Another great thing about owning your own chickens is that you can get different types of chickens that lay different colored eggs. Most of us are familiar with brown eggs from Rhode Island Reds, but have you seen the true blue eggs that bona fide Araucanas lay? Marans lay a dark brown egg that is truly spectacular as does the Penedesenca. Be careful about keeping multiple varieties without ways to keep them apart. Birds can be territorial, but you can also get them mating and discover your eggs are now mud-colored rather than white, brown or blue.

Many municipalities do not allow chickens in your back yard, but if you can, try a few. They are inexpensive to keep and will reward you in ways beyond what you might ever have expected.

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