1 Year On

We Rescued Chickens

The learnings from a year with our chickens

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A Year Ago we Saved Our Chickens

I never thought I’d be writing that we’re coming up to a year from the moment we saved our Chickens from a life, literally coming to an end.

What I didn’t realise until Mrs P clearly pointed out, was the fate of our feathered (or in this case not) friends, when they no longer lay the right kind of eggs anymore. This could be down to their health, the fact they’re tricked to over produce or they’re just too old.

What I understood is that there must be an end to the lives of these egg laying, finger licken, Chickens. I’m not stupid, I didn’t image there to be a chicken heaven with all the seed they can eat, but I kinda thought they then go into our food chain.

Take a look at one of our birds when we first got her, do you think that’s fair?

 

This is the result of over producing eggs, in a battery farm, with thousands of featherless friends all clucking for survival. Tricked into producing twice a day from light manipulation, they’re just dying. Look at the poor hens, lifeless and drained of all colour. Do you want to eat eggs from a bird this poorly?

These poor ladies had to have treatments for over plucking due to stress and axiety, couldn’t eat proper food and were in need of love.

This isn’t just battery hens, free range in my head meant roaming hillsides laying little eggs and every day the adventure to collect them begins. Nah mate! Free range means a thousand birds sharing the outside space, big enough for 1000 birds. Knowing what they do to grass, I guarantee there’s no grass left 🙂

Sorry to deviate but I felt compelled to share some of the truths.

 

Thanks to Mrs P’s suggestion, quite sternly, that we are Chickens to our menagerie of animals, I reluctantly obliged to build an area where they could roam, and Mrs P to make a coop. Goodbye to our shed 🙂

A few wooden posts concreted in, yes concrete or postmix same thing, we then used chicken wire and I built a little gate with hinges and we’re in action!

The coop was the fun part. Our garden slopes some what do I had to dig down about 2 feet and use concrete blocks to create a fairly level footing for a brand new, scaffolding board, base. You see, as we were lifting the old shed over our heads, the structural integrity wasn’t what it was when new, and it was the easiest way to build something sturdy. So chopsaw to the ready, some braces and the best screws I could buy, the coop, with Mrs P’s marvellous paint job, came to life.

One note before we go on, Chickens desemate the area they live in.

Yes their poop is amazing fertilizer, but if they eat ever shoot before it grows, there’s little chance of grass appearing ever again.

Locally, there’s a chicken rescue group called Lucky Hens who in partnership with the local egg supplier, buy (I think) all the old birds from him and then reach out to the local community. You then book a place/reserve a bird doesn’t sound right, and pop down to pick your plucky chucky.

We got four initially. Cardboard boxes at the ready, cash in handle, purple spray purchased and enough wood chip to match Guy Fawkes efforts. The chickens were slim pickings in the fact they were under nourished, featherless, pecked to misery and desperate for attention. I wasn’t sure about holding one but as soon as they felt some warmth and love, it’s amazing how quickly you can associate with an animal.

 

Arriving home, releasing our birds into their new home felt empowering. Like we’ve done something amazing, given them a forever home and any eggs were a bonus. It now feels like the eggs are payment for cleaning up their sh*t and constantly removing them from the bottom of our garden after they get lost 🙂

Within the first few days, we let them out and they loved it until, the pecking order fights started.

These poor birds were sad enough yet they had to peck at each other to form an order of hierarchy. Apparently this is completely normal however it’s sad to watch and we felt like the referees in a boxer vs postman fight. They eventually quietened down and normal order was restored.

We then got greedy and bought some fancy chickens. We’d always wanted blue and green eggs and we found a breeder and purchased some young hens to add to the mix. As you can imagine the pecking order fights started, but this time there was a twist.

These new birds were quicker than me at a chinese buffet. Speeding around like roadrunner and with a jump on them Jonathan Edwards would be proud of. Who knew chickens could jump up trees! Our neighbours thought we were mental foraging around their holly tree to hook the birds back to our garden.

This was unfortunately to their detriment. Chickens in the coop were safe. Chickens in a tree, are a challenge to any mangy fox looking for it’s next kill. Add to that two Rabbits that roamed free, we had a particularly unsavourary awakening one morning. Mr Fox had killed for fun and two rabbits and a chickens were gone. Soon after another.

We’re now left with four chickens. The idea of having to kill one of our own chickens was something I had thought about. Having to put one out of it’s misery if it got injured or very ill. The thought of a fox coming into our space was something very unique and we should have really thought of this. We’ve now got a metal fence around the shed. I say fence, it’s an old baby gate/pen.

So this is the story of how four mangy birds became eight and we’re now down to four. Four that really do love and value every day outside who follow us around the garden, will be picked up and love to have a cuddle. They provide us with daily eggs and amusement and we provide them with whatever they need.

Owning chickens has given Dorothy a great introduction to the world of where food comes from. She’ll go out in the morning, check for eggs and thanks they “ladies” for that day’s contribution to our protein intake. She’ll chase them round and run when they chase her back. Beth wasn’t so keen at first, like me, but understanding our feathered friends, their individual personalities and giving them names has made it easier for all.

 

You can see for yourself what love can do, think about rescuing some chickens if you have the space and give a poor old bird the opportunity to see the sun.

Would you keep chickens? Comment below and check out a local charity here for more advice:

Lucky Hens