I have just spent a lovely few days in Wales with my sister Suzanne and my baby girl, Savanna.  Suzanne’s friend Jenna joined us for a couple of days which was great fun.  Jenna arrived with a  home cooked vegetarian meal, a trial run of her delicious Christmas orange cookies and a bag of eggs from her very own chickens!

Jenna's chickens!

Jenna’s chickens- Bunty and Elvis!

Jenna has three chickens of her own, one is very old but the other two lay 3 eggs per day between them.  How fabulous! The chickens have a pen 3 metres by 3 metres with a roosting area and tree branches to climb on.  They are corn fed and low maintenance, Jenna has to feed them daily and change straw fortnightly.   According to Jenna they are not hard work, and the rewards are many but mostly they are a lot of fun!

According to the Guardian, the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association estimates that “there are now about half a million chicken-keepers in the UK”.  Jane Howorth, founder of the British Hen Welfare Trust, which helps to rehome battery hens,  also says that “the charity has seen a massive increase in interest, with a rise from 5,000 annual re-homings when it launched in 2005, up to 60,000 today”.

Interestingly there is scientific evidence that free-range eggs contain higher amounts of folic acid and Vitamin B12 and Vitamin A than battery eggs.   They also taste amazing with a much brighter, richer golden yolk than eggs from supermarkets.  Savanna and I certainly enjoyed our fried egg on toast for breakfast and were disappointed to return home to our supermarket eggs.

From reading around it seems that it is a fallacy that chickens actually make you money but unlike most pets they will  pay their own way.  The ongoing costs include straw, corn and possibly veterinary fees, should your birds suffer any of the multiple ailments listed in the chicken-keeping manuals.   Then obviously there are the start up costs of purchasing the chickens themselves and the chicken coop.  I guess you could sell the eggs but Jenna seems to get enjoyment out of sharing them with family and friends which must be very satisfying and good for the soul.

In the UK alone, we consume over 29 million eggs every day! If every household had just two chickens for eggs you can just imagine how this would reduce the cruel battery egg farming industry, giving chickens a much higher quality of life with guaranteed better poultry welfare standards.

Delicious!

Delicious!

My research has also convinced me that chickens can reduce your carbon footprint.  How you say?  Straw bedding can be used to make good quality fertiliser, chickens can eat food scraps (apart from meat) from your kitchen reducing waste going into landfill, plus you do not have to ship from other parts of the country to feed your family.  You can also let the chickens roam garden beds to eat weeds and insect pests, scratching over the soil. This is best done at the end of the season to protect  your precious seedlings but contributes to a healthy ecosystem within your garden.

Ok so I have convinced myself! Dave and I have always fancied ourselves as Tom and Barbara Good so maybe this is a step in the right self sufficiency direction.  With our second child on the way I also think that getting the children involved would not only be fun but also unknowingly educational, teaching them where eggs and meat come from, and what goes into producing them.

Thank you to Miss Jenna Fairhurst for introducing us to the delights of keeping chickens!

Mmmm think of all the meringues, Spanish omelettes, baking,  home made mayonaise!

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I've worked as an Occupational Therapist for many years dealing with physical and mental health patients, both in hospitals and the community. Living a healthy, well balanced life with a good diet, regular exercise and a taking a positive outlook are crucial to becoming a very well being indeed - sometimes easier said than done!

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