There are so many reasons to love having laying hens on the farm. They eat an assortment of foods, one of those things being bugs especially ticks. Chickens produce manure high in nitrogen, once composted this makes for great fertilizer in the garden. Most importantly, they lay a fantastic source of protein year round. There is nothing more bountiful then the laying hen.
Our family eats A LOT of eggs. We cook almost all our meals at home and eggs for breakfast is a easy go to for us. This may be a quiche, breakfast hash or an omelet with garden veggies. My favorite thing is to cook up a huge batch of make a head breakfasts burritos, so simple and delicious. Why stop at a fast food place when all I need is a day of prep and we have homemade burritos with our farm eggs and pasture raised bacon or sausage.
We have waited a long time to finally have a basketful of eggs. We built our coop in 2019 and purchased a few older hens that fall. In spring of 2020, we purchased approximately 40 different types of chicks. If you don’t know anything about chickens, they don’t start laying right away. Depending on the breed, they may not lay until their 6 to 8 months old. For the longest time it was silly to even take the basket out as there may only be one or two eggs to collect. To some this may sound like a headache, building a coop, housing chickens for 8 months before they lay a single egg, in the meantime spending money on feed with nothing in return.
For me, it is absolutely worth the wait to have our own farm eggs. I used to purchase humanely raised eggs or organic eggs at the store and was always so confused with the labeling and became frustrated with the marketing language of it all. For example, cage free means they still live indoors and are given 1 sq per bird of space. Organic simply could mean their living conditions are the same but are fed organic feed. Free range means they can freely move all their appendages and are allowed out door space but that doesn’t necessarily mean they go outside, how long if they do and what that space is made of. Pasture raised seems like the best for the chicken as it is 108 sq ft of outdoor space of some sort of vegetation.
All the marketing that goes into selling an egg makes my head hurt and didn’t fit the picture in my head of chickens running freely about green pastures. Not only is the chicken’s best interest not always in mind, neither is the nutritional value of the egg. A study by mother earth news, comparing a standard egg to one raised in a rotational pasture living, showed an increase vitamin E, Vitamin A, Beta-carotene, Folate, Omega 3’s, less cholesterol and less saturated fat. After knowing all this, it was an easy decision to want laying hens despite the upfront costs and time. We are happy to be swimming in eggs from happy, healthy chickens and can’t wait to get into hatching our own chicks. Incubator here we come!