In a bid to eat organically and save money at the same time (this can be done), we bought four chickens. I thought that the first two would be enough to supply us with fresh eggs, and the next two would do the same for our neighbours. When I went up to the local poultry farm to buy the chooks, I was faced with two options. I could get a pullet, this I have learned is a chicken that is just coming in to laying for the first time. She would cost me $20. Option two was a rescue chicken. Chickens are only economically viable to poultry farmers for the first 18 months and then they get culled. This is because they stop laying quite as fast and furiously. These chooks would cost me just $2.50 each. I wanted four so it was either $80 for four or $10. It thought I’d take a punt and get the rescue ones.
I regretted it and regretted it… telling my hens every day that if they didn’t start laying very soon, they’d end up in the pot! Only one hen laid an egg most days, but the other three didn’t give me a single one. Lucky for them, we all thought they were very cute and funny pets so there was never any real threat to their lives, but then I wasn’t going to let them in on that secret!
And then about 2 months later when I’d really given up and planned on getting some new Australorps from a breeder in the Hutt, all four chooks started laying… and have done every day since! We even have enough to supply the neighbours too.
So our rescue chooks have recouperated more or less fully and their egg yolks are a bright yellow, indicating a healthy diet rich in fresh greens.
Here’s something you don’t necessarily think about if you don’t keep chooks: Eggs are very variable in size, shape, colour and taste and even texture.