Chicken keeping is easier than most people realize. All it takes is a small enclosed yard and a well designed chicken coop and run. Some restaurants are even discovering the benefits of keeping chickens for fresh eggs. There are numerous benefits beyond the eggs as they also gobble up kitchen scraps, eat bugs and turn it all into nitrogen-rich droppings for fertilizing plants and gardens.
Sustainable, Simple Chicken-Keeping Systems
A well-designed chicken coop with good light is key, building it with windows helps as more light can mean more eggs and healthier chickens.
Ground cover is an important factor to keeping chicken yards feeling, smelling and looking fresh and inviting to those who will be collecting for the egg-to-table action. If you are in an area near fields or open space - grass clippings and/or dry leaves can also be used. For bedding, sand or pine shavings are popular.
Part of a chicken's diet is bugs as they contain vital protein needed for egg production. Letting them outside to free range will give them access to hunt and eat their fill. Using a moveable electric fence will help keep predators out and chickens inside.
How To Choose Which Chickens To Raise
Truly sustainable chicken yards and coops are stocked with the right chickens for the situation and environment. Some chicken breeds lay much more than others. Other major factors to consider are how cold or heat hardy they are for your location and climate. Intense heat as well as cold can severely impact both egg production as well as survivability.
How friendly a breed is can also be important especially if you have kids or pets. Chickens can also have an impressive variety of feather colors & types, combs and even a range of colorful eggs, from the average light brown or white to exotic colors like greens, blues, dark browns and even pink.
For beginners, an easily available, heavy laying and friendly chicken breed can be a great first choice. Check your local craigslist listings for local breeders and availability. Chickens typically start laying around 5-7 months of age so buying pullets, or adolescent birds will help reduce the time until they lay.
It may also help you reduce the chances of purchasing a rooster which may or may not be allowed in your town. Check local bylaws if you do want a rooster. You don't need a rooster to get eggs and they are loud and some can be aggressive. They can protect the flock and there are benefits to having them but beginners should stick to hens.
Chickens For A Modern World
It has never been easier to see why raising chickens could be a great sustainable project that can be fun for a family, and/or a local sustainability-showcasing organic restaurant project.
Selling farm fresh eggs and utilizing the freshest eggs possible in your menu - this is the key to making a sustainable approach to food delivery both obvious and impacting for all. Increasing the attraction to your restaurant is a great reason to consider raising chickens on-site.