We’be been raising hens for about seven years now. I got inspired after watching the movie “Flipped” where the main character was taught by her dad that hens do not necessarily need roosters to lay eggs. I wanted to have an organic source of fresh eggs, and so after building a coop at the yard, I headed to the market one afternoon after work, and bought our first hen, Henny from the market. A couple of days later, my dad came over to give us a companion for Henny, Henna. At first they did not get along, and kept us awake all night with their bantering. But eventually they became best friends and were quite inseparable. In fact, a few years later, when Henny passed away, Henna followed suit shortly after. Since then, we did not have to buy our hens – dad managed to raise a few of his own and shared with us four.
We now have 2 coops – each one housing a pair. They’re all good girls, and they make me giggle with their antics every once in a while.
I am no expert, so what I wanted to share with you today are what I’ve learned from raising our hens. These are based purely from observation and personal experience:
- They lay eggs around noon or when the sun is high – and we could easily tell they’re laying eggs because they’re quite vocal and announce it. Sometimes they go to the same spot in their coop, or at times, when they’re out frolicking in the backyard, we find the eggs neatly tucked within the shrubs.
- They do not lay eggs daily. There’s a certain period when they molt (or lose their feathers) – they do not lay eggs during this time.
- There are times the hens would peck on the eggs. My dad said it indicates they are low on calcium. So what we do is we include crushed egg shells in the hens’ food.
- Speaking of food – we give them kitchen scraps like peelings from fruit and vegetables. One of the antics that our hens have been proudly showing me is whenever I give treats to our dogs, they would also line up for theirs. I’m amazed at how peaceful our animal companions are because even though my boys are so focused on getting treats, when they see that I am sending some to the hens, they wouldn’t bully them into getting the hens’ shares. The hens, though, at times try to sneak some treats off Pedro (the bulldog) who is a slower in catching them. But good old Pedro doesn’t seem to mind.
- So we send them out of their coops daily so they have an excursion around the backyard. They do not fly out nor go to the garage – it’s like they know which area they’re should stay in. One time when strong rain came out of nowhere, I rushed to let Pedro in from the yard. I realized the hens were also out because I saw them lined up outside their own coops’ doors (which closed because of the wind). They love to drink lots of water, but clearly they did not want rain on their feathers. As soon as I opened their coops’ doors, in they hopped.
- We use the hens’ poop to add on to our compost.
These four ladies have been with us for a couple of years now, and I have to admit I still couldn’t tell them apart. Do you know if chickens respond to names?
I think my hens are quite smart, and I’m glad they are quite comfortable with me, D and the boys. We are, after all, one small happy family.