As the local, organic food movement continues to flourish in the U.S., more and more Americans are choosing to bring the farm to them. This is no where more exemplified than in the rising popularity of keeping chickens. Being able to have access to a continuous supply of fresh eggs is very appealing to many. Like other sustainability-geared trends, it allows you to raise your own food. Here are three things to know and remember when caring for chickens at home:
- Having Enough Space is Key for Egg Production
- Keep on Top of Nest Box Cleanliness
- Know Your Hens’ Laying Habits
Whether you have metal chicken nesting boxes or just a rollaway nest box, having an appropriate nest box in which your hens can lay is very important. Each box should be 12×12 inches in order for them to feel comfortable enough to lay their eggs. Also, maintaining a one box to 4 or 5 hen ratio allows them to feel comfortable laying there.
It’s best to keep a minimum of at least 2 inches of clean, dry shavings or straw in the nest box at all times. This will require maintenance, though, as this nesting material can quickly become a sponge for chicken manure, which is made up of 85% water. Changing the material often is the best way to avoid any issues with cleanliness.
Most hens will be done laying eggs for the day by 10 a.m. In this way, collecting eggs early is a good idea. It leaves less time for and reduces the chance of breakage and egg eating. Keep in mind also that the typical interval between eggs laid is about 25 hours. In other words, a hen that lays an egg every day will lay a bit later each day.
Remember this information as you raise your chickens and hens and dive deeper into the self-sustaining, organic lifestyle. The ability to raise your own food through a process such as raising chickens can be life changing. Being able to get fresh food at home, such as eggs from keeping chickens, allows for flexibility beyond measure.