Its a fact of life that chickens will only lay for a few years. They may live until they are ten but there productive life according to farmers is only 18 months – maximum, it may even be shorter than that. This even includes the free range hens eggs that some people truly believe are free range and that they roam in open fields and have enough room to allow the grass to grow and the hens have enough room that hen pecking is not a problem.
I am sure there are hens like that in small holdings, but I fear the commercially raised free range hen does not have this type of freedom.
I am no activist, I eat meat, I will if eating chicken away from home generally be eating battery farmed hens. But I can raise my own eggs, so I do.
Our hens had reached the age of six, which meant that they had almost stopped laying. One to two eggs a week is simply not enough for a family of four. The time had come, the deed was done humanely, quickly and sensitively. We kept the Auracana for two reasons, firstly she is younger than the rest, so may still lay some eggs for us next year. And secondly, she can show the young hens the ropes such as how to use the feeder, (you have to peck it and then it releases a few grains of food – it keeps them busy and active) and also how to roost, as I very much doubt these hens have learnt to do this yet.
We set off to The Domestic Fowl Trust having phoned first to check that they had the birds we were interested in. These are Rhode Rocks, which is a hybrid of a Rhode Island Red and a Barred Plymouth. They lay extremely well in excess of 300+ eggs per bird per year, they also lay well for four years.
I have enjoyed having rare and old breeds in the back garden and although generally much prettier to look at the time had come to purchase the ultimate egg laying machine. And this is as good as it gets. Four of these birds won’t be too much work, will lay through the winter which the old breeds won’t and we should generally be getting two dozen eggs a week. At the moment they are 18 weeks old, point of lay is 20 weeks, so by the end of August we should start to be in production.
Having been raised in a barn its unlikely that these hens have seen daylight.
Dunno, its quite tasty?
Yes it is rather nice.
Sunbathing, relaxed enough to do this even with a Golden Retriever in the garden.
And the Auracana showing them the ropes. She was also a bit of a bully, its the first time – ever that she has been bigger than the other hens, so took full advantage of it and made sure they knew their place. I have tried to whisper to her that the Rhode Rocks will grow, but she wasn’t listening, simply enjoying her new found status!