Hens for Health

I’ve grown up with my fair share of strays, so I know the golden rule; don’t feed a stray or they’ll never leave. Little miss Cuckoo Cassidy is no stray, but I still don’t feed her anywhere near my porch. I know better than to allow a little poop factory to soil my weathered but clean deckboards. Squishy surprises on the feet are also unpleasant. Regardless, there she is, every morning this past week tapping on my sliding glass door. She just wants me to know that she knows I’m in here. And she would like some scrambled eggs please.

I knew from the get go how nutritious a fresh egg was, but I never expected how much enjoyment my hens bring me. I’m not telling you to go out and buy some chicks, build a coop, and learn how to care for them…wait, I kinda am! If residential codes are still condescending of poultry pets, find someone who does or can raise them.

So why raise hens for eggs when you can find them at the store? For one, conventional eggs can age anywhere from two weeks to 8 months old. That makes it hard to determine whether or not your store bought eggs still retain much of their nutrition. The older the egg is, the more time the vitamins and minerals have had to denature. The nutritional gaps between conventional (store bought), omega-3 enriched, organic, and pasture raised eggs are evident. Healthline has a great article with the visuals. Here’s a little tip, to naturally fortify your own eggs with omega 3s, feed your hens flax seed!

Beware! If you are purchasing your eggs from someone else, don’t fall prey to the label “fresh”. Fresh eggs everyone! What does fresh mean, really? It’s an ambiguous term that marketers use to convince you to buy their product. Genius but sneaky. Remember that whatever you eat, you are eating whatever it ate. Ask that farmer of “fresh” eggs what they feed their chickens and if they are stuck in a chicken run all day. Most of the time, chicken runs are too small and can foster harmful bacteria if not kept clean.

If you are doing it yourself, hens need a clean and dry coop, at least two square feet of space per bird (though free range is significantly healthier), and access to food and water. Trust me, there is nothing better than raising something that pops out your breakfast every morning. You’ll not soon forget the sound of cracking the shell and watching the golden orange yolk with surrounding gelatinous white fall into your mixing bowl. It is just beautiful!

If you need an extra push, here are some wonderful resources for beginning poultry farmers.

Websites:

Backyardchickens.com is my go to for good information. Their community forum alone has answered many a random question that I’ve had and helped me learn how to identify the sex of my chicks.

Mypetchicken.com has products as well as information on different breeds and how to raise them.

Books:

The Chicken Chick’s Guide to Backyard Chickens: Simple Steps for Healthy, Happy Hens is Amazon’s most popular pick and boasts a full five stars from several hundred reviewers.

Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens…Naturally is another popular popular amazon choice with everything you need to know.