The Country Diary of a GenX Woman

Homeward Bound

2013025 006The chickens free range during the day eating grass, insects and our dreaded red-legged earth mites and duck under the horse-proof fence to head home at 4.30pm.  Locking up the birds at night gives them their best chance of survival.  I don’t understand how some keepers will leave them out all the time as they are so vulnerable.  We have “engineered” these birds to lay more, fly less and produce more meat and because they can’t fly they are easy pickings for predators. Their ancestors, the original “jungle fowl” do fly, not over great distances, but up into a tree to roost – unless they have young on the ground.  Our guinea fowl can fly which is why they live wild in the trees. We are not going to kill any of our girls when they pass their “usefulness” either.  These mature matrons will make good flock guardians keeping the other girls safe and keeping an eye out for eagles.  There has been quite a robust debate on the homesteading forums on killing birds when they stop laying as they are a waste of feed.  The discussion was sparked with the massive increase of “urban hipsters” abandoning their chickens to shelters or advertising them for sale either when they stop laying or when they find out that they take a bit of commitment to keep for the 8+ years they live for.   I can understand why a commercial egg producer would kill birds as they only have the birds for one reason.  We have them for many reasons including eggs, pest management, beauty and their individual and endearing personalities.

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Inspired by The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady