Chicken and Guinea blog. Breeding and selling guineas and chickens on 25 acres in western Pennsylvania. Solutions for common chicken dilemmas from a family run farm. Backyard chickens and how to care for them cheaply.
I recently stumbled upon some links to a commercial egg facilities 'inside' pictures and entered into a heated discussion on treatment of animals. On one side we had the activists so inflamed about that particular treatment that they're calling for a boycott of all egg production and consumption. On the other side is me. Just me and my belief's that while what they say is common practice in egg production is disturbing, owning chickens and consuming their eggs is a completely humane practice. There was also a minority of participants that I'll call the naysayers. They either didn't believe or didn't want to believe this was the truth about egg production farms. Now I will mention that we're talking about keeping chickens for eggs, which is what the majority of home based chicken owners do anyway. I'm not getting into meat here, the discussion was only about eggs.
The main part of the discussion centered on humane treatment of the animals. Simply put things like debeaking, several chickens in 1 cage and filth under the cages are quite common in egg producing facilities. The animals don't get health care, so the sick ones just die or are culled to make room for the healthy ones. The quality of feed is sometimes questionable and the noise and smell can be unbearable. I'm not disagreeing with any of this! (I'm also not saying it's every single facility!) I'm simply saying that while those techniques are absolutely horrible....for every home that keeps backyard chickens, that's less eggs that are being purchased at the store. Less eggs being purchased at the store tips the balance of supply and demand. Less demand drives down the price which is turn makes it a less profitable business and then we get a beautiful little statistic like this: Today, there are approximately 175 egg producing companies with flocks
of 75,000 hens or more. These companies represent about 99 percent of
all the hens in the United States.** In 1994, there were around 350
companies with flocks of 75,000 hens or more.3 (Taken from the American Egg Board website on 3/05/2014) Do you see what's happened here? As the popularity of backyard chickens and homesteading has risen in the last 20 years the number of egg producing companies has dropped by 1/2! Why are these 'activists' calling for us to quit raising our own chickens for eggs when it's doing so much good? This doesn't make sense to me.
Well, It's almost back to normal here since the big CPU fan crash. It's funny how ever though I have a laptop and Ipad...when my desktop computer went down, it killed my productivity for weeks. *sigh* I did take the time to do a lot of video making and those will be uploaded and posted in the next few weeks. Bear with me, I will get it all done! For now though, I give you this weeks top Instagram photo.
The chickens that spent the winter in the guinea house have been laying their eggs in the corner, behind the 'privacy board' I put up for the guineas. They ignore the nest boxes *sigh* I have 3 new pullets to add to the crew when the weather breaks. Hopefully they'll figure out the nest box thing!
This week I'm surrounded by snow and dreaming of "warm weather", so I decided to bring you the Green Thumb
Thursday blog hop! This link-up is hosted by The Homestead Bloggers network, & Feathers In The Woods and supported by several other HBN members pages. This hop is the place to link
up all your gardening related posts! Share anything and everything
gardening related....planting, harvesting, seeds, plant varieties,
tools, techniques, cooking with the harvest....etc etc!
I don't really have much of a post to contribute, but I do have my chickens "thinking Spring" today with the big tray of fodder I gave to them this morning! Remember though, if it's this freezing cold where you are (its 1 degree here)
set the fodder mat on paper towels for a minute to blot up the water
before giving it to the chickens. If you throw it out to them soaking
wet, it'll freeze to the ground within seconds. I learned that one that hard way last
As you can see, I have upgraded my fodder trays from disposable baking pans to plastic shoe box totes. It works the same as my original Fodder system but since I decided to grow fodder every year, I picked these up at the Dollar Tree for more permanent trays. They stack together when not in use, and rinse clean easily. These definitely make a better long term system.
Have you ever wondered exactly how much it costs to raise chickens? Not just a few chickens either, I'm talking a LOT of chickens. Like, say....80! Since I'm done doing my business taxes for the year I happen to have all these numbers handy. Some may surprise you, others may not. For example my bedding cost was much lower then I had thought it would be. Chicken feed was higher *sigh*. We didn't have any big expenses like new coops or incubators this year so this is a good example of a 'normal' year. I can't say for sure exactly how many chickens and guineas we had though, but the number always hovers somewhere near 80. So this is the summary of my poultry care expenses of 1 full year.
This picture shows the cost for feed and bedding. Now granted, I spent $137.91 of my
feed costs on chick feed. I hatched around 600 chicks and not all of
them left right away. I had to feed them while they were here, and that
bill was much higher then I'd like it to be. This doesn't include the free bags of lettuce from a local restaurant, or countless loaves of stale bread and mushy fruit that neighbors gave us. It also leaves out kitchen scraps, what I gave them from the garden and the corn patch they decimated when they found a hole in the garden fence. Bad silkies!