Saturday, 26 February 2011

The business of chickens


There I have gone and done it bought myself an egg incubator so I can rear my own chicks. And in that one sentence I have created more angst and pain for my family than in any other single thing I have ever done.
For from now on the chickens are a serious business. Gone is the haphazard way of looking after them now it’s down to science and technology and with it my input has to increase. I am not sure I have done the right thing at all. Going from hobby to business is a big step especially when the hobby wasn’t exactly a full on kind of thing.
My way of looking after the Rookyard Flock has been live and let live to a large degree. I don’t fuss my hens in fact I don’t really look after them at all. I give them shelter and a bit of grain and access to water when it freezes otherwise the hens look after themselves.
I do get a bit panicky in the spring when the chicks start to hatch and I am always on the hunt for them from March through to October rescuing abandoned chicks and raising them sort of under a convenient broody or else finding their own mother and capturing her and putting her in a makeshift pen so as I can at least keep some chicks alive for the following season.
I climb up barns, scurry under perilouis log piles and other bits of farmyard detritus in my quest to rescue these peeping monsters and by and large it works. But I have never gone out to raise my own and bring them on so to speak. Up until now there has always been a broody.
But we have found that chickens are expensive beasts and now that a hen at point of lay can reach the dizzying heights of £20 – 25 per bird for a purebred I have decided the chooks need to start earning their keep and I need to start selling these chickens and their eggs. So life has to get a bit more organised in order for me to do this and I have to look at the type of hens that people want to buy. I have a very funny feeling it is not the hens I have so I will have to buy in hens and eggs to fulfil my customers’ wants, needs and desires.
Everything will have to look more professional and all the hens will have to pass muster. I have images of row upon serried row of identical hens standing to attention with a large fussy cockerel crowing out orders in front of them and it fills me with a kind of dread. 
I've never been that organised!



10 comments:

mrsnesbitt said...

Wow! Admiration coming your way dear! Will be following this! Anyway I can help - just give me a shout!

Iota said...

My initial reaction to this was that you won't have to see ALL that many eggs to recoup 20 pounds. Of course there are other costs, but if the big expense is the outLAY on the hen (ha ha), then that doesn't seem so huge Unless eggs are much cheaper in the UK than the US.

Can you tell me exactly what broody means? I've never known. They don't use the word over here in relation to women feeling maternal, so the few times I've used it in that context and been met with puzzlement, I've explained saying "it's to do with hens". I'd love to know what the technical meaning is.

Abi said...

If it's any help, we're in Bedfordshire and our hens are Dorking Reds - we paid £25 each for them. They were also selling Lohmans for £7 each and Bluebells for £12.

Posie said...

Wow good for you. We used to sell our hens eggs, and sometimes there would be loads, and other times the basket would be empty and not a layer to be had.Looking forward to following how you get on.

Tattie Weasle said...

mrsnesbitt - seriously thinking that I am potty on this but I seem to breed good hens so why not try it!
Iota - will be breeding hens as eggs are cheap-ish about £3.60 per dozen for organic free range eggs. While hens can be sold for upwards of £20 a bird after about four to six months and as I have plenty of space... ooohhh I've written a big speil now about broody hens so will put it up as a post later in the weeek!
Abi - £25!!!!!!!think I had better switch from Indian Game and Silver Grey Dorkings...

Tattie Weasle said...

Posie - I really do think I have bitten off more than I can chew but nothing ventured nothing gained!

Zoë said...

What will you do with all the Cockerels?

Thinking about this was the one thing that put me off hatching eggs as you have a 50:50 chance of ending up with males, and they dont sell so well.

I get my first batch of hens next week. I had wanted Light Sussexes, but decided instead to give a home to 6 battery hens instead.

Good Luck with your venture!

Zoë x

Tattie Weasle said...

Zoe - does it sound awful if I tell you we eat them? I started off the year before last with 20 eggs which I stuffed under a broody and we got 8 Fat Boys (chickens for the table) I kept Iggy Pop an Indian Game cockerel and two indian games hens along with a Hubbard hen called Mrs Hubbard and a Silver Grey Dorking cockerel and from there last year I had 34 further Fat boys which we culled and 8 Indian Game Hens which I am now using for breeding along with one more Indian Game Cockerel...I have high hopes for a lot of chickens this year and for never having to buy a chicken again to eat. It has been an interesting year tio say the least as having cockerles means you do have to learn to kill...

Miss Sadie said...

Taking on the care of living things is always a challenge. I wish you well in your endeavour.

I just hope there aren't too many non-Tattie Weasels around!

Tattie Weasle said...

Miss Sadie - You are so right weasels can be very naughty!!!

Go on you know you want to...

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin