I have wanted to add Laying Hens to the Painted Tulip farm for years now. There are many reasons not to add chickens into my life–a lot of extra responsibility. But is it really an extra responsibility if they provide so much back? There are so many good reasons to keep chickens on the farm:
1. Chicken poop will make the soil fertile
2. Insect eaters, less need to spray and control pests
3. Scratching and Pecking to aerate soil and be little tillers.
4. Incentive to do more cover cropping to feed chickens and increase biomass of the soil.
5. Having more “pets” and entertainment on the farm.
6. Bonus= Eggs!
Last summer I was at an event where I saw a child holding and petting his barred rock chicken. Both the child and bird were very content in each others company. This memory keeps returning with increasing intensity. In January, I gave up on the sentimentality and researched in earnest. I went to McMurray Hatchery website and started looking at breeds friends had suggested. Then one night I decided: I am doing this. I got out my credit card and ordered the chicks.
These are the varieties I chose: BARRED ROCK, ARAUCANA/AMERAUCANA. BLACK AUSTRALORP, BUFF ROCK, RHODE ISLAND RED , ARAUCANA/AMERAUCANA.
I am building a chicken coop in the greenhouse that can be taken apart and reassembled in the spring. (Its still winter here in New England and pretty bad in Vermont.)
The chicks will live in open cardboard boxes in the studio until they are 8 weeks old. So they are safe from predators and get the warmth they need
I have been researching and reading about feeding the chickens with cover crop. This will create food for them and more biomass and fertility in my soil. Then the chickens can be the pre-tillers that come through and kill back the cover crop when I am wanting to plant in. My whole focus is shifting on farming, decreasing the digging of the soil and developing less expensive, more effective methods of returning nutrients back in to the soil. Suddenly I am seeing more blog posts and farms going in the no-till manner of farming. Funny how that “snowball effect” starts happening.
So these guys will be fenced in with a movable electric fence and hopefully movable coop. I am definitely worried I have bitten off more then I can chew but I am committed now so just have to move forward.
Stay tuned as they arrive in early April only a few days old.