Raising Stately Hens

LaceWyandotte_edited-1Raising stately laying hens is great for the soul and is a
clever way to add healthy proteins to your diet.
For most, the majority of the effort involved in raising chickens winds up to be well worth the
effort. Raising laying hens is like having a gift that keeps on giving. The health benefits of
eating fresh eggs are many. Pretty much laying hens are low maintenance. All they require is a
safe place to live, a box to call their nest, food and water. People frequently inquire how will you
have any eggs without a rooster. Just to clarify, you only need a rooster if you want fertilized
eggs. Just as female human beings create an egg once a month, chickens will create an egg
about once a day. Females do not require male involvement to produce their monthly “egg”,
neither do hens require a rooster to produce their daily egg. A rooster is required if you want
your chickens to lay fertilized eggs that will hatch. So, only if you want your hens to sit on their
eggs so that some will hatch into chicks, that’s when you will need a rooster.
The mating ritual between rooster and hens is a daily event. It might seem vicious when you
observe it in the making. Mr. Rooster grabs her by the back of the neck, stands on her back
and squirts an atomizer­like mist of “sperm” near her tail feathers. With one last peck to remind
her of his dominance, he’s off like a flash to chase after another hen. A common question is:
“can you eat a fertilized egg and does it taste any different?” Yes you can and no it doesn’t. If
eggs are collected daily and refrigerated the embryo action is halted and the fertilization process
cannot be noticed or is negligible. The reason we prefer to only raise laying hens is to avoid the
noise a rooster will make. Roosters will crow at dawn and often throughout the day. Your
neighbors may not be as enthusiastic as you are to have a rooster next door, unless you are
giving them free eggs!
Raising chicks can be a pleasure. Kids love them and it can be so much fun to watch their
growth. Hens make great family pets. The downside is you have to clean the coop to prevent
mites, fleas and insect infestations. What you clean out of the coop can be composted and is
great for the garden. The cheapest coop bedding is free coop bedding! The best free bedding is
what you collect in the bag of your mulching lawn mower. Second best free bedding is what you
collect in your home office paper shredder. Store bought pine shavings, naturally, works too,
Either makes great bedding, and again, monthly coop clean­outs makes for good organic matter
to add to your garden compost pile!
The Best Chickens to raise? That’s a matter of opinion. I like the American Speckled Sussex
and the Silver Laced Wyandotte pictured here

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