I have been extremely fortunate to have grown up on a farm and I owe this deep gratitude to my parents, especially my mother. I love you Mom!
My mother had an affinity for her flock of chickens that carried over from the live birds in our farm yard to the walls, curtains and décor in my mother’s kitchen! She loved chickens both as her egg laying pets and as kitchen décor, and I mean serious chicken addiction!
There is not a time in my life that I can remember that we as a family did not keep chickens, my mother enjoyed all breeds of chickens, including the fancy feathered bantam breeds.
As a very young child we would go to the coop and gather eggs, take them back to the kitchen and she would instruct us each time in how to wipe them, being careful not to “wash” them, she would tell us that washing them would disrupt the special outer coating and would cause the egg to become susceptible to bacteria. We would then be instructed on how to place them in the carton properly, she would say, remember “pointed side down”, it wasn’t until years later that I asked why? She told me that there is an air sac in the egg and if left “pointed side down” and the blunt larger rounded side up, it will keep the eggs fresher, longer. The blunt larger end should always be what you see when you open your egg carton. She was absolutely right! My mother knew an amazing amount about chickens in general, so I truly had a fantastic teacher.
As an adult and later on my own farm and after more research and of course my mother’s help and suggestions I chose to raise a mixed flock of heritage breeds for several reasons,
The first and most important reason is a personal one;
I truly have a deep and conscious desire to preserve breeds of livestock that are endangered and/or threatened; they became endangered and/or threatened due to industrialized factory farms that want the same type or breed of high producing egg layers. If we lose these AMAZING heritage breeds, we risk wiping out the genetic makeup from a species, and possibly losing critical genes that could save the poultry industry one day if the high production breeds fall susceptible to illnesses such as avian bird flu and other diseases.
More reasons I keep heritage breed chickens is for their amazing ability to forage naturally which has astounding benefits in a whole system biological way of growing food the way we grow food here at orchard creek farm, without the use of chemicals. They scratch and tear up the soil surface to eat bugs, weed seeds and weeds; they are the cleaning crew, I call them “pasture vacuums” for our fields and small orchard, eating ticks and a myriad of other insects, which keeps our insect ecology in check.
Our chickens help us in our mission to decrease waste and waste entering our landfills; they accomplish this by consuming vegetable and fruit scraps and gleaning the garden after the growing season is over.
We utilize their bedding materials and manures as a valuable resource for our compost piles. We also use ALL of the egg shells crushed and mixed into our compost.
There are too many benefits to mention in this article about the important roles our heritage chickens play on our farm. I am just truly grateful to have heritage breed chickens.
The breeds I have chosen for our farm here in NE Tennessee were chosen for specific reasons, they are as follows;
These breeds were chosen for excellent forage ability and their ability to disperse heat and humidity through their large combs and wattles.
Food for thought;
Did you know a mother Hen turns her eggs more than 50 times a day? Chickens are truly AMAZING!