How to raise hens while respecting them ?
Amongst all farm animals, chickens probably are the easiest to take care of. Although, whatever the animal, it is never easy to take care of them while respecting their life and health.
Let’s start with the basics!
Isa Brown, Rhode Island Red or Australorp, there is a wide choice of hens breed to accommodate your needs. The upkeep of those little creatures doesn’t differ much between breeds and is quite accommodating. You also help save a few breeds that have fallen into disuse, considered not very productive from big industry standards. These farm’s and rustic’s hen get along very well. We’d advise you to adopt at least 2 hens. What for? Hens aren’t predators –unlike their dinosaur ancestors they’re not cut out for adventure and danger. Having a companion is way less stressful than facing the world alone from their fifty centimeters. Contrary to common held beliefs, a rooster is not needed for hens to lay eggs. Our gallinaceous friends already lay eggs on their own quite frequently when they are not subdued to the law of reproduction.
Once your choice is made, you will of course need a henhouse, a comfort they very well deserve.
Home sweet home! What’s better than a haven after a long day pecking worms? These ladies are just like us, they appreciate their comfort and it is essential to their health, well-being and lay-egging.
Reorganized old barn or new construction, assure yourself that it is a dry environment for our feathered friends. It is quite important. The structure can be wood, cement, stone or bricks (be creative, they’ll probably love that!). Roof-wise, preferably something tilted so the water doesn’t stagnate up there. Sheets of metal are not recommended, they aren’t weather-proofing enough. For the ground, favor concrete, it is easier to easier to clean and disinfect. Each hen need at least 0,5m² inside the henhouse.
Let’s not forget about their nests! Although they don’t sleep in, you must keep them clean. Put them out of sight and light or you’ll probably won’t find any egg. For their sleep quarters, a perch at about 1,20m from the ground should do.
Of course, you’ll need a feeder and a waterer, the latter will be placed outside to avoid humidity inside the henhouse.
The exterior remains to be seen. Obviously, it is inconceivable to lock them up in the henhouse their whole life, that would be as evil as the big industries that don’t respect the animal well-being and promote animal cruelty. To avoid this, you’ll need about 10m² of grassy land surrounded by a fence to avoid runaway hens or impromptu predator visits. You can also create a few “safe spot” for the hen in case of rain.
To finish, we will talk about their diet. The traditional one consist of giving them cereal (wheat, barley and corn) but it is essential for them to find complementary food such as herbs, insects and worms on their yards and from time to time give them vitamins and trace element. You can also give your little friends some of your leftovers, they will love those and find a lot of nutriments! Be wise while doing so, they are not your garbage bin. Favor vegetables, fish and egg shell (yes, they love those).