Since we live out in the country, we are able to let them free range during the day and lock them in their coop only at night for protection. While not everyone wants chickens walking about their lawn and driveway, it is quite amusing to see them come running when called to eat. There’s also nothing more satisfying than checking the nest box and finding the still warm eggs. In my opinion, fresh eggs from your own chickens just look and taste better than what you can get at the grocery store.
Chickens can serve a dual purpose. If you end up with too many roosters or just want to raise a dedicated meat bird, raising chickens for meat is fast and efficient. Since chickens are naturally omnivorous, in addition to grain, they will eat worms, bugs, food scraps and just about anything. Modern meat breeds like the Cornish Cross grow to size in seven to eight weeks but are often thought not to be as flavorful as the heritage breeds.
Standard breeds can be raised for broilers as well. The White and Barred Rock, Delaware, New Hampshire, Wyandottes and others such as the Freedom Ranger take a little longer to grow to full size, but are thought to taste better and be more suited to a free range or pasture situation.
If you are considering raising chickens this spring, Cornell Cooperative Extension will be holding a Chickens for Beginners workshop on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. at the local office. How to select a chicken breed, housing, feeding, health care and basic chicken husbandry for both egg and meat birds will be some of the topics covered.
For more information or to register, contact the Clinton County Extension office at 561-7450 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.