My husband and I live on a 13+ acre property in Errington, BC. We raise alpacas, but the property came with a very large chicken house, so a friend at church gave us a pair of buff brahma bantams. Sadly, the little hen did not live long, and the rooster spent his first year on the farm alone. In the spring, we got him four ISA Brown hens for companions. They started laying a few weeks later - on June 13th, 2009, actually. I know the exact date because it was a Saturday, and I was at our local farmer's market selling yarn. My husband rushed over to tell me two important pieces of information: there were finally eggs in the hen house and one of our alpacas was giving birth. (We live really close to the market, so I was able to rush home, assist with the troubled delivery and then go right back to the market).
We purchased additional chickens to help suppliment our farming income so that our property can retain its farm property status. Right now, we have 18 ISA Brown hens (all under 1 year of age) and the aforementioned buff brahma bantam rooster, affectionately named “Dork”. Attempts to locate a proper mate for Dork have been unsuccessful: no one wants to part with any brahma hens (at least not without making us take a rooster, too). Our chickens range freely over the whole front-section of the farm. After they are let out of the hen house in the morning, they wander as they please. (We keep them in on really wet, windy or snowy days). In addition to whatever treats they find while roaming the farm, they are supplemented with 16% Layer Pellets from Top Shelf Feeds (a Vancouver Island feed company). The feed contains vitamins and minerals, but it is not medicated nor does it contain animal byproducts.
Our two slightly older hens each lay a jumbo sized egg almost every day. The rest of the laying hens give us eggs that range from large to jumbo, although a recent addition of six more hens means that we'll be getting small and medium-sized eggs again for awhile. Roma, our dog, loves the chickens because she really, really likes eggs. They’re a special treat, and she always gets any cracked or damaged eggs. She bites them open, licks up the insides and then eats the shell. She's good with the chickens that wander through her enclosure, although every now and the she attempts to get them to play with her. If she manages to get into the hen house, she noses her way into the nests and eats any uncollected eggs. (!)
I like chickens: I like their noises, their movements, their eggs, and yes, I like to eat them, too.
2010 Market Season Egg Prices: Large $4.00 / Extra-Large $4.25 / Jumbo $4.50
For more information about us and our farm, we have a great website at: www.alpacasofthecoast.com