My Chickens are not Pets! I grew up with my rural relatives having chickens. My grandmother would catch a chicken each week for Sunday Dinner when us 7th day locusts from the city came to visit. What a mean old Rooster she had, I remember getting spurred by him when I was about 9 years old or so. Anyway, when I got my own rural place some 20+ years ago I also started chickens. (See my BYC page for coop/run pics) The chickens provide me with eggs, meat, fertilizer, and bug patrol (Although the Guineas are better at tick/bug removal from the property) The run shares a fence with the Garden and in the fall when Im done with the harvest, I open the Run/Garden pop door and let the chickens in to clean, till, and fertilize the garden. I leave the garden pop door open all winter and into the spring till Im ready to plant seeds. Then I close them out again. I planted the Illinois everbearing Mulberry trees in the run when I first built it for free chicken food and have since added apple and persimmon trees to extend the free food season. I also plant tomatoes in a chicken proof cage cylinder which grows up into a trellis in the run and drops tomatoes to the chickens till frost. (be sure to use a indeterminate variety )I started all this in B.C. (Before Computers) and read most of the DIY magazines such as Mother Earth News, Backwoods Home, Organic Gardening, etc. Now you all have it easy with just a click of the mouse to do research, however the information overload can make it difficult to find accurate useful information for your situation.(Thats where us old curmudgeons come in) I butcher using the pithing method, which I call the brain stick, then scald, pluck, butcher, brine then freezer camp or BBQ/Dinner etc. I have an old Styrofoam Hovabator that I still incubate eggs in each year to replace losses (predators, age, and Sunday Dinners) When I hatch out eggs, I have enough to compensate for low hatch rates, normal losses and/or weak ones---I cull without qualms, as I believe its necessary to develop a strong healthy strain of livestock. When I have a Hen(s) go broody, I will slip the eggs of my choice under her. Sometimes Guinea eggs as the Guineas have a hard time raising keets in this climatemorning dew kills keets from hypothermia. Although my chickens/guineas are not pets, I do derive much amusement watching them and even have a lawn lounge chair positioned in the shade where I can enjoy a brewski and chicken antics----better then a movie at times. Who else has a Utilitarian concept of Chickens?