I read recently in a UK newspaper that new EU regulations requiring that hens must have more space have resulted in the price of eggs increasingly dramatically and an egg shortage which could get worse.
I don‘t have a problem with eggs as I’ve got nine chickens and a confused cockerel. In the warm weather all nine ladies will lay an egg a day and through the winter I’ve been getting between 5 – 8 eggs a day. I don’t know anyone in the village where I live in Pas-de-Calais, France, who doesn’t keep chickens, even in a small garden and I’m not sure why more people in the UK don’t keep them. I know it’s been a bit trendy over recent years and more people have tried it, but actually keeping chickens is remarkably easy and if you have a garden it’s highly likely that you could have a few chickens to give you fresh eggs every day. In Belgium the Government subsidise the cost of buying a chicken to encourage every one to have a couple for fresh eggs – what a great idea.
They’re not really a lot of work – they need fresh water and food every day – a patch of grass is great but fresh grass cuttings and some veg now and again keeps them happy if not; mine also love macaroni, pasta, rice and boiled potato peelings! They need space to run about, somewhere to sleep at night and a nest box to lay their eggs in. Okay, there’s a little bit more to it than that but it’s really not difficult and a simple book will help you. The worst part of keeping chickens for me is the cleaning of the chicken coop – it really needs to be done regularly because it will make the chickens unwell if you don’t, but even so, I have a big chicken coop and it takes me less than 15 minutes to clean once a week and my compost bins are really benefitting from the nest box straw, paper lining in the coop and chicken poo waste!
We made our own coop with material from a DIY store, it took a couple of days and cost around £50.00, but there are loads of websites selling them from really gorgeous over the top faux chateau coops to plastic ones that are easy to clean.
The difference in the taste of a fresh egg to a shop bought one is immense, being able to use fresh eggs in cake making is a joy and I love being able to give surplus eggs to friends and family who are always amazed at how much better they are to eat.
My chickens have become a bit like pets to me now but in a few weeks time I’m getting some chicks that will be kept separate as we’re intending them to be for eating when they’re old enough – I’m not sure how I’ll be with that but we’re going to give it a go.A bientôt Janine