I was a town girl, growing up in central Iowa, who never dreamed that I would some day be the PROUD owner of 25 chickens. I absolutely love them dearly but there are a few things that I wish I had known about chickens.
1. Chickens are not that friendly
For some reason I had this romantic idea that all of my hens would adore me. That turned out to be partially true because I have several hens that fight over my lap during my visits. However, the majority do not come near me. How could this be? I have spent a tremendous amount of time with them but due to the sheer number of hens I have it was impossible to keep them all friendly.
2. You need a strong stomach
On one of my worst (and I mean worst) mornings… I found my favorite of my two roosters had died in his sleep during the night. Nothing appeared to be wrong with him (no fights). It was heartbreaking for me, as he was the only chicken I had named. Eagle Eye. It was just something we called him one night when he was a chick that stuck. Even as I type this I still tear up over my little guy. Also, pecking order is a real thing. I have one Black Astrolorp that was picked and plucked so badly I thought her little butt would never heal up. I separated her immediately and she healed up just fine in a few weeks.
3. You don’t need that many
We ordered our chickens online from a hatchery in central Iowa. Their minimum order was 25 chickens so we picked out hens in six different breeds and ordered one rooster. Four of each kind of hen and then we got a bonus rooster (explained above). That was WAY too many hens. On good days last fall when we had more light and nice weather I was averaging almost 20 eggs per day. That might not seem like a lot but after three days = 60 eggs. It adds up very quickly! If I had to start over I would have ordered maybe six to ten hens.
4. Roosters can be dangerous
After Eagle Eye died we were stuck with Big Boy and he is the meanest rooster ever. It started harmlessly enough but has now escalated quickly. I like the fact that he is very protective of his girls but I can’t enter the coop without being attacked. I have read every article online as to what to do about this, but I’m not sure that it can be fixed. He has also been riding my girls too often and they are loosing feathers because of it.
5. They get bored
Over the winter I had some bored chickens. I had read about boredom busters but didn’t realize how important toys and distractions really are until it was too late. I have a picking/feather pulling problem that I think is related to boredom. They have amazing diets and have supplemental oyster shells so I do not believe their feather picking is due to lack of protein. It’s important to keep your chickens entertained! Especially during the dark dreary winter months. I plan to try free-range my chickens more often when I am home and pray that it will break their bad habits.
Despite all of the things I did not know, I LOVE my girls. They all run to greet me and are always entertaining to watch. I had no idea how much I would get sucked in to their little society. I care about each one of them individually. They are one of the highlights of each day out here on the farm. I AM a proud owner of 25 chickens but wish I would have been a little more prepared!
XOXO – The Chicken Lady
My sweet girls when they were only a few days old.
I just can’t believe they were ever that little!