Often when I am feeling stressed and rushed in the morning, I race out to the orchard to let the chooks out, quickly feed them and check their water and then...... Uh oh! I often completely forget I'm in a hurry and spend a few minutes watching them. They are like an instant dose of relaxant!!!
We have eaten four of our chooks so far but I found it a very hard process. Home butchered chook tastes very different to the free range I was buying at the supermarket. It is actually much nicer and more flavoursome. The problem was the intense flavour made me very consciously aware that I was eating my own chooks and I struggled psychologically with enjoying my meal. The difference in flavour was a bit like a slap in the face!
|Our Bantam is four or five years old but still mothers very well|
We have tried a few different breeds of chook. I can tell you right now that if it's eggs you're after, Isa browns and some of the crossbreeds are the best. For us there is more to the equation than just finding the best egg layer. We like to have heritage chooks so that we can keep the breeds going. Commercial production of eggs has meant that chooks have been cross bred solely for their laying ability and many heritage breeds have become threatened. Some very important traits have been bred out of the cross breeds. They don't make good mothers because they won't sit long enough or look after their chickens. Their survival instincts aren't good either. They don't watch out for predators as well as many of the heritage birds do. Some of the heritage birds are hardier too.
|Our Bantam raising the Dorking chickens|
Our choice of chooks was easy. We know people who raise chooks that are suited to this area and are supposed to be good dual purpose birds (good for both meat and eggs) so we have access to their eggs. We own a bantam hen who did the sitting for us. Bantams are often good mothers.
|One of our Dorking hens|