Posted by Eytan Navah, Garden Supervisor
The spring season is a time of new life and growth. Our gardens seeds are sprouting, the trees are waking up from their dormant winter slumber, and baby chicks are hatching! This year we have decided to raise a new flock of chickens to add to the dynamics of our garden operation.
|Two day old Ameraucana chicks|
We acquired the chicks when they were one day old and they have been growing rapidly throughout the past few weeks. They all started out looking like little puffballs, with their fuzzy, down feathers. They are housed in a brooder, which is a closed-in, temporary home with wood shavings on the floor. We put a heat lamp on them in order to keep them warm until they grow all their feathers about four to six weeks later.
We have decided to raise a variety of breeds in order to create an interesting flock of colors, shapes and sizes. We have: Ameraucanas, which are a brown and black feathered bird, with a little fuzzy beard that will eventually lay blue and green eggs; Delawares, which are all white chickens that lay brown eggs; Black Sex Links, which are all black with a hint of red in their feathers and lay brown eggs; Barred Plymouth Rocks have black and white stripes and lay large brown eggs; New Hampshire Reds are a dark amber colored chicken that lay brown eggs; and Polish Crested which come in a variety of colors and have long feather growing out of the top of their heads, giving them a stylish and funny “hairdo”. My favorite is the black Polish Crested with the white flat top, that I’ve named Eagle.
The chickens will not only be providing us with fresh eggs, but they also contribute to a number of elements within our interconnected garden system. We feed the chickens a lot of our vegetable scraps, prunings, snails and slugs. In return, our chickens give us excellent manure, high in phosphorus and nitrogen, to enrich our compost. The chickens contribute to the health of our plants, bringing it all together, full circle.