Chickens should be fully integrated into the permaculture garden. This is because they consume pests such as small slugs and the eggs of both slugs and snails, while chicken manure is high in nitrogen and known to be antagonistic to many soil pests. Many gardeners prefer to keep bantam chickens as they can be allowed to roam freely amongst mature plants without causing damage. They are happiest when they can roost in a shady orchard, so their coop should be placed in Zone 2. Here is Ruth feeding her bantams - she told us that she prefers their smaller eggs because they have bigger yolks!
- Social, with clear pecking order, take themselves to bed when it gets dark
- Omnivorous – green leaved plants, seeds & fruits, insects & slugs
- About 200-300 eggs per year, depending on breed
- 18-22 weeks till they START laying, 4-5 years of good laying, normally break for winter when daylight hours are short
- Moult in late summer (gradual so you only notice feathers lying around)
- 5 – 10 year life span
Growing your own chicken feed:
- Comfrey (wilted)
- Nettles (dry)
- Mangle / Beet
You can also feed them leftovers:
- Excellent – Most seeds (especially sunflower), yoghurt, kale, lettuce
- Good – Non-starchy vegetables, any meat, cooked eggs
- In moderation – Starch (bread, rice, potatoes). Avoid green potato peelings.
- Avoid – Sugar, salt, avocado, citrus, dried or undercooked beans
- No – rotten or mouldy food
Diagnosing chicken ailments - many ailments can be determined just by looking at your chicken's eggs, see below and also down-load the Alltech Egg Shell Quality poster for more detailed information.