A carton of eggs from the store sits in my fridge. Are eggs you buy at the store bad? Nah. The egg is commonly called the perfect food and many farmers are working hard to produce a safe, reliable product. Eggs are one of the few foods that have all the essential amino acids. There's also carbs, vitamins, and minerals in eggs and they're pretty tasty to boot.
While store bought eggs are ok, I have an affinity for eggs I can collect from my own chickens. Thick, strong shells in browns, pale greens and white. Dark orange-yellow yolks full of nutrients and a flavor that will have you hooked! If you've ever had a farm fresh egg you know there's a BIG difference from what you buy at the store. Farm fresh eggs are higher in Omega 3's and Beta Carotene and lower in cholesterol. I will also contend that farm fresh, free range eggs are lower in harmful bacteria and parasites that can potentially thrive in the high stocking rates seen in commercial poultry operations.
So why is there a carton of regular old store bought eggs in the fridge? Because I can't get fresh eggs from the barn right now. We had almost 60 chickens when we moved to the property. Ameraucaunas, barred rocks, some production reds, buff orpingtons, miscellaneous bantams, a really cool looking flock. I forgot to close the coop door one night and the local raccoon population put a big dent in our numbers. Over the year and a half since then more coons, a couple of dogs and some hawks have decimated the chicken population. We have an incubator and hatched out a few batches of eggs but we haven't been able to get back ahead and are down to 6 birds. 4 hens and two roosters.
We had a hen hatch out eight chicks and didn't want to lose them so we moved her and the babies into the coop. Our chickens normally run free and roost in the rafters of the barn but the chicks can't get to the rafters. At night the little momma hen would find a corner of the barn with those chicks huddled up under her wings. It was only a matter of time before the babies get picked off so we moved momma and the babies to the coop.
Eight new chicks isn't enough to repopulate, especially since we don't know how many will be roosters, so it was time to call my good friend at the feed store and see if he had any chicks. Timing couldn't have been more perfect. He had a shipment of pullets (female chicks) on the way. I placed my order and the next day we picked up 10 ameraucanas and 5 black australorps.
We only have one coop so the 15 new kiddos went in with the momma hen and her eight babies. I wasn't so sure about this plan as a momma hen will peck and chase away babies that are not hers sometimes. Sure enough she started pecking but the coop is big enough that the new chicks just ran away. I went back to check that night and the new chicks were hiding in one corner while the 8 chicks were under momma's wings in another corner. I pulled momma back and put all the chicks together and set momma on top. She pecked for a second and then all the chicks huddled up and she was watching them all. Yay!
The next day I came home and momma had pecked a couple of the new chicks pretty bad so out she went. My experiment to see if she would accept them didn't work. Once they're fully feathered out we'll introduce them to one of the roosters. The roosters are the protectors and watch for hawks or other threats so we'll get them used to each other and then turn them loose! We'll keep you updated as we restock the flock!