Here’s how I decided to keep hens in my home… and discovered what incredible birds they are!
It was while visiting a farm in Europe that I first had the idea of keeping hens in my home. I noticed that they were pretty low-maintenance, ended up reducing the amount of food waste, contributed to the garden thanks to the lovely compost they create and serve up some delicious eggs on the breakfast table. It wasn’t long after that, that I decided to bite the bait and start enquiring about some backyard chicken for my own home. A little research later, I found out about this breed called Giriraj, it's an Indian hybrid breed that is good at egg production, and I decided to go with those. I was told to get hold of birds that weren’t too young, given that I was a first-time bird keeper, and it would be easier for me to raise healthy birds that are a little older.
It was a fateful day in March 2017 that I drove my car for two hours, with ten hens and one rooster in the back of my car. That remains one of my most memorable car drives till date: my body was stiff as I drove, and every bump on the highway had me holding my breath in fear, imagining what it would be like if the birds decided to go panic and move around inside my car.
My chickens looked beautiful; they had distinct markings, and each earned their own name. It wasn’t very easy to catch them in the beginning, but then I slowly realised that I rarely ever have to.
Image Courtesy- monticello-Shutterstock
My home has plenty of green space and undergrowth, and the chickens spend their day roaming free, finding cool spots of shade when the days are warm, and clucking with glee at the first rains when all the insects came to the surface of the ground. I love watching them and here are some reasons why I think you should be getting your own little brood as well (!):
- Chickens are really low-maintenance. You just need to give them a safe place to roost at night, make sure their coop is cleaned out once a day, and give them ample space to roam and forage for food. A daily feed of diverse grains is a great way to start connecting with them as they will come running to you as soon as they see that you have food to share! Chickens also automatically go back to their coop at the end of each day, so you do not need to chase them down and catch them to put them safe for the night.
- The food wastage in your home goes down drastically. Chickens eat everything, from stalks and peels to under-cooked rice. Everything that would otherwise just be composted away becomes food for them. They also naturally dig around the dry leaves, breaking it down and forming lovely compost for your garden.
- A chicken coop can really jazz up your garden. Who says a coop has to be a boring welded metal cage. Get creative with an upcycled container, pretty grills and natural materials. Give them spaces with shade and sunlight and make sure they have access to clean water.
- The morning alarm is actually soothing – it's much gentler than the harsh buzz of the mobile phone, and it has a really nice snooze mode! Your rooster gives you enough wake-up calls so that you will certainly not miss that morning meeting!
- You have a daily treasure hunt, one that can keep you away from your gadgets and screens. Finding a freshly laid egg gives you a rush, no matter how many times you may have found one before! Also, when you keep your hens healthy and fed with a nice, diverse menu — you will find that you will never want to eat a supermarket egg again!