The chicken debate continues (as does the goat debate, the duck debate – at least we seem to be resolved to limit ourselves to two new animals this month – Rajmund is going up to Ojców and on the way home he’s going to the big rescue centre in Krakow to see if he can find a cat and a dog to add to our little family).
How many chickens do two people need?
Full-sized chickens lay full-sized eggs. Bantam breeds lay proportionately smaller eggs.
There are only two of us, but John is re-discovering the art of home-baking (latest triumph, egg custard tart), smoked salmon is fairly cheap for an egg/salmon scramble or omelette, and now that John is making sausage patties, sausage and egg breakfasts and lunches are back on the menu so…
Prolific layers can lay up to 300 eggs a year. Given our long winter, we’d expect ours to lay perhaps 200. 200 eggs over nine months is five-six eggs a week. Rajmund and I do like our sausage and eggs, etc, so we need at least 10 eggs for breakfast/lunch. Cakes take up to 4 eggs, and we both like John’s cakes so we go through one in a couple of days. Say another dozen. Custard and things – say half a dozen. That’s getting on for 2½ dozen a week – and that’s about the number we buy or barter every week now.
A Leghorn-type bird will lay between 280 and 320 eggs a year
At this point, barter is the way to go – we trade tool loans, chutney, the occasional lift and baked goods for gołąbki, pulpety, eggs, cow-fresh milk every morning and the loan of a chainsaw. AKA neighbourliness.
Back to our chicken quandary. If we go for quantity (quality assumed!) we need five chickens to keep us in fresh eggs for nine months of the year. More specialist chicken breeds do not match this sort of numbers, so maybe we need more.
What’s a specialist chicken?
In this case, we fancy fancy eggs. Fancy, how? We hear you ask. Well, we all know that supermarket eggs come in two colours – pale-ish brown and sort-of white. If we wanted pale-ish and sort-of, we’d go to Tesco – we want chocolate brown, green and blue eggs!
WTF? You are probably too polite to ask. There are some breeds of chicken which produce eggs in those three colours. Araucana will lay green or blue eggs, while Marans will lay chocolate brown ones.
Araucana – quite the beauty – lays blue-green eggs
So, what do you think? Two of each? Two leghorn-types for high numbers and two each of Marans and Araucana for green-blue and chocolate brown eggs.
Marans, for chocolate eggs
No, no, no not THOSE chocolate eggs
We will need to get a chicken house and run, as we need to keep the chickens confined until we get the garden fences up to scratch (they’re very photogenic, but the cats could knock them over!) and we need to address the weather issues of protection from the sun (so, shade) and from the long cold winter. We’re thinking of a mobile house/run combo we can move around to give the chickens fresh grass/ground and having decent insulation plus a low-wattage heat source for the winter.
Sounds like another job for Maciek – who’ll gladly turn his hands to anything – and Rajmund – the brains and (don’t tell R this) the brawn!
When we get further with this project, we’ll let you know.
Next update, though – we hope – will be a new cat and a new dog to share our home.