This is another in a series of posts about what we are, or are on our way to being, Self Sufficient In ...
Saturday evening after tea we went to pick up four new birds to add to our now slightly diminished chicken flock. With this year's natural deaths we were down to just sixteen birds, one cockerel, Jack and his fifteen wives, a couple of which are now barely laying due to their age.
We don't cull our birds when they have stopped laying at the moment. but we have discussed this long and hard and from now on most of the birds we buy will be dual purpose to give Lovely Hubby a few chickens a year as home reared meat.
With this in mind we set out to purchase four Light Sussex hens which are large dual purpose hens exactly as we need.
(both these photos are from Google Images, I will photograph ours soon)
But then I got tempted by the Calder Rangers ... aren't they just a glorious colour, so we got two of each.
We are just in the process of setting up a schedule of buying four birds, once or twice a year to bring fresh laying capability into the flock and ease out the sparser laying older girls. I have to grit my teeth and go along with this as it makes much more financial sense and will seem a bit easier to me than rearing a whole flock of birds separately that will all go to meat after a few months. We also do not currently have the space to keep two flocks on the go at once as they couldn't live together, birds being bred purely for meat are on different food to those that are egg layers.
I sat and worked out our entire chicken keeping journey in financial terms the other day to see for myself how 'self-sufficient' we actually are in eggs, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that including our purchases of the five hen houses we have had over our lifetime of chicken keeping, adding back in the proceeds from the sale of two of them, the cost of the birds, the food, the vet bills for Daisy and all the other paraphernalia involved in hen keeping we come out nicely in the black .... just!! It helped to balance the figures when we had our large flock of rescued free-rangers, and sold masses of eggs to regular customers at Lovely Hubby's workplace and also at the Farmers Markets we had monthly stalls at and the regular car boot sales in between markets.
Now we sell a lot fewer eggs but there was enough in the chicken kitty to buy the new girls and pay for feed for the next couple of months ... and of course there are eggs here still waiting to be sold.
So I can hand on heart say we are Self sufficient in eggs ... and one day, hopefully we will be self sufficient in chicken meat*.
* Chicken meat will be supplemented by Lovely Hubby culling the rabbits on our hillside ... it's supposed to taste pretty similar, or so I've been reliably informed by the man himself, so he will use this in lots more of the dishes he currently uses chicken in.