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CACKLE TALKS  | Guest blog Hans Krudde: Why is the chicken so hip!

Yes indeed, chickens are hip. More and more households keep a flock of chickens for fun. Keeping chickens as a hobby is no longer exclusively reserved for those who live in the countryside; there is room for a few chickens in every garden, and chickens are even kept on balconies and houseboats. Whether the latter is desirable is debatable from the point of view of animal welfare, but if it is possible for chickens to perform their natural behavior under such conditions, i.e. scratching, sand bathing, sheltering and perching, then there is nothing wrong with that.


It is estimated, because no official counts of hobby chickens are conducted, that about half a million households in our country keep chickens. And why not. To keep a few chickens you do not need a huge budget, the purchase costs are not too high, depending on the breed you can assume an amount of €8 to €25 per chicken. You can build your own coop or buy a complete one (from €200), the ongoing costs are mainly for feed and litter (€0.20 per chicken per day). In addition, chickens do not require much space, a little garden will do. In a small backyard there is probably only room for a standard chicken coop, i.e. a night house with an attached run. A larger garden offers the possibility to extend the run or to let the chickens roam freely in the garden for part of the day.

Then there is the investment in time but that too is not a big deal; the daily feeding and collecting of eggs only takes a few minutes at the most and periodically changing the coop is a fifteen minute job.

And for all those ‘investments’ you get a lot in return. In the first place it is an enrichment for your garden; just like some nice perennials, ornaments or a pond chickens are very decorative. And the nice thing is … they also move because chickens are always busy, which makes for a beautiful spectacle. The sounds that chickens make during their activity are a feast for the ears and the longer you have them the better you can recognize certain sounds; there is the specific sound when an egg is laid, when a chicken has found something tasty and of course the crowing of the rooster. The latter is not always a desirable sound and in some cases it is better to keep only hens. But don’t underestimate the volume of clucking hens because chickens communicate through sound.

And… last but not least… eggs! Depending on the breed, age and condition of the hens, we can expect eggs. Every sexually mature hen (that is from about 22 weeks of age) can lay eggs, with real layer breeds such as Leghorns this is more than 300 per year, with hobby breeds such as Wyandotte bantams it will not be more than about 100 eggs per hen per year. Of course, this also depends on whether or not artificial light is used to extend the laying period.

During the chicken keeping workshops I often meet participants who are somewhat disappointed in the egg production of their chickens. Often this has to do with overconditioning (read fatigue) of the birds. How this comes about and especially how it can be remedied, I will tell you in a future Cackle Talk.

I would like to conclude with the observation that maker chicken coops with chickens are also found in schools, nursing homes and care homes all the time. With the limited investment mentioned earlier, chickens can play an important therapeutic and educational role. Taking care of chickens is not difficult and very rewarding work. It gives children, but also for example caregivers, a piece of responsibility over living beings; a next step towards implementation in society.

Hans Krudde

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