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The Value of a Chicken

Princess is a 5 year old bantam pet

What is the value of a chicken? To pet owners, no doubt, they will tell you they are priceless! Backyard chicken owners have discovered a very precious thing in their chickens. Not only something that loves treats but loves hugs. Not a single chicken on our farm has not been handled and hugged and then hungers for more. Since this is our full-time job, we’re able to give our chickens affections, and we have over 200 chickens that have a home with us here at Egg Well Farm. Some of those guys love the hugs, but most of them hate the hands coming towards them.

Socks is a Deathlayer cockerel that somehow got a cut on the back of his head

Deathlayer hen

and he continued to scratch it until he made a huge gash. We had to bring him in the house and keep baby socks on his feet, which is how he got his name. Every time I would reach in his brooder to pick him up, he would run around and flap his wings and scream, but after I caught him, he would snuggle up on me and look at me eye to eye with the sweetest sparkles in his eyes. Every time I felt he was saying I love you. It’s something you need to experience for yourself to understand.

Not many chickens will look you in the face, they’re usually looking for an escape, so when it does happen it’s very easy to bond with those special babies. I have several on this farm that will look me in the eyes when I pick them up. I have a few that will follow me everywhere and cry for me to pick them up. Sometimes they just want to sit in my lap and sometimes they just want a quick hug and then down again.

I don’t know how the world got to a place of thinking chickens are different than other creatures. It’s pretty much recognized that cats, dogs, and many of the animal kingdom creatures have and express feelings, emotions, empathy, and affection, but when it comes to chickens, they seem to think they have none of those things, which couldn’t be any more wrong.

I have had chickens most my life and many different breeds and one thing I know for certain out of my experiences is that they are extremely affectionate. They bond with their flock and they’ll bond with their owners if given the option. They have a system of communication and are very intelligent. Of course, as with all living things, you’re going to find some that are intellectually challenged. They cry when they’re upset and make sweet sounds when they’re happy. They get scared when predators come around and will scream for help when they feel threatened. They grieve and get depressed. I have seen chickens taken from their flocks due to an injury or was going to a new home go into a very sad state.

We have this one Sebright hen named Tinkerbell that goes from the farm for a

Silver Sebright

couple of weeks and then travels back home with my daughter to stay, and just as soon as she sets it down in her house it goes through the kitchen down the hall and into her bedroom and then to her spot on the side of her bathroom.

Chickens have great memories and can recognize not only animals but people. A few years ago, we had this humorous Rhode Island Red hen that would run to the one person that she knew she’d be safe with and fly upon his shoulders whenever a rooster got loose and was chasing her. She always went to the same person. They build relationships with people as well as with each other. One of my favorite hens is Sunshine. No matter how far away from me she is if I call her name, she will come to me for a hug. I will usually scoop her up and give her a good 5-minute hug showered with kisses. Other people have tried to call her, but she only comes to me. Contrary to popular belief chickens do know who loves them and who they can trust.

Once when we took our breeder rooster named Brutus to the veterinarian to be

treated for an ear infection and anemia, we kept him in the barn for daily treatment for almost 2 months. On the day we were finally able to return him

Brutus and hens

back to his flock, his hens put on a display of love and affection that almost brought me to tears. He did not go in his lot trying to breed but simply walked around in circles with 10 hens following on both his sides and making such sounds of sweet excitement. This went on for hours! I was able to video the last part of it, which is on our Egg Well Farm YouTube, but I missed the beginning when they showed the most pleasure in seeing him again. I had no idea what I would witness. I was totally unprepared for the display the hens showed of excitement and love to see their rooster, Brutus, was back home.

For me, I have to say the value of a chicken can be priceless because they give something no other creature has given in my life. To share my love for chickens with others is the main goal of having our farm. Also, we want to do our part to contribute to bringing certain chicken breeds off the critical or extinct list of The Livestock Conservancy.

Pavlovskaya rare Russian breed

We’ve discovered some of the most beautiful and unusual chickens are going extinct. One of the reasons for this sad circumstance is the introduction of hybrid chicken breeds. Hybrid chickens produce eggs at a younger age and produce more per week than the Heritage chicken breeds.

Hybrid chicken breeds are formed by breeding 2 pure breeds that are really good egg layers to produce a new hybrid of chicken. The development of hybrid chickens started in the 1950s when there was a huge growth in the demand for eggs and meat. There are countless hybrid chicken breeds one example is the Isa Brown which will give you an egg nearly every day, but they usually die within 2 years. Therein lies the difference between heritage and a hybrid chicken breed.

Heritage chickens will lay eggs for most of their life and they have the potential to live up to 15 years with good care. With the heritage breed they’re sometimes older before laying their first egg. Depending on the breed, for the most part, will lay an egg every other day until they’re around 3 to 5 years old and then begin to slow down to lay less and fewer eggs. Currently I have 2 hens close to 6 years old that are still producing eggs every other day. The advantage of the heritage chickens is a lifelong pet that will give you an egg for most of her life.

The crest of a Spitzhauben needs to point forward

To breeders that are trying to repopulate specific breeds of chickens in appreciation of the heritage pure breeds, these chickens may seem priceless. I and others like myself will spend many hours of research, many hours of management, and plenty of financing to find the right breeder hens and roosters that will line up to the Standards of Perfection in order to bring back the pure breed of chicken. Some of these breeds tend to be ornamental, some for show, some for backyard pets and eggs, and some for producing income or a combination of all the above, but none of these critically endangered breeds should be for consumption.

There are 2 kinds of meat producers; backyard owners and industries. I know to the homesteader the value of their chickens is no more than a bottom-line dollar. Raising poultry for consumption to feed a family has become a more popular way to provide a healthier source of meat for a family. To the person who feeds their family by raising their own chickens, the value of a chicken has a lot to do with family survival and good health. In most of these situations the chickens are given a good life with a good diet in order to provide a healthier lifestyle.

The poultry industries only value a chicken by the dollars they bring. Some of these places raise chickens in the most horrific of circumstances. Awareness has been raised of the abuse of chickens but not enough. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with eating poultry, but there’s everything wrong with some of the horrific and abusive environments they are raised in.

I dare say, these industries don’t care much for the life of their chickens only what their meat brings at the market. Egg producers can only make a buck if

they have plenty of hens which means they don’t have a lot of human interaction. Hopefully, they’re out foraging on nice green pastures and not sitting in a tiny battery cage all their laying life and then put to death. All poultry industries give their chickens very short lives, in that the ones for eggs are usually put to death after a couple of years, and the ones for meat are killed at a very young age. Which again, I repeat, there’s nothing wrong with eating poultry. But I would hope consumers would prefer to eat the meat from livestock that has been raised happy as well as healthy. All it takes is a simple google search on the internet to find the atrocities of what poultry endures in these industries.

Here at Egg Well Farm we take it very seriously to keep our flocks healthy and reproduce chickens that are as close to the Standards of Perfection as we can get. We have added 4 chicken breeds the past couple of years that are either on the threatened or critically endangered list; Spanish White Face (threatened), Spitzhauben (critical), Pavlovskaya,(endangered), and Deathlayers (endangered). Pavlovskaya, a Russian breed, was practically unheard of in the United States until Greenfire Farm began to

Deathlayer, German rare breed

import this breed in the past five years. They were all but extinct in the 1990s.Deathlayer (Westfalische Totleger) originated in Germany where this once popular bird's population has declined over the centuries. According to Greenfire Farm, “A recent census in Germany put the total registered Deathlayer population at about 1,500 birds”. We have purchased eggs from different breeders in an effort to have strong breeder chickens, but we’ve had a bit of a challenge with our Deathlayers.

Just recently we lost 2 of our healthiest most vibrant Deathlayers to a snake. Which over this past summer snakes have killed a French Black Copper Maran pullet, a Gold Laced Cochin pullet, a broody hen, Silver Laced Cochin with 13 eggs due to hatch that day, and two of our Deathlayers. Each of these breeds are extremely loved by our family here at this farm.

I have to say the Deathlayers have become the most special to us. I have found them to be the most docile and intelligent chickens I have come across. They have a great capacity for affection and I have found that even though they tend to be cautious they are the most loving of pets. Just recently a snake killed two of our Deathlayers and I posted what to look for on social media to inform others about snakes as a predator. Trust me, my desire to kill murderous snakes is well known. Don’t defend snakes or any predator to me. Some of the most insensitive people who are very indifferent to our pain defended the snakes.

I grew up with snakes, back in the mountains of Virginia and there was hardly a day in the summer that I did not see a snake of some kind. I hated snakes as a child growing up and no matter what people say, they will never make me like snakes.

The only thing snakes do at our farm is make themselves a nuisance by murdering our rare beloved chickens. I repeat I hate snakes and I will kill each and every one I see because they eat my fertile eggs, they eat my chicks, and they kill my pullets and hens. According to 'South Carolina Living' "Rat snakes are called chicken snakes in some areas because they will indeed eat as many chicken eggs and chicks as they can get their mouths on. If you pick up a wild rat snake, it will almost assuredly bite you and likely leave small puncture wounds that will hurt, but their bite is not venomous." We've been very successful protecting our flocks from every predator except snakes.

The way you know if it was a snake that killed your chickens, you will see slime over their heads, or their bones will be broken where the snake wrapped around it and crushed their body. What a horrible way for something you love to die.

The value of a chicken at Egg Well Farm far exceeds the value of snakes, which

I’m told serves a purpose. The value of a chicken here at our farm far exceeds any predator, of which all predators serve a purpose. But because a creature serves a purpose does not give any predator the right to kill what belongs to me no matter what kind of predator it is or what kind of purpose it may serve. Our breeder chickens are priceless to us at our farm. We feel that because they have individual personalities, they’re irreplaceable.

I Samuel 17:34-35

The value of a chicken at Egg Well Farm? Priceless!

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