Sounds idyllic, eh? The chickens and garden are idyllic, but we fit them in between all the other things that fill our busy lives.
|Me holding my biggest and most beautiful hen, |
a black Orpington.
I started this blog and its sister Facebook page to help create a community of chicken owners and chicken lovers in New Zealand. I want to encourage anyone who feels drawn to keeping chickens to do so, and to make it as enjoyable as possible for all concerned. Connecting with animals and the food they produce is a fabulous thing to do for the environment, your wellbeing and your children (if you have them).
I have a PhD in animal behaviour, and did my doctoral research on chickens. My research was done from the point of view of evolution and animal welfare.The idea with this is that an animal's welfare is generally best if they live in the kind of environment they evolved in. No matter how long they've been domesticated for, this seems to hold true. Their deepest 'needs' aren't bred out of them.
I say generally because not every aspect of that environment can or should be replicated when we keep animals. Chickens aren't any worse off for being protected from predators, for example. The thing is, humans aren't very good at guessing which aspects of the environment are important! For example, we tend to think that lots of space is important. But for chickens, litter to peck and scratch in, a private nesting place and a perch are supremely important for their good welfare (there is, however, a minimal amount of space needed, which is much bigger than battery farmed hens get - it's not an excuse to cram birds together). That's where the science comes in: carrying out well-designed experiments that 'ask' animals which aspects of the environment are important to them.
Home chicken keepers don't need to worry about the science. I'll post on subjects that discuss this kind of thing in a way that makes sense to chicken keepers in a New Zealand situation. Mostly, the science is line with what you've probably already noticed about chickens.
Enjoy. Us humans have lived with chickens for a very long time - 4,000 years or so - they are easy and fun!