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Chickens & Eggs

My passion for chickens began many years ago...

when my dear friend Sarah sold me my very first chicken house. It was definitely the beginning of a chicken thing…

We have a small flock of organic laying chickens in the paddock, there are about 45 made up of a few Cuckoo Marans (speckledy fat hens who lay dark brown speckledy eggs), some Black Rocks (black feathers with green shine, ginger neck & heads – a Rhode Island cross, lays pale shelled eggs) and lots of Light Sussex (white fat hens with grey flecking around neck & wing area, lay creamy/light brown eggs). We also have some Sasso table birds....but they are just pets.

They live in the chicken house next to the garden at the moment, although we move them from field to field, and we strip graze them in the paddock using the tried & tested Balfour method.

Good EggAll our chickens are happy FREE-RANGERS!

…therefore it stands to reason they lay Good Eggs!

One of the great things to happen in recent years is the demise of the battery farm. Our happy hens are often found wandering into the garden, searching for worms and insects but usually they can be found in the field chasing after bugs and  eating grass and corn.
How scientific opinion has changed over the last few years. An amino acid found in eggs is vital to the development of the human brain, according to scientists investigating a rare genetic disease. Researchers based at the University of Montreal in Canada and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital say their work indicates that the amino acid, asparagine, which was previously thought to be ‘non-essential’, is, in fact, crucial to normal brain development. Their findings were released after studying the DNA of children affected by the genetic disease.
The Canadian research is the latest in a series of studies to have identified the potential benefits of vitamins and nutrients found in eggs. After years in which health experts suggested that the consumption of eggs should be limited because they were mistakenly linked to higher risk of heart disease, they are now being seen as a ‘superfood.’ Advice on limiting consumption has been withdrawn by the British Heart Foundation and other health organisations around the world.

Egg Fact:  Eggs contain 13 essential vitamins and minerals and egg yolks is one of the few natural foods that contain vitamins

Scientists in China recently published research showing that including eggs in the diet could reduce the risk of developing lung cancer, whilst evidence from a study in the United States indicated that eating eggs could be beneficial for people with metabolic syndrome – a condition that leads to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Other research has provided evidence that eggs can lower breast cancer risk, lower the risk of age related eye disease and lower muscle loss. Scientists also say that an egg is an important source of choline. Studies have shown that choline is needed for optimal foetal brain development.

A paper published as recently as December shows that scientific opinion has turned full circle – with health experts now recommending that increased consumption of eggs could have widespread benefits for several key population groups. The paper, ‘Eggs – establishing the nutritional benefits’, was published in the December issue of the British Nutrition Foundation’s Nutrition Bulletin. It praised eggs as a natural health food and diet aid.

I remember reading a Katie Thear book years ago in which she said that chickens can remember up to a maximum of 50 – 60 other chickens, (probably by recognising the shapes of their heads) and therefore this should be the maximum size of a single flock.

The organic standards are much more than this (up to 1000 under the Soil Association – even more under other certification bodies). I suppose this is to make it commercially viable but we would rather have happy hens that live a stress-free life & come and talk to me when I feed them.

It makes sense; the happier they are the more eggs they lay! We believe its important that chickens can express their ‘chicken-ness’ meaning they have free access to the great outdoors & can scratch & peck in the soil, which is their natural behaviour. They also have plenty of space on the perch and plenty of nesting boxes to lay their eggs in.



sandra heaseman