For a long time we have had chickens and ducks. Now - I don't eat eggs straight up but I do use them all the time in cooking and the rest of the family will eat them.
They make great quick meals and I encouraged my girl to eat them when she was little so she didn't end up like me. Do you know how hard it is to not screw up your face as you are positively re-enforcing a child's eating of something you don't like? ... It's hard.
Over the years we have gone through many chickens. We have had random deaths and hens living to a ripe old age. We don't kill them for food and have had to give away spare roosters on occasion. I adore the Isa Brown variety for their lovely nature and great egg production. Our 'now' rooster comes from a long line of Bantoms - Leghorns and Isa browns grown by us.
Breeding our own chooks has been hard. The reason we have had this long line of roosters is becasue the only thing we have managed to 'grow' are roosters. We often buy 16 week old hens becasue I have been sick to the stomach each time we have tried to raise our own. I hate watching them slowly die, get taken randomly over night by (I'm assuming) bush rats or carried off by the crows. The duck (Indian Runners) breeding has been equally heart breaking as they are the worst mothers, trampling them - letting them get too water logged or carried off by the crows.
I had had enough of bringing them inside trying to save the little ones. I always felt inclined to let the mums have their babies but always it ended up with heart break. Breading is also made more difficult by thunder storms ruining batches of sitting eggs or hens not going clucky for three years.
So for Christmas I bought my husband an incubator. It has been increasingly hard to buy chickens around here and I really I hope that this stops our breeding problems. We just had our first batch of eggs hatch and we now have five babies, safe, under the light. Every morning I know they are safe in their box and had not been carried off in the dark of the night. It just so happened that we had a chicken go clucky at the same time, the first time a hen had gone clucky in three years. What are the odds? This morning two of her eggs have hatched despite two thunderstorms in her sitting period. I'm really unsure what to do. Should I join the two batches together and give the incubator babies a Mum or grow them safely under the warmth till they are old enough to join in with the big ladies in the hen house.
I'll keep you updated on here. fingers crossed for a lovely batch of home grown chickens.