WARNING: this post refers to the killing and eating of animals.
I’m hatching a plan for a regenerative chicken flock (chicken pun!). Twice a day when I put Ollie to sleep, I’m on my phone scouring chicken forums and permaculture texts* for info and advice.
We want eggs and meat and birds that will hatch and raise their own young. We want heat tolerance, winter laying, and friendly disposition. It’s a tall order, but from what I can tell, Buff Orphington fits the bill. Buffs have been part of our flock since the beginning and we’ve found them to be docile, most likely to go broody, good layers, and beautiful to boot. They aren’t very meaty compared to the jumbo cornish meat birds we are used to, but one bird will provide a nice meal for our family of three with a little left over.
The idea is we’ll get about 50 “straight run” (male & female) day-old chicks and start harvesting the roosters at 12 weeks. We’ll process one or two a week (putting some in the freezer) until they are about 20 weeks, at which point we may decide to process all but one to prevent fighting and optimize meat texture. Then we’ll have a bunch of hens and one rooster. Hopefully a couple hens will go broody and hatch us some chicks. Once the chicks are growing we can harvest a few of the first generation hens to make room for the new birds. I don’t know if we can hatch 50 chicks a year, but if we can get close, then I won’t need to buy chicken or eggs ever again.
*I just finished Peter Bain’s Permaculture Handbook, it was excellent. I just started Mark Shepherd’s restoration agriculture, it’s revolutionary.