That is the general response we hear from people when we talk casually about the chickens. (We hear the same similar response and incredulity when we talk about Puerto Rico, too!) The chickens are awesome! Here are a few fun facts about chickens that we learned, and hopefully they answer a lot of your questions about chickens. If you have other questions, I’ll try to answer them!
1) They generally lay one egg a day. This is not a 24 hour day, however. Our chicken lays one about every 30 hours, so we skip a day every so often. They lay based on the amount of sun – or day length. In the winter, some breeds stop altogether. This is a natural response so that the chicks would have the best chance of survival (spring, summer, and fall). In commercial enterprises, they use artificial lighting to keep them laying through the winter.
2) You don’t need a rooster to have eggs. You only need a rooster to fertilize the eggs. Unless you have a lot of room or want to have chicks in the spring, don’t get a rooster. The hens are not noisy at all, but roosters can start crowing at 3am, which may make you the least favorite neighbor ever.
3) They start laying at between 3-5 months old. The black one still hasn’t laid.
4) They spend the day on the ground looking for things to eat, but like to sleep up on a board. This is the “roosting” habit. They should have shelter from the elements and predators. A lot of chicken predators (foxes, skunks, weasels, etc) are noctural and strike when the chickens are most vulnerable.
5) They do poop a lot, and their poop is considered “hot” but is excellent fertilizer. We usually just hose out the greenhouse every so often and that takes care of the smell.
6) Regardless of what your egg carton might say, chickens are not naturally vegetarians. They LOVE grasshoppers, spiders, beetles, etc, and they are GREAT at catching them. One day, Kitty caught a baby bird and left it dead on the back porch for us as he likes to do recently (yuck). I went to go move it from the porch but got a little distracted. When I came back about a 1/2 hour later the chickens had finished him off, feathers and all…Is that cannibalism if it’s in the same family?
7) They are “flock” animals. I wouldn’t suggest getting just one. They have their own language and squawk when we come out to let each other know we are there. They are always together, sleeping, eating, pecking around in the yard.
8)- The egg comes out of the same part as the poop, but it is through a different tube (think: our throats are used for food and for air), so they are completely sanitary unless they land in poop on the ground (the shell would be dirty).
9) Overall, chickens can be used as: pets, meat, eggs, feather source, fertilizer, entertainment, bug abatement and much, much more
10) Oh, and yes, they are legal to have in Greeley city limits. Other towns like Fort Collins are also considering it.
BONUS! When Britton and I were in Puerto Rico last, they were talking about how chickens are great for catching unwanted critters, especially scorpions. Well, that’ll help you sleep at night.