Interview with a Chicken Farmer

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Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting Mr. Maujean, fellow Leisure Nouveau writer, adventurer, and chicken farmer, and observing the great pleasure he gleaned from his new feathery hobby.  After enjoying some delicious eggy bread and speaking more with him on the subject, I learned that there was quite a bit more to keeping chickens than meets the eye.  He agreed to submit to a grueling, painful interview process, the results of which I am now happy to share.

LN: How long have you been interested in raising chickens?  What finally got you to start doing it?

CM: I wasn't really interested in chickens until we decided we were tired of paying for eggs, and that we'd get better eggs if we were raising them ourselves. The true impetus was that grandpa bought us the chicks and some starter gear.

LN: What were your biggest hurdles when you started?  What pieces of information do you think are invaluable for the beginner?

CM: A lack of proper facilities for the chickens was the biggest issue in the beginning.
And here's some advice:

  1. Have your chicken house, and yard set up and ready first.
  2. This is going to be a daily chore, you'll need someone to come do it if you can't: collecting eggs, checking on status of food and water, working on their bedding, adjusting perches, etc.
  3. Get some knee high muck boots. Your local farm store will have some good variety in this, the green ones in the $15 range are usually good for at least 2 years.
  4. Get used to touching chicken poop.  It will be unavoidable.
Some things I had to learn the hard way:

  1. Don't go with your standard cheap waterer, there are much better ones than the galvanized ones.
  2. Put the food and water at just below the chickens' head height. They love to scratch, and when they do, bedding flies everywhere, and gets in the water and food.
  3. Laying boxes should be set up to prevent chickens from perching on them.  Less poop on your eggs makes cleaning them a lot easier.

LN: What kinds of chickens do you have?  Do you have any favorites?

CM: We have Rhode Island Reds, Golden Sex Links, Black Sex Links, and Araucanas that lay blue and green eggs.

LN: Do you name your chickens?

CM: Only the rooster we're hoping to keep. He is named Rocketdog. We're watching for which rooster will end up as the true alpha, and we'll be stuck with him, as he'll be the one who does the best job.

LN: How many eggs do you tend to get from your chickens?  What do you do with them all?

CM: We get about 16 dozen a week currently, and we sell about ten dozen to the local store, and eat or gift the rest. Mainly in omelets, fried, scrambled, poached, quiches, chili rellenos and custards.

LN: How often do you slaughter and eat a chicken?

CM: Only once so far:  we culled and ate two. There will be a time soon, when we will be culling all but one of the current crop of roosters. That will be a fine day, and much chicken will be eaten. You are invited.

LN: Thank you, that sounds excellent.  How do you track the production and profit/loss from your chickens?

CM: Currently I keep a simple spreadsheet. I am however, developing a chicken and goat farming web application that will allow me (and others, for a mere $5 a month) to track egg production, expenses, profit and loss for chickens and goats. It will provide various graphs and views of the data input. There will be some social and informative aspects to the site as well.

LN: We will make sure to keep our readers updated on that tool, it sounds pretty handy.  So what is your favorite egg recipe that you've discovered since beginning your chicken farming?  Chicken recipe?

CM: When it comes to eggs, I love omelets. Especially when they have smoked brie, spinach
and chicken in them.

As for chicken, any recipe that starts with "Boil a whole chicken" is a great
one. My signature dish would have to be my curry chicken and creme of
carrot soup.

[Editor's note: Several days after finishing the interview, I received a frantic, excited email from Mr. Maujean announcing, "GOATS! We have Goats!"  He has not been seen since.]

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After seeing the brutal treatment I gave to Mr. Maujean in last week's article on chicken farming, our fellow Leisure Nouveau writers demanded of our board of directors that I be submitted to the same grueling torture.  Consequently, last... Read More

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