Our Rhode Island Reds In the spring of 2008, our daughter Colleen decided it was time for our family to raise chickens. This, in her mom's opinion, was a consequence of reading Mary Jane's Farm - a wonderful magazine that brings out the farmgirl in all of us. In early May, Colleen announced that she knew that the best hens for us would be the hardy Rhode Island Reds, known not only for their extremely friendly demeanor but for doing well in harsh winter climates. In late May, Christine, Caitlin and Colleen drove to a farm near Brainerd to select our baby chicks. We repurposed the fenced dog kennel alongside our garage as a chicken enclosure.
After a summer of growing, our chickens began laying eggs in October. True to Colleen's research, not a day has gone by that we have not had eggs to gather, even in the bitter cold of winter. Of course, they did have shelter and a heat lamp for a little comfort. The hens have plenty of room to exercise, absolutely no cages just nesting boxes, and a floor covered with straw.
Eggs are gathered, hand-washed and boxed daily. In the summer, the hens are given free reign of our yard in which to roam, truly free range eggs! We are enjoying the brown eggs mainly for ourselves but are happy to supply our neighboring customers with the extra eggs our natural, free-range Rhode Island Reds produce.
Oh, and they eat lots of grass in the summer and year round are given layer feed, a feed blend for egg layers, having extra calcium and protein added. They love a daily treat of scratch grains, a mixture of wheat, rye, oats, and cracked corn. Our chickens do receive treats! Fresh corn, bread, spaghetti noodles (reminding them of worms?), bananas and flax seem to be the favorites. Flax seed aids their digestion and gives them a nice, shiny coat. Chickens producing eggs that receive flax seeds are known to produce eggs rich in omega-3 oil.
Rhode Island Reds lay beautiful brown, medium to large sized eggs. All are delicious and flavorful from being so fresh!