Monday, April 22, 2024
Local Gardener

Chicken talk with Lisa Steele

Lisa Steele of the website Fresh Eggs Daily visit with Dorothy and Shauna Dobbie to talk about gardening with chickens. Lisa is a 5th-generation chicken farmer now located in Maine and she has recently released a book of egg-forward recipes that anyone who can eat eggs will swoon over. They talk about raising chickens, whether to keep roosters, chickens in the garden, chicken sexing… and even a little about ducks and geese.

Lisa keeps 18 chickens, 10 ducks and two geese in a fairly large pen and garden shed in a rural area. Lisa did try to keep a gander (male goose) at one point, but they had to give him up because when mating season came, he was very aggressive. Today they do have one rooster, Sherman, but he’s a bantam rooster, very small and not very threatening. Roosters also can damage the hens during mating season, tearing up their backs. Sherman isn’t big enough to do much damage and he is reasonably docile.

Keeping chickens out of the vegetable garden is necessary through the spring and summer. In spring, they will eat the seeds and in summer they will peck at vegetables. In fall, though, they do a good job of getting rid of grubs and insects, once all of your vegetables are harvested.

The chickens are amazing in their knowledge of what to eat when. For instance, they require grit to digest food, and the know how much to eat and when. They also know how much calcium they need to form shells. Lisa puts out crushed oyster shells for them to sample as needed and she notices that Sherman doesn’t bother and neither do the chicks who are too young to produce eggs. The hens do partake of it though. Animals know so much more than they get credit for!

Of course, they three also discuss gardening along the way and the cookbook, so there is plenty in this recording whether you want to raise chickens (as Shauna does) or not (like Dorothy)!