Beyond Eggs

​​​BEYOND EGGS: ​​Are You Harvesting Everything Your Chickens Have to Offer? ​

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​​​​​Healthy ecosystems should be our model when we consider how to grow food.

Anybody can stick a flock of chickens in the backyard. 

The result will be fresher eggs than you can get anywhere else, plenty of entertainment, and, ​in most cases, a progressive and terminal de-greening of the backyard

​​These may be healthier chickens than those kept in large commercial systems, but they are not living in a healthy ecosystem.

​In contrast to the typical bare-ground backyard chicken coop, healthy ecosystems teem with diversity. In them, each life-form is inter-connected with all the others in a rich and complex web that would be weakened and compromised if just one strand were removed.

​To move backyard chicken-keeping away from ​barren, bare ground and towards the model of a healthy ecosystem, ​we need to consider how to manage the flock so that all of its functions​the chickens' behaviors and their manure​are put to use in service of the surrounding ecosystem.

​​​​​​A healthy ecosystem is enriched by​​​ the presence of each element within it.

​​​This means designing and locating your chicken housing carefully, and ​managing ​the flock deliberately, with your whole garden or farm ecosystem in mind.

Then, along with your fresh eggs, you’d have:  

  • happier chickens,
  • a healthier ecosystem that’s closer to being able to sustain the chickens without outside inputs,
  • a greener, prettier back yard, ​
  • a lower feed bill,
  • and the satisfaction of knowing that you and your chickens are building soil, sequestering carbon, and taking the best care possible of your ​place on Earth.

This Series currently covers the following topics:

  • ​Managing ​chickens holistically so that they ​enhance ​your garden or farm rather than de-​greening ​and de-mulching it
  • Pros and cons of free range, mobile pens, and deep litter systems (Part 1)
  • How a deep litter system approximates the forest floor environment that chickens originally evolved in, resulting in better health for the chickens and their environment​ (Parts 2 and 3)
  • ​A list of ideas for keeping chickens as busy and well fed in a large deep litter run, as they would be if they were out free-ranging (Part 3)

​​This ​is a work in progress; as time goes by I'll write more in depth on ​the ideas for growing your own live, fresh chicken foods that are briefly ​listed in Part 3. These are some of the topics I expect to ​cover as time goes by:

  • ​Using azolla​ as a ​​green feed source for chickens that they can help themselves to right in their coop or run
  • ​Using worm farms and/or black soldier fly larvae as a feed source for chickens, also self-serve in their coop or run
  • ​Providing and maintaining ​live green foods inside the chicken run
  • ​Green cut-and-carry fodders for the chickens, right outside ​the chicken run
  • ​Growing our own mulch/litter material for topping up the deep litter in the chicken run

These will all be ​published as posts as they're written​, and added to the downloadable PDF that you can find below.

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Download this Series as a free PDF

​The PDF will be updated with the new posts as they're written.

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​Here are the posts that have so far been published in the ​BEYOND EGGS Series

Beyond Eggs – Pros and Cons of Free Range and Mobile Pens

Well-managed chickens can provide eggs and meat as well as composting assistance, pest reduction, soil amendment services and entertainment. But they can also be incredibly destructive, as you know if you’ve had garden beds dug up or fruit trees de-mulched.

How do we harness all that chickens offer, in ways that keep everybody happy, healthy and productive?


Beyond Eggs – 8 Advantages of Deep Litter Housing for Chickens

Deep litter bedding for chickens approximates the forest floor environment they evolved in, builds their health, provides them with entertainment, and captures fertility for soil building. Here is why we decided to try confinement on deep litter with no outside foraging.


Beyond Eggs: How to Keep Chickens Happy in Confinement

The best way to have healthy, happy chickens is to integrate them tightly into a thriving, bustling ecosystem that benefits from their presence, rather than allowing them to spread out in a sparse ecosystem that they steadily ​degrade because it is unable to support them.


Deep Litter Composting With Chickens

An earth-floor, deep-litter system​ has big benefits for the health and well-being of ​chickens, and it’s also the easiest way I know to build an ongoing compost creation system in which most of the work is done for you. ​This article shares ​what we’ve learned about ​deep-litter composting ​since we built ​our new earth floor chicken shed​ in 2019.

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