In 2018, an estimated 10 million American households had chickens. During the pandemic, that number likely grew as more Americans decided to join the local food movement. The benefits of keeping backyard chickens are obvious. From fresh eggs to a newfound pet, chickens are highly entertaining and engaging creatures. I would know. I currently have eight.
Like vegetable gardening and fruit tree growing, chicken keeping is undergoing an explosion of popularity in Maine. It seems like more and more people are getting chickens and building coops. Numerous Midcoast farms also raise chickens. Local, humanely raised chicken is also a refreshing alternative to factory farming. You can feel good knowing that your eggs or meat is coming from birds that are not confined to lives of misery.
When it comes to finding and securing food, chickens are professional foragers. From sunup to sundown, they scratch and peck their way to their next meal. From worms to bugs to all manner of supplemental treats, chickens are on the go. They are frenetic in every sense of the word. When it comes to egg laying, however, chickens are very formal and punctual.
Since chickens attract numerous predators, they need to be safely confined at night and closely watched during the day. Free-ranging flocks can easily lose members to attrition. There’s an art to keeping your chickens alive while simultaneously allowing them some freedom of movement. Happy chickens lay healthy, nutritious eggs.
If you have multiple chickens and enjoy an overabundance of eggs, there are several things you can do. To begin with, you can sell them for up to $5 a dozen. You can also give them freely to family, friends, and neighbors. If you’re doing all of those things and still have excess eggs, consider donating them to your local mini-pantry. Eggs should be clean and placed in a traditional carton. The day the eggs were donated should also be labeled on the carton.
Skidompha Library’s Little Free Pantry takes eggs as do the Lincoln County Gleaners. Please call 563-1330 for more information. Please also consider donating to your local town or regional pantry as well. Every little bit helps.