Raising Egg Layer Chickens: A Farm Initiative

Late last year, I learned about a local farm called Thatch Meadow that was known as one of Long Island’s first irrigated fruit farms. For ages, it’s had a strong community presence but unfortunately it is now in disarray. It was decided through the help of multiple organizations to restore this farm to the pristine land it once was.

A few months later, we found ourselves preparing for the arrival of 27 egg layer chickens from a hatchery in Ohio. Coming in as days old, we needed to have a brooder, an indoor pen to keep our chicks warm, safe, and secure with plenty of food and water. In a quick change of plans, I rearranged projects and our student volunteers came to the maintenance barn to build the brooder. During the following week, our maintenance staff set up the brooder in our office with pine shavings, a heat lamp, a brooding plate,

feeders/waterers. They even have a balance beam for enrichment and exercise! By the end of February our chicks were in! Buff Orpington, Austra White, Blue Ameraucana, Olive Egger, and Speckled Sussex are the five breeds we have. They will lay a variety of different colored eggs. Over the summer, Thatch Meadow Farm is hoping to utilize the eggs, fresh cut flowers, honey and more to sell at local farmers markets.

Our chickens are now about 5 weeks old, and will transition outdoors to their coop next month. I myself have never raised chickens and it has been a learning curve. I’ve always had an affection and passion for animals so it’s been a fun venture to take on! It’s amazing to watch the babies grow and develop their own personalities, play, dig in their sandbox, hang out on their perch, run around, learning how to flap their wings and generate lift (which we have to be mindful to keep the brooder top closed!), falling asleep sitting up, and simply just being chickens. Petunia, Dotty, Clementine, Pursey, and Louie are just some of the names we’ve picked out so far. I’m looking forward to getting out on the farm in the summer months and watching the chickens in the new coop and their outdoor run!

If you want to learn more about chickens, read fun facts, learn about their behaviors, how to raise them, treat recipes (and a wealth of other information), I suggest checking out “The Chicken Chick”.