First things first & since i am growing in reputation as a cook i always think how to dish out tasty/nutritious meals not just for family & friends but also for my dogs & now for my hens……
What to feed the hens ? (It’s simple!)
1. Grains : they love millets especially a variety called “varai”
2. Greens : grass or weeds, fresh veggie waste from kitchen!
3. Protein: they get enough bugs & worms, but they need protein supplementation: soybeans, corn, milk, meat — but sea fish (as usual) is the very best & i settle for a small treat of small variety of dried shrimps !
And provide lots & lots of WATER, WATER, WATER.
Chickens won’t always search far for food or water. And they need lots of water, especially when laying. They can die of salt toxicity in a few hours if water is not given at all times. Plus we add a pinch of turmeric into the water.
So everyday in the morning we make a “bhel” for them with all the above ingredients & we add a finely chopped onion & a bit of garlic ….. sometimes adding some green papaya gratings or even a bit of pomegranate etc
As of now the only problem we have in our hands is to get regular vaccinations done for their common ailments….. lets see, we shall cross that bridge when it comes !
Three weeks after the eggs were laid…. out walked six chicks
and so we go
left, right, left
left…..scratch, scratch, scratch
left, right left
peck, peck, peck
and by afternoon all our carefully placed mulch under our trees is all upturned. Many years back i had seen a house which was ransacked by burglars & the area in front of our shack was resembling almost that, completely turned over! So we quickly made a “chicken tractor’. Partner looked up the net for chicken tractor designs & we zeroed in a design which we thought was possible for us to make ourselves.
So we got one roll of Chicken mesh (Rs 450/-) & used the bamboo from the land & we got our version of chicken tractor going in a day. For the first day the chicks made a fuss, but slowly got used to it from the second day onwards. The first day even the dogs were most amused & were sitting there & bird watching. Now we keep moving it to different places & in exchange we get the nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous rich sweepings !
It was holi (festival) time & schools were closed & Amol the 11-year-old son of Prakash was also with us. He is really bright & likes to engage himself with all the work in the farm. One day he must’ve been wandering around & he spotted a jungle hen & he carefully laid a trap & caught it.
Have a look at her…. first thoughts which came to my mind was that woh, isn’t she dressed to kill with all the braids & ear rings et al.…..& one friend even named her Bo derek !
She was also in the chicken tractor for a few days, infact she was doing fine, but our resident chicks were not too happy to have this hep looking one & kept pecking her whenever a opurtunity presented itself. So after a week, i quietly let her go ‘though my co-workers would’ve liked to have made a nice meal…..Somehow i didn’t like the idea of a free meal…hunting & catching is fine with me, then one has earned the meal.