Anyone who has been to the Philippines knows that chickens are way of life over here. There’s hardly a yard that doesn’t have at least 1 cock tied up to a tree, but it’s so infrequent to see hens. Obviously they must exist otherwise there wouldn’t be any cocks. Honestly the cocks are kept as fighting cocks and the owners lavish much attention on them. I’m not here to speak out the pros or cons of cock fighting or Sabong Pinoy my interest in the matter lies in keeping chickens for a steady supply of eggs. Am I the only one who has noticed prices climbing at an alarming rate over here? A tray of 18 eggs at the Palengke will run you P158, up from around P100 a year ago. Also the eggs are “broiler” eggs of suspect quality. Chicken farms in the Philippines are no less prone to “factory farming” poultry, that is raising them in cramped, unsanitary conditions and pumping them full of hormones and antibiotics. Seems you can’t go anywhere in the world not and not eat food that isn’t poison.
So what to do about it? Well my father in law was keeping chickens at their home so he let my wife borrow a hen while I was in Alaska and she laid 4 eggs. They hatched into 2 boys and 2 girls and we feed them as naturally as possible and let them peck around the yard. Now these chickens are not the broilers we’re familiar with in the states, it’s what they call “native chicken” over here which is actually a breed of Old English Game Hen. They’re smaller, typically getting to no more than 2 kilos in weight and the hens lay a small to medium sized brown egg. They are excellent foragers and love scratching around the yard looking for bugs and weeds. They also love pecking at the kalamunggay tree and I cut a few branches down for them every few days.
So what are the benefits of keeping your own chickens? First and foremost free eggs, well not free because you’re feeding the chickens but at least you know what the birds are being fed. The eggs produced are of a superior quality to even the “Certified Organic” ones you find in the states. The yolks are darker orange-yellow attesting to a higher beta-carotene content and free range eggs are higher in vitamin A and B. Of course the taste is without compare as well. After tasting a free range native chicken egg the ones you buy in the store will be tasteless compared to the rich flavor of your own eggs.
I’m thouroughly enjoying taking care of the chickens and hope to get some more later this year. One note of caution though, if you live in a gated and guarded subdiv check the community association rules because there may be a prohibition on “noisy pets”. However this usually applies to roosters, as the hens are generally very quiet unless startled or laying an egg.