Thursday, 9 April 2009


With Easter fast approaching it seemed very appropriate to write a little about our chickens.

We brought our first chickens in 2003 and they were the last animals we introduced to the farm, long after the sheep and horses. We made them a small “house” where they sleep at night and return from the fields to lay their eggs during the day. They have no set “run” and are free to roam around the farm as they like. At night we shut them in their house to protect them from the foxes and let them out first thing in the morning. Having said that, most years we still loose a couple of chickens to the foxes during the day time.

The chickens are Joe’s responsibility; she cleans them out, looks after them generally and collects the eggs each day. The numbers we have fluctuate and at the moment we have 15 chickens and 2 bantams, (we brought 7 new chickens just two weeks ago.) We use to have quite a lot of the Asturian breed known as the “pita pintas” which are slightly smaller, but the fox seems to prefer them to the other types and so at this moment we only have one left of this kind. The others are the common brown type and the Catalan black breed which are quite popular in Spain.

Our last Asturian "pita pinta" chicken
When the chickens are outside during the day, they roam around looking for worms, grubs and all sorts of other bugs to eat. They love having “dirt” baths where they lie down and rub themselves in the dirt so as to clean themselves and look very content in the process. The eggs they lay are amazing with a very dark yellow yolk and taste fantastic, (there is no comparison to the eggs you buy in the shops.)

When comparing traditional to industrial farming techniques, for egg production, the differences with the two systems is one of the greatest in every respect. With open range eggs, like ours, the flavour and healthiness of the eggs are so much better, the animal welfare conditions infinitely better, and the environmental contamination less, (the manure from our chickens is used in our compost.)

Our chickens like roaming around with the sheep in the apple orchards and form a perfect example of a mixed diverse cropping system.

I would like to be able to produce more eggs in this way and have plenty to sell to guests and local people who might want them, but that’s a project which will have to wait.

In the meantime here are some of the delicious eggs waiting to be collected.

Happy Easter.

1 comment:

Ian and Luis said...

That is a great picture of Joann and the hen.


Hotel Posada del Valle is a small hotel in Asturias Northern Spain surrounded by its own organic farm and where we are passionate about organic farming, food, and sustainable livelihoods. In this Blog those of us who live and work at Hotel Posada del Valle open a door to share with all of you who are interested in what we are doing.