Acquired: Bred animal myself
Posted Jun 03, 2013
My family initially bought one hen whose name was Henny Penny--original, I know--while we built the facilities to house many more chickens. A drawing of Henny Penny by my preteen sister eventually became the symbol for our farm.
When raised individually, these chickens have a lot of personality for simply being a chicken. When my mother would be turning over a compost pile, who was there to be helpful in picking out earthworms but Henny Penny! Eventually, she'd get so full of worms that her crop would be the size of a baseball and she'd waddle over to the grass and essentially fall into a food coma.
Eventually, we raised about 200 chickens for a small egg-laying operation. They were fairly easy to raise as fertilized eggs; they did require vigilance in checking on them and ensuring that the conditions were right, but if the incubator is set up properly, there really was not much to be done.
Following maturity, these chickens would lay multiple eggs in a day. The average for an Australorp is supposed to be 300 eggs per year--I don't remember how many we had, but it was definitely enough for our purposes! The eggs' quality was very high, but that is also a matter of diet. We fed them high-quality feed and allowed them to range somewhat freely. Furthermore, they got whatever excess vegetables we had produced.
We never lost a chicken to illness when once they were full-grown. We may have lost one or two chicks; however, we raised two separate groups of 200 chickens over the years.
When they were older, and past egg-laying years, we would slaughter them for meat. Although somewhat older chickens, the meat was still very good.
One thing I will mention as regarding these chickens for younger children--the hens are great for almost all ages. However, the roosters can be territorial, and aggressive toward smaller children.