Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chicken or the Egg?

Last week at a friend’s place, the sight of brood of chicken digging and searching for food over a pile of lawn clippings evoked fond memories of the kampong lifestyle I knew from my visits to my maternal grandmother at her village during my school holidays. Sadly, the old village was bulldozed to give way for the construction of blocks of HDB flats after it was zoned and destined to become Ponggol Housing Estate in Singapore. I am now seriously toying with the idea of having a couple of chooks in my backyard as they bring a bit of old-style living back to my suburban existence. I am pretty sure that I am not the only one going “chooku”, as it is reported recently in the news recently that the retail giant Bunnings who owns a chain of home improvement stores has noted a recent trend towards people trying to create a more eco-friendly environment for their kids at home. Before I build a chook pen and rush to buy a couple of day old chicken, I have to sell my idea to my wife who has always been not too keen of having backyard chooks. It is going to be a tough sell on the economic point of view. Not only will I get a negative answer but for sure to receive a question in return. Is it economically viable to produce your own eggs? Sadly the answer is no. I have done some calculations which to begin with, will make the cost per egg more than purchasing eggs from a store, especially when you take into the account of the initial costs involved with raising chickens in your own backyard. I also learned that chicks up until the age of around 2 months should also be fed a special chick feed, this will set you back between $10-$15.The purchase of a chicken coop will be your largest expense. Unless you are lucky enough to have an old shed that can be turned into a coop but if not you will either have to build your own or buy a pre-made coop. Pre-made coops can cost anywhere between $200-$2000. The other option is to keep an eye out for second hand coops in your local classifieds. You can save a lot of money by building your own coop. Costs in building your own coop with involve timber, chicken wire and nails and vary in costs depending on the size required. There isn’t much ammunition left for me to convince my better half to come to the party, but there is no harm telling her that chooks makes great pets even if you are not interested in egg production.

13 comments:

  1. Uncle Philip,

    It's good for keeping the kids entertained and also teach them where eggs come from etc. The kids will love them as pets.

    Another plus point is they have remove weed/pests from your garden but keep them away from your veggie patch, if not they'll destroy it quick!

    Jeff Lim

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    1. Uncle Phil,
      Chickens are VERY cool, but it's more of a hobby than anything else. If you want to save $$ on eggs, it's not really viable in my view, unless they are left to forage on their own. In summer, we can cover our costs sell eggs but in winter, it's a loss. I'll tell you though, that your own eggs are so much better than any store bought. Richer and creamier. Be prepared to be settled though - unless you have a nice neighbour who'll come oversee the chickens when you're away!
      In my view, ducks are more viable than chickens. They grow faster, lay quicker, eat less and lay more regularly (even in winter). They only need a dry place (some hay and a shelter - even a barrel works) also clean water that's deep enough to dip their heads into (a bucket works). They also don't scratch up your garden like chickens do. The down side is they are nowhere as fun to watch as chickens.

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    2. Thanks for your comment and sharing your experiences with us. I did keep a couple of muscovy ducks when I was living in Papua New Guinea. They were good in egg production but I found their meat were a bit gamey in aroma.
      Cheers,
      Phil

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    3. Oh..We have not slaughtered any of our livestock yet...I will buck up and try to do a goose this season. We did eat a 2-3 yr old chicken that was pecked to death...the meat was tough but very lean. I have never cooked chicken stock that was so clear of fat!! Meat-wise, it was only suitable for stew...BTW, Uncle Phil, do you know how to make giam chye (salted veg)/ chai po/ century egg? I can get them commercially but to be honest, I'm now afraid of these foods imported from China!

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    4. For the salted vege recipe just click on kiam chye in the index on the right. I do not have the recipe for making century egg but will post the chai poh as soon as it is made.

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  2. aiyah, got to wash the chicken shit, clean the chicken ten, the smell.... yak. Besides, it will attract snakes, and, but the home bred chicken eggs (it is so nice, if you just break the egg into a just cooked rice, mix with some soya sauce..)

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    1. Nothing can be conpared with a freshly laid egg from your own backyard!

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    2. OHH!! I missed the kiam chye recipe. Looks quite easy. Thanks so much for sharing! :)
      Indeed, nothing compares to fresh eggs! And it's only smelly in spring when everything is wet and soggy (at least here in Colorado)!

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  3. Hey Uncle Phil,
    Sorry to bother you again..do you know how to make the blood for kuey chap from fresh blood? I'm getting ready to slaughter a goose and am hoping to save the blood. Not sure if it's nice or not..I know duck blood is nicer than chicken blood..not sure about goose

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    1. I haven't prepared blood jelly for a long time. I remember my mother used to collect the blood whenever she slaughtered chicken or ducks for cooking.The freshly drawn blood is collected in a bowl, and prevented from premature coagulation, by mixing it with a teaspoon of table salt with some water. It is left to be coagulated before it is cooked.
      Hope you post us the result. Cheers,
      Phil

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    2. Excellent. I will try it. If it's a success, great, if not, it was worth a shot.
      Thanks for much!! :)

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  4. Hi Uncle Phil

    I think it is a good idea to keep 2 chickens (one will be too lonely) in your backyard. Although the economic outlay may outweigh the benefits especially when the chickens are only productive during summer and not winter, but I think rearing chickens has an additional advantage of clearing leftover foods. You can do your part for the environment and you can save costs for garbage bags by feeding the chickens leftovers.

    Over here in Europe, our waste are taxed by the number of garbage bags we use. Garbage bags are quite expensive. We would have incurred higher costs for our garbage if not for our 2 little chickens.

    I also observe that the eggs laid by our own chickens are much bigger than the ones in the supermart. The only downside is that we have to get our neighbour to feed the chickens and collect the eggs when we go on holiday.

    Just my humble opinion :)

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    1. Thanks for sharing.
      Cheers,
      Uncle Phil

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