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LIFE BY LOUIS: My chicken rearing project  

Tuesday March 26 2019

I was in the village last week launching my chicken rearing project. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH

I was in the village last week launching my chicken rearing project. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH 

LOUIS MUIRURI
By LOUIS MUIRURI
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I was in the village last week launching my chicken rearing project.

Because I want to create a rags to riches story that I can later publish and make it a masterpiece for motivational talks, I am starting the project from the basics.  

A few weeks back, I bought five young chicks from the neighbour because I want to grow a breed whose the ancestry I’m sure of. They have now blossomed and I can’t keep calm.

After laying ten tiny eggs each, the hens now insist on incubating them in order to order to manufacture other small hens. I can already foresee myself being featured in a television program that talks about successful farmers who have shaped up their shambas.

ENCOUNTER WITH A ROOSTER

Unlike the upmarket layers that are manufactured using electricity powered incubators, village hens reproduce through an intricate life cycle process that takes several months.

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First of all, the hen must have an encounter with a rooster before you can be assured that the eggs the hen lays are fertilised and can be used to propagate the future generation of chicken.

To increase your chances of getting a good breed, you let your hens loose so that they can meet the all potent, virile and polygamous village rooster.

A hen that is incubating on her eggs is one moody bird. It displays raging hormones, strange cravings and a really unpredictable temper.

Sometimes the craving leads the hen to eat all the eggs. Just as you are busy counting the chicken before they are hatched,  the hen walks out of the nest after 21days like a celebrated queen.

All you can see in the incubation nest are empty shells after the hen has thanked herself to all the eggs. You regret the day you allowed the hen to incubate on the eggs, and you wish you had made better use of the eggs like converting them to omelette and eating them with  ugali.

HIGH TEMPER

Her temper is also high during the incubation period, and sometimes you are innocently looking for a panga or cooking pan under the table when you ruffle the hen.

It will gladly employ its sharp beak to drill a hole on your straying hand. As a bonus treatment, it can charge at you while making intimidating noises and chasing you round the house.

It can become very aggressive and sometimes even repels the fierce eagle that attempts to steal her chicks during the brooding period.

Those who were born the other day are lucky they were not born in the days when hens could fight people.

You are better off dealing with a buffalo or hippo, because you can easily predict the outcomes of the encounter. Being chased by a hen is similar to encountering an unidentified flying object.

You are not sure whether to run or wait a bit and take a video. My late grandmother had a hen that used to fight anyone on sight especially the visitors, she was our version of a shepherd dog.

Visitors intending to access our compound had to pause and knock at the gate first in order to enquire if the hen was on the loose.

Sometimes the incubation endeavour is all in vain. After sacrificing your thirty healthy eggs to the hen to incubate on while expecting at least twenty healthy chicks at the end of the incubation period, only three chicks come out and they are promptly eaten by the mongoose.

You rue the whole idea, you would rather have arranged the eggs in a tray and sold them to your office colleagues in the parking lot.

TOTAL WASTE

The eggs that have refused to hatch into chicks are not a total waste. They are recognised by the village boys as biological weapons of mass destruction.

They are called lazy eggs. They turn an unpleasant blackish colour and emit a noxious gas that can be smelled across the neighbouring province.

During the finals of a heavily contested village premier league championship or when watching a free movie in the village social hall with enemies from the other ridge, launching just one lazy egg into the crowd is enough to lead the opponent to withdraw from the whole event without any exit deal.

In this era of genetically modified chicken and artificial eggs, you can start placing your orders with me if you want chicken and chicken products with a proven ancestry.

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