- Manisha Lath Gupta
Animals in Permaculture: Introducing Hens
Updated: Apr 12, 2021
For the longest time we wanted to introduce hens into the farm, but just didn't know how to get started. Having created a food forest, we knew the hens would be a great addition to the eco system since they i) supply nutrients to the orchards trees ii) clean up weeds, insect pests, diseased and infested fruit and iii) they tractor the land efficiently.
After looking high and low in the villages surrounding ours for desi or local hens, we managed to find a pair. We named them Raja and Rani.
After a day of training the dogs to stay away from the rooster and hen, Raja and Rani settled into comfortable domesticity at Aanandaa. They would walk around the farm all day, tractoring the soil, eating termite, pulling out weeds, and retire to their quarters at sun down.
Soon they laid a bunch of eggs and gave birth to a bunch of chicks as well.
Despite this good start, we couldn't keep the hen population active at the farm. A few months later, Rani died of a snake bite. Soon after Raja died of a broken heart or maybe just old age. When we had got the couple, we had no idea how old they were. To give the remaining hens company, and ensure they keep reproducing the farm help got a wild rooster from somewhere. This rooster taught the hens to eat up their own eggs. So we now got into a cycle of eggs being laid and eaten by the hens themselves pretty quickly. On their walks out in the morning, a couple of them got eaten by the dogs. Basically, our attempt to keep hens was not very successful. But we have not given up, and will keep trying.