Were you to consider raising chickens in Crete, then there is a lot to learn. Keeping chickens in your garden is pretty popular here on the island, especially since there are no foxes here at all, but where do you get your chickens from?
In the UK, chickens come in breeds and you can buy roughly six month old hens sold as ‘point of lay’ meaning they are about to start producing eggs. Not so here. Here you have to go, after the month of March, to a shop that sells baby chickens. The picture below shows one such shop.
But how do you know that they are indeed hens, and not, for example, cockerels? The answer is that you don’t know. It is a fifty fifty chance since no-one I have ever met can tell the sexual differences in a tiny chick.
So you pay your Euro or so per chick and are given them in a cardboard box to take home. You have to look after the chicks very carefully. Keep them for the first few months in a secure cage and feed them baby chick food. When they grow older, up to six or so months, you can put them in a chicken run that you have to build out of wire to keep them in. You now feed them chicken food – it comes in a sack – and odd bits of stuff they may like. Make sure they have water. Water and food containers can be bought very cheaply here in Crete. Also never forget to provide some shade and a few little boxes for them to lay their eggs in.
But how do you protect your charges from such things as wandering hungry cats etc? Well here the cretans are very cunning. When you buy your baby chickens it is very strongly advisable to buy a couple of geese as well. The geese are very good protectors of chickens and no predator will come close while they are there.
Around the six month mark, you quickly discover which of your chickens are in fact cockerels. They crow very loudly at dawn and definitely produce no eggs. Now you may be happy with this and love them to bits. On the other hand you may fancy some Coq au Vin.
As your experience grows, and Christmas approaches, you may well dream of fattening up your own turkey, but be warned, they can grow pretty big.
Anyway, you can always try it out, and you will certainly love the eggs.