Raising Chickens in Crete

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.

Baby Chick Shop

Baby Chick 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.

They like to sit on cars too . . .

They like to sit on cars too . . .

Anyway, you can always try it out, and you will certainly love the eggs.

3 thoughts on “Raising Chickens in Crete

  1. Hello again, Ray!
    Geese as guardians, eh? Good idea. But then I would be afraid to walk where turkeys and geese watch.
    Good luck with your chickens. You should visit my moshav, haha. Until recently, every member household was required to have a big chicken coop for egg production. Only about a dozen are left. But when the wind is wrong, we are reminded.
    As a volunteer at Heifer Ranch in Arkansas, I worked in livestock and over the years raised (and slaughtered) many batches of chickens (for meat). Can you believe?! We would have to drive to town to the POST office to pick up cartons of newly hatched chicks, shipped by mail!

    Then the hundred chicks were in an enclosure on the floor, under a heat lamp for some time. When big enough, they went out on grass. In the “pastured poultry” system that Heifer International recommends, we had to build big cages of wood or plastic and wire, with no bottom. Everyday, after the chickens pecked on bugs and grass, in addition to pellet food, after they added their fertilizer to the earth, we would drag the cage to a new clean spot.

    If small predators got under and into the cage, we would have to electrify the pen at night.
    I hope your system is more fun and less work! Enjoy.

  2. Hi Ray, what a brilliant blog! The only one of it’s kind on raising chickens on Crete. I am moving over at the back end of this year and wish to do just that. Have you any idea where I can get organic chick/chicken feed from?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s