Much of our protein comes from animal sources. The production of meat, particularly beef, has a high carbon footprint compared with vegetable protein provided by soya and beans. Where will our protein come from in the future and are there innovative ways of producing protein whilst putting less pressure on the environment?
As one of our main sources of protein, where do the chickens fit into the landscape?
Could we keep chickens on campus?
Yes! It is best to start with hens that are four to five months old since they are just starting to lay eggs and are easy to look after. Chickens should be kept outdoors in a coop or shed. The coop should have:
at least 1,100 square centimetres floor area for each bird
a perch for them to stand on while they sleep
an exercise space, or ‘run’
a nesting box filled with wood shavings for the hens to lay eggs
Although there might not be a clear economic benefit in keeping our own chickens since eggs are so cheap today, the freshness and quality of really fresh eggs makes it worthwhile.
In the industry, chickens are selected according to their characteristics. Broilers are chickens bred for their meat; they grow faster and therefore produce more muscle. Layers are chickens bred for their eggs; they can lay up to 300 eggs a year. The same thing happens with cows that are bred for their meat or for their milk.
Did you know…
That the 317,000 people that live in Coventry consume 570,600 eggs every week.
To produce these eggs locally, we would need at least 81,514 chickens.
Not all chickens lay eggs every day and many lay fewer eggs during the winter.
Chickens need food, water and grit. Grit is essential to help them break down and digest the food they eat.
‘When chickens get to live like chickens, they’ll taste like chickens too.’ Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: The Search for a Perfect Meal in a Fast-Food World.