By Alyssa St-Jean (LowFatLowCarb.com)
Last week we posted a video on our social media sites with Chef Verati and his backyard chickens! In case you missed it, take a look at the video click here. Winning the hearts of thousands, we wanted to dig a little deeper and host an exclusive interview with Chef Verati in order to get additional details on the story behind his “Backyard Chickens”.
Where did you come up with the idea to get chickens?
I got the idea to have get chickens from my neighbor. One day, his chickens were roaming the street so, I decided to bring them back to his yard so that they would not get hit my any cars passing by. As a reward, my neighbor gave me a few of his fresh eggs. I liked the idea and the taste so much that when I got home, I almost immediately started researching the idea of having my chicken coop with chickens.
What do you need to have your own backyard chickens?
You have just got to love animals! To start, you will need a chicken coop (doesn’t have to be fancy as long as it protects them from predators), chicken feed, a water feeder and that’s it! Oh, and well if the chicken coop has a wood flooring you will need wood shavings.
Is having your own chicken coop expensive compared to simply purchasing a carton of eggs at the grocery store?
It is not comparable in terms of taste however, if you would like to put a price on it: I paid 8$ CND for each chicken and it is approximately $13 CND for their food (lasts approximately one months). So, per year the minimum cost is around $160 CND. Before having chickens, I use to buy on average one carton of eggs per week averaging at $3.50 each in Canadian dollars so that came to about $170 per year. So, in the end, you actually same money!
Why do you have four? Is it better to have more than one?
I simply wanted four. Being single is lonely, a couple can go wrong, three is a crowd and well four is just right!
Do all of your chickens have different names and temperaments?
Absolutely! Their names are Ariel, Pocahontas, Snow White and Cinderella. Obviously the women in my life (wife and kids) picked their names… They each have their own personalities too. Some are shyer than others and some are friendlier than others. Depends who is in the coop as well. They absolutely love my wife!
How often do they lay eggs?
Everyday, each chicken lays one egg. Every once in a while we miraculously get 5 eggs. To this day, we do not know which chicken it was.
What type of food do you feed them? How often?
We feed them a vegetarian all-grain diet that is free of animal by-products, hormones and antibiotics. This balanced diet gives the eggs a rich taste and a very healthy yoke. I try to make sure they always have food so that they can eat whenever they are hungry. They also love table scraps like leftover veggies. My ladies love cabbage! It is their favorite treat!
What type of maintenance do they require? (Cleaning, play time, attention overall)
The coop needs to been cleaned quite frequently so that the chickens are not walking in their own excrements (kind of like a cat litter but with wood shavings). Every month or so, I change the entire shavings. Everyday either my wife or I go to see the chickens and pick up the eggs. We also take the time to talk and pet them. Although they like some attention, they are not cats so they don’t like to be held for too long. But, they are very happy to see me when I open the door. I love it when I walk in and they start to get all excited and balloon their feathers. It is so adorable!
Do your chicken remain in their coop all the time? Or, do you let them roam around the yard?
Well, during the winter, I admit that they stay in their coop however; I don’t think that they would want to be out in the snow either. Our winters are pretty cold out in Quebec. They are happy in their heated coop during that season. During the summer time though, they are free to go wherever they want really. It becomes a habit for them to go back into their coop at dusk. Once they are all settle in the coop, I lock up for the night to protect them against any predators and allow them to have a good night sleep.
What kind of tips or tricks would you give to anyone seeking to have a chicken coop of his or her own?
It is very easy honestly, but you do have to like it. It has kind of become a hobby to me. You also have to have the time to go see them and talk to them every day. They do need some kind of attention on a daily basis. Just like any other animal, they do need fresh water and food to survive. So, as long as you are dedicated to make the commitment to take care of them, go for it!
Thank you very much Chef Verati for taking the time to speak to us about your backyard chickens. I think that this is a great step towards sustainable living for anyone who wishes to lead a healthier lifestyle. Thank you for sharing!